Bear Creek Park in Harris County, TX
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Bear Creek Pioneers Park
Commonly just called Bear Creek Park, this vast and marvelous multi-use park is a portion of what is called the Addicks Reservoir. It is federally owned land.
Before the 1940s when the Army Corps of Engineers constructed the earthen dam creating Addicks Reservoir, areas towards downtown Houston often flooded during torrential rainstorms.
So while most areas of Bear Creek Park can be enjoyed on a year-round basis, occasionally the park or parts of the park are temporarily closed as floodwaters overtake the grounds.
Amenities in the Park
Found within the park are all kinds of sports facilities. These include fields for baseball and softball; numerous soccer fields; lighted tennis courts and even horseshoe playing.
There are wildlife habitats and an aviary; numerous golfing facilities; an equestrian trail as well as walking trail; playgrounds and hundreds of picnic areas with restrooms and water fountains scattered throughout the park.
A community center; agricultural extension agency and even a farm and ranch club with rodeo arena is also located here along with a very touching Harris County War Memorial area.
Golfing in Bear Creek Park
To golf enthusiast’s delight, there are three 18-hole golf courses as well as two practice putting greens and a driving range at Bear Creek Golf World. Professional instructors can teach lessons in the fine art of golf. There is a clubhouse, the usual concession stands, and a tournament pavilion. Charitable events happen at this location, and all of the lands are leased from Harris County.
The three 18 hole courses vary from greens that are wide open and easy as in the photo above to more challenging. Thus every type of golfer from a beginner to those who are more seasoned can find something to their liking at Bear Creek Golf World inside of this park.
Undeveloped Areas within Bear Creek Park
Bordered by State Highway 6, Clay Road, North Eldridge Parkway and Patterson Road, with all of the other amenities provided within the 2,154 acres ( 8.72 km) park, it is lovely to be able to see some natural areas as well. The address is 3535 War Memorial Street, Houston, Texas 77084.
Shafts of sunlight illuminate fluttering leaves and portions of bark penetrating to spots on the ground in less heavily wooded areas.
Bear Creek (the park’s namesake) meanders throughout the park mostly within its normal confines, but during flood stages it and other waters inundate the park making it unusable for a time.
Aviary Area within Bear Creek Park
All of the birds are here only because they could not survive on the outside. Most have suffered injuries which permanently disable them from being able to thrive on their own. Visitors are warned not to feed them as they are all on specialized diets.
It is evident to anyone walking by these cages that the birds of prey feast upon mice as most often their carcasses are seen littering the ground within their cages.
Information regarding the Crested Caracara taken from an accompanying sign is as follows:
“Inhabits open country and forest of southwestern United States through Central and South America. Generally considered a scavenger, it will feed on live and dead animals.”
There are quite a few different types of birds to be seen in this area.
Duck and Goose Pond
Adjacent to the aviary where the birds are caged is a location where one can sit at picnic tables and even share some bits of bread with the ducks and geese that call this area home.
To give the ducks and geese some protection from overly “friendly” kids or adults, a portion of chain link fencing extends into the water behind which our feather friends can retreat if desired.
A yellow sign shown below is by the road adjacent to this duck and goose pond area. On more than one occasion I have had to stop my car to let a goose or a mother duck and her babies cross the road. Fortunately the speed limit through this part of the park is 20 miles per hour. It helps to protect the many human families as well as wildlife found here.
Wildlife Habitat within Bear Creek Park
To the delight of many people who live in the western part of Houston, there is what might be considered a mini-zoo.
In addition to the aviary, duck and goose pond one can stroll along a chain-link fence (some of it is a double fence) and view the three buffalo that call this place home. There are also emus, common rheas, donkeys, sheep and goats, white-tailed deer and an occasional wild turkey, buzzard and even a peacock.
In the case of the deer, the best times for viewing are early morning or evening as they generally retreat into the forested area behind the fenced area during the heat of the day.
Shaded areas are provided for most of the animals and camera ports are carved out in various spots along the fencing so that people who wish can get unobstructed views of some of these birds and animals.
At times when the reservoir becomes flooded, the animals are all moved to higher and safer surroundings until the waters recede. (A sad note. During one of the most recent floods in Houston, a buffalo drowned before it could be safely evacuated.)
Baseball and Softball Fields within Bear Creek Park
The little league members, as well as their cheering families and friends, enjoy playing their baseball and softball games in Bear Creek Park. Fenced areas help protect fans of the players from being hit by a straying ball.
