Spring Creek Greenway
There’s an exciting project underway along the northern boundary of Harris County and, by definition, the southern boundary of Montgomery County. The dividing line between the two is Spring Creek, one of only a few unchanneled creeks in the Houston area. Since the 1970s, a number of individuals have had the great foresight to set aside land along the creek, ensuring it will remain protected and undeveloped.
Today, residents of the region are reaping the benefits of all this undeveloped land. So far, 12 miles of pathway between Dennis Johnston Park to the west and Jesse Jones Park to the east have been paved. By the time the entire length of the greenway has been connected, the pathway will be a little over 33 miles long! By that time, it will run the length of the creek from just east of Tomball all the way to Humble. Upon completion, the Houston area will claim the record of having the longest greenway in the country.
The creek forms a natural floodplain. In an area prone to flooding, excessive rainfall will fill the creek and possibly overflow its banks, but as long as development close to the creek is minimal, the excess water has room to spread and sink into the ground. Spring Creek will carry the majority of the rushing water downriver to Lake Houston and on to Galveston Bay.
As we set out on our 4.5 mile round trip walk from Pundt Park, I’m impressed by the enormous investment that has been made in making this area available to the public. Having lived in the Houston area a long time, I often pass by neighborhoods and shopping areas where once, not so long ago, there were fields and forests. I find myself feeling very grateful for organizations like Bayou Land Conservancy, which work so hard to protect the natural landscape. The Conservancy is heavily involved in creating the Spring Creek Greenway and in protecting the land. Throughout the North Houston area, they manage a considerable number of preserves. Both Harris County and Montgomery County are involved in the creation of the Greenway, along with landowners and other organizations.
The paved pathway is ideal for those who enjoy bike riding. Despite being the width of a small country road, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the path. It’s a wonderfully safe place for bike riders to both get some speed going and to avoid constantly worrying about distracted drivers. The trail is also an ideal place to go for a nature walk. For parents with young kids, it’s great not to have to worry about the kids running out in front of a car. There is a potential for accidents on a mixed use path, so all users should remain acutely aware of pedestrians ahead or bikes coming from behind.
Having arrived at the park early, Tim and I are able to enjoy the occasional cool breeze. Much of the path is shaded by trees overhead, but there are plenty of open areas where the summer sun will do its best to send you back to your car. Alongside the paved path, we’re happy to find a dirt path winding its way through the trees. As someone who does a fair bit of dawdling—the inevitable consequence of bringing my camera along—this seems a very useful thing.
Every now and again, we discover smaller paths leading off through the trees. As long as they’re heading in the direction of Spring Creek, I’ll happily wrestle with some wayward shrubbery for a chance to see the creek itself. We discover several beautiful views of the surprisingly wide waterway by choosing to be a little adventurous.
There’s a bridge maybe a mile east of Pundt Park where a group of bike riders are leaning out over the water. We naturally make the assumption that there’s something to see. In the water and rocks down below, we see more snakes than we’ve ever seen in one place, both Broad Banded water snakes and Diamondback water snakes. It’s an incredible sight and we spend a long time just watching all the activity, only continuing because the sun’s rays have brought us near to sizzling. Back in the trees, we’re able to slowly cool down again.
A bit further along the path, we reach Bender Lake. Part walking, part sliding down the side of the path, I make my way to the lake. It’s an experience akin to walking through the magical wardrobe. Down by the lake, it’s quiet and dark, with just a few rays of light slanting through the trees. Cypress trees line the water and make you feel you’ve arrived in a different place. Had there been a shore, I would make my way around the lake, but there’s really only enough room to stand and admire the view.
I would have liked to continue on the path down to the other end of the lake, but the sun was intensifying its efforts. We thought it best to return to the car. We will definitely make a return trip to Spring Creek Greenway, but I think we’ll start at Jesse Jones Park next time. Can’t wait to see what more the path has to offer!