Keith-Wiess Park | Natural Beauty in Northeast Houston
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Thanks to the generosity of James and Margaret Elkins people in our city are now able to enjoy the fabulous Keith-Wiess Park located in the northeast part of our city. The address is 12300 Aldine Westfield Road, Houston, Texas 77093. They donated just shy of 500 acres to the City of Houston with the stipulation that much of it was to remain natural and untouched.
The name of this park honors both of Margaret Elkins parents, Harry Carothers Wiess and Olga Keith Wiess. Mr. Wiess was the president of Humble Oil & Refining Company, and Mrs. Weiss was a timber heiress according to information regarding this Keith-Wiess Park. Suffice it to say that Mrs. Wiess was very generous and supported many hospitals and other entities such as our Houston Museum of Natural Science as well as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. We owe much to philanthropists like her and her daughter Margaret who share some of their wealth with the public’s interests in mind.
Play and Picnic Areas
Right next to a large paved parking lot is a cute children’s playground including several rock walls built for some climbing fun. This area is also near some baseball and soccer fields.
This pavilion is the largest of the covered pavilions in this park. There are others along with some picnic tables nestled against some trees. Barbecue grills are next to the picnic areas.
Trail Through Keith-Wiess Park
It was a rather cold January day when my husband and I explored this park. There were not many people using the picnic tables or playing on any of the recreational spaces provided. There were some hikers and bikers, however, and walking along the trail was what we wished to do.
The concrete path is wide, and the terrain is relatively level. It is a one-way trail that ultimately takes one over Hall’s Bayou and circles a retention pond and then leads back the same way. That is if you wish to stay on the paved path. There are seemingly many trails leading into the woods on more natural routes.
Flood Control Function
In addition to the beauty of this park, it functions as flood control for the Hall’s Bayou watershed. Shortly after traversing this bridge, one comes out into a clearing where retention ponds have been dredged to hold excess water when needed.
The retention ponds were holding excess water as designed. There would be no fishing from the pier that day as the water was above the dock. The birds were enjoying that roosting spot on the railings. No swimming is allowed as this is an alligator and reptile habitat.
Wildlife in The Park
My favorite part of the path was here. Walking around and even over the retention pond on a raised walkway was fun because of seeing all of the wildlife which calls this area home.
The white ibis birds pictured below are the ones with pink beaks and legs. According to Wikipedia, their legs turn scarlet during the breeding season.
We saw an abundance of Neotropic cormorants in Keith-Wiess Park. They breed in colonies and are known to be a monogamous bird. Where you see one of these birds, you are almost always likely to see others. They consume small fish, aquatic bugs and tadpoles, etc.
We were able to walk over the retention pond by way of the boardwalk. Had the water been any higher that route might have been cut off as it was on the fishing pier. We completed the loop and then headed back through the forested area the way we had come.
The air smelled so fresh and clean in this large forested area. No sounds of motor vehicles intrude upon one’s senses while walking through this pristine landscape. Going back through the ages bison herds once roamed these parts. Native Americans hunted them here. No more buffalo will be spotted here. But birds of many types and smaller creatures are likely to be seen.
The most massive creature we saw that day in addition to some sizable dogs was a horse by the name of Pinto. Just before our leaving a friendly man by the name of Francisco rode up on his horse accompanied by his dog. He told us that he is generally in the park on weekends.
Park Hours and Rules
In all of the City of Houston Parks, the hours are from dawn to dusk. They are all smoke-free zones. Plants and animals are protected, pets are to remain on leash (we saw several instances where people were sidestepping this rule) and pet owners are to pick up after their pets. Noise levels are to be controlled.
Some things prohibited are the following:
- Glass containers
- Scooters and skateboards
- Motorized vehicles beyond the parking lots
- Shopping Carts
- Vending or sales without a permit
My husband and I truly enjoyed the time spent in this park. If we lived closer, we would enjoy hiking that paved trail again plus the dirt and grass one that circles all 3 of the detention ponds to see what other birds and animals might be seen. That longer path is about 5 miles in length. We would certainly enjoy picnicking there. It is a beautiful place to commune with nature.