Bleachers are provided for the parents and others to sit while viewing the games. Some bring comfortable lawn chairs from home and set them up under the shade of a tree. It is a great family gathering place…one of many within the park.
Picnic and Play Areas in Bear Creek Park
These are in abundance! If one wishes to find a quiet spot and string a hammock between two trees and have a quiet picnic or even do some daydreaming this is possible. Conversely, if a group of parents wishes to gather and let their children frolic using the many play areas provided this is also possible.
Bear Creek Park is free to the public and opens from 7 AM to 10 PM every day of the year other than those occasions when the park floods. The hundreds of picnic tables and grills accommodate many people.
One bit of caution which is well posted: No alcoholic beverages are allowed within the park.
Overnight camping is not allowed except for the Houston Rodeo Trail Riders who converge there for an overnight stay before completing their trail ride into town for the annual rodeo events.
The covered pavilions within the park, which can be reserved by calling in advance, make party planning pleasant in case of the unexpected pop-up rain shower. No need to dampen party spirits when one can duck under one of these sheltering structures. Needless-to-say the pavilions are well utilized throughout the year!
Walking / Jogging Trail
There is a well-lighted walking, jogging and biking trail that circles a portion of Bear Creek Park. The path is well utilized by health-conscious people who wish to work in a little daily exercise and get some fresh air at the same time. It is 2.1 miles and encircles some of the soccer fields.
Pets are welcome as long as they are on leashes. There are garbage containers provided for any refuse that might occur.
Depending upon which day and what time of day one wishes to utilize this trail, it can be a quiet activity perfect for contemplation when exercising. At other times it is filled with sights and sounds of families cheering on their kids running and kicking the soccer balls on the fields.
Balloons are often strung in the trees wafting in the breezes surrounding a picnic area where a family is celebrating someone’s birthday or another big event.
Even horse riders are accommodated within a particular area of Bear Creek Park. There are mulched paths that riders can follow for 1.5 or 3.5 miles.
Once when I was attending a photography class, the instructor chose this spot up against the natural backdrop of trees and foliage for our volunteer model to do her posing. No horses or riders seemed to be utilizing the trails that day and had they been; they would soon have been out of sight in any case.
The parking lot in this area provides enough room for not only cars and trucks but also the horse trailers for those transporting their equine friends to this location.
Bear Creek Community Center
This Bear Creek Community Center in Bear Creek Park offers so many beautiful things that are free to the public. It is all funded by taxpayer dollars.
An example of some of the classes in which I have participated is in learning two different types of calligraphy, origami lessons, portrait photography, and pastel portrait painting. This community center is where I first learned how to create a linoleum cut art print.
People gather at the center to exercise, play cards, take classes, listen to lectures on various subjects and even take bus trips to locales all within a days drive of the community center. In the past, I have also taken advantage of some of those trips and learned about interesting places in Texas.
The free classes are for both children and adults, and all one needs to do is to sign up ahead of time before the class (or bus) is filled. A list of required supplies is provided (if necessary) for each class.
This community center and others in different parts of town provide so much value to the areas in which they are located. Many older people who might be otherwise lonely can engage in activities that keep them challenged, entertained, and active. Broadening one’s knowledge in areas of interest at zero cost is also beneficial for young, and old alike.
Harris Co. AgriLife Extension Service
Adjacent to the Community Center is this AgriLife Extension Service building where people can take Master Gardener lessons. One can also find out how to better landscape, fight insect problems, and be better stewards of the land.
Houston Farm and Ranch Club
Taking up 450 acres within Bear Creek Park, this facility dedicated in 1981 has several Texas Longhorns grazing in the fields fronting Highway 6. The Farm & Ranch Club hosts many different types of gatherings during the year. Examples include things like wild game cook-offs and a county fair. The large rodeo arena is used for various occasions throughout the year.
Scholarship funds are routinely raised to help 4-H kids and those involved in FFA. It is in the southwest corner of Bear Creek Park near the Community Center and AgriLife Extension Service.
I hope you enjoyed these pictures and descriptions of amenities within Bear Creek Park, located in Houston, Texas.
Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston metropolitan area August 25-29, 2017 and was a catastrophic flooding event. One year later, people are still trying to recover. Sadly the buildings were damaged in the park and they will not be rebuilt. The golf courses are no longer in use either.
Picnic, baseball and soccer fields are still utilized. Plans are in the works to make some additional changes to this park. Stay tuned!