Keith-Wiess Park | Natural Beauty in Northeast Houston
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. Click on the highlighted link to read more about them. 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.
Right next to a large paved parking lot is a cute children’s playground including several rock walls which can be climbed. This area is also near some baseball and soccer fields.
This 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 provided next to the picnic areas.
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 trail is wide and the terrain is fairly 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 paths.
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.
Obviously 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 pier. The birds were enjoying that roosting spot on the railings. No swimming is allowed as this is an alligator and reptile habitat.
This was my favorite part of the trail. Walking around and even over the retention pond on a raised walkway was fun because of seeing all of the wildlife which call this area home.
The white ibis birds pictured above are the ones with pink beaks and legs. According to Wikipedia their legs turn scarlet during breeding season.
We saw an abundance of Neotropic comorants 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 largest creature we saw that day in addition to some sizable dogs was a horse by the name of Pinto.
Just prior to 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.
In all 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 side stepping this rule) and pet owners are to pick up after their pets. Noise levels are to controlled.
Some things prohibited are the following:
- Glass containers
- Scooters and skateboards
- Motorized vehicles past 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 noticed. That longer trail is about 5 miles in length. We would certainly enjoy picnicking there. It is a wonderful place to commune with nature.