Houston Rails-to-Trails Routes
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a non-profit organization out of Washington D.C. that is working with cities and neighborhoods throughout the country to create a trail system from the old rail lines. These 10-foot wide multi-use trails are ideal for hiking, cycling, and running. Houston's Rails-to-Trails routes are relatively new and include the following routes:
- Columbia Tap Trail – This is a four mile trail over the old Columbia Tap railroad that connects Dixie Drive past Polk Street into Downtown, and runs between Dowling Street and Scott Street. Running along the former Union Pacific Railroad, the Columbia Tap Trail has created a greenspace in the Third Ward and downtown Houston. In addition to creating a new route the Tap Trail links up with the Polk bike lanes, McGowan and Alabama bike routes, Brays Bayou Trail, and the Dixie bike route. The trail connects Houstonians and visitors to major employment opportunities, sports venues, restaurants, and more. It passes by Texas Southern University, University of Houston, Hermann Park, MacGregor Park, Houston Zoo, the Museum District, Texas Medical Center, and Minute Maid Park.
- Harrisburg and Sunset Rail Trails – The Harrisburg and Sunset Trail is a 5.29 mile trail that runs from Drennan to Marsden and from Avenue H to Hidalgo Park. The trail, which connects to bikeways at McKee, Sampson, York, and 67th Street will also connect to Brays Bayou at a future site at S. 70th Street.
- West White Oak Bayou Trail – The West White Oak Bayou Trail is a Rails-to-Trails project that runs along the bayou from 11th Street to Pinemont. This lighted, five mile trail connects to the Central Business District (CBD) On-street Bikeway and the West Houston On-street Bikeway, which are both now open to the public.
- MKT/SP Rails-to-Trails – Running along the Missouri, Kansas, Texas Southern Pacific railroad, the MKT/SP Rails-to-Trails project runs from 26th Street to 7th Street and from Shepherd along 7th Street to Spring Street and White Oak Bayou. It will link the area near Washington and Montrose with neighborhoods closer to Heights Blvd. north of I-10. Along the route you can visit the Art Car Museum, Historic Heights, several art galleries, and numerous in-town eateries.
While hiking the Rails-to-Trails routes in Houston may not take you to wilderness locations, they are still great treks for hikers that may want to add a visit to a museum or quaint coffee house along the way.