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Start your run at Mason Park in Houston's East End

Mason Park is the perfect place to start your run, or walk, down Houston's 30-mile Brays Bayou Greenway trail.

View facing west towards downtown Houston at Brays Bayou in Houston, TX

With the arrival of April, it's a good time to make plans to get out and explore new parts of your city! Today, I want to introduce you to Mason Park. This will be the first of a series of posts related to Houston's Bayou Greenway Trails!

I have many more memories of Mason Park stored in my mind than in photos. Memories of visiting as a kid on summer evenings when the park is usually its fullest. You'll find families walking the path, kids on the playground, men playing soccer on the field, and their wives and daughters selling water, sodas, and candies just off to the side. There will be people sitting at the picnic tables enjoying a Sunday afternoon cookout for someone's birthday, and you'll hear the screams of kids in the pool on summer afternoons. My favorite part of the park has always been walking the path along Brays Bayou towards 75th Street to catch a glimpse of the downtown skyline. It is here where you are reminded where you are: just shy of 6 miles from the city's center and walking alongside one of its natural waterways, witnessing its wildlife.

Click to enlarge

When I was in high school the Houston Parks Board began developing the park on the other side of Brays Bayou into a nature preserve area. It would not only take on water when the inevitable flooding rains hit Houston, but also act as a sanctuary for native plants and animals. Here you can catch sight of egrets and blue herons in the ponded areas, and listen to the symphony of frogs and cicadas in the humid summer evenings. I remember volunteering for the Trash Bash as a sophomore, helping to pick up trash in the area alongside the railroad tracks that sit parallel to the park. This side of the park became my favorite side because there was so much more to see and it was far less crowded. Accessibility to this side was a bit limited because the only thing that connected both sides of the park was the narrow 75th Street pedestrian walkway over the bayou. However, in 2017, this all changed.

View of nature conservation area from pedestrian bridge over Brays Bayou

Trail along the nature preserve area of Mason Park in Houston, Texas

Thanks to a Transportation Enhancement grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, a pedestrian and bike bridge was constructed enabling safer access to the 30-mile Brays Bayou Greenway trail.

Mason Park in Houston, Texas

Now, this 16-foot wide bridge enables visitors to cross back and forth with ease. On my most recent visit I saw families with toddlers on tricycles crossing over from the smaller side of the park to the main side. Teenage girls hanging out on the bridge sharing chicharrones and mangonadas. Joggers crossed over with ease, and cyclists were no longer forced to ride up to 75th in order to access the rest of the trail. You can bike without feeling like you're going to fall over into the bayou below when someone else is biking towards you. I no longer live in the Pecan Park neighborhood, but after seeing this bridge I can't wait to get back to my favorite Houston Park!

I've witnessed many rapid changes in my East End neighborhood. The construction of this pedestrian and bike bridge, and the connecting Bayou Greenway trails are a great addition and enhancement to an area that was in great need of recreational improvements.

Mason Park in Houston, Texas

On April 6th, I'll be at Mason Park for the Bayou Greenway Day 5k. If you're interested in signing up, click here to be taken to the free sign-up page. Not only will there be a 5k, but there will be lots of family-friendly activities from 10 am-3 pm!

Have you been to Mason Park recently? Do you walk, ride, or jog along any of the Bayou Greenway Trails? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for other lesser-known Houston Parks to visit? Click here to check out Smither Park!

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#eastend #houstonparks

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