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Willow Fork Park in Katy, TX: A WFDD Beauty!

Willow Fork Park
Posted: October 12, 2019 at 4:41 pm   /   by   /   comments (4)

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The Willow Fork Drainage District Park

The Willow Fork Park in Katy, Texas, is one of the exceptional parks within the Willow Fork Drainage District.  Unlike Exploration Park, which primarily attracts children and their families, this park is one for all ages.  The beautiful thirty-two acres have a lake, paved trails, disc golf,  a playground, a pavilion, restrooms, gorgeous landscaping, and more.

So far, all of the WWDD parks that we have seen do a good job of informing people about the unique environment in which we live.  As an example, in Freedom Park, one can learn about the importance of Buffalo Bayou as well as the creatures that call it home.  Most people go there to play baseball or to see the magnificent Memorial Tower.

The primary function of the Willow Fork Drainage District is to provide flood protection by ensuring proper drainage.  At the same time, they do a great job of combining that purpose with also giving residents some recreational amenities.

Pedestrian Bridge from the parking lot into Willow Fork Park

Pedestrian Bridge from the parking lot into Willow Fork Park

Location of Park

My husband and I had often seen portions of this park from the road as we traveled south on state highway 99 to exit on Cinco Ranch Boulevard on our way to dine at Las Alamedas or do some shopping in the LaCenterra shopping center. One day we saw a sign on Cinco Ranch Boulevard pointing the way to the park.   Always eager to see what makes each park unique, we decided to explore.

The road into the park takes one alongside a sports field that Cinco Ranch High School students often use to practice football and possibly other sports-related activities.  A large parking lot is available for users of this park.  A pedestrian bridge leads one over a drainage ditch into the park.

Posted Park Rules

Posted Park Rules

Wildlife in the Park

Be sure to look down as you cross the bridge.  Immediately within view of the bridge on the day of our visit were some birds foraging for a meal.  You might also see turtles and other wildlife.  As we walked along the paved trails throughout the well-maintained Willow Fork Park, we saw a good number of birds.  I snapped quite a few photos that day!

One of many birds in Willow Fork Park

One of many birds in Willow Fork Park

Great Egret at the top and an American White Ibis

Great Egret at the top and an American White Ibis

Two anhingas in the water at Willow Fork Park

Two anhingas in the water at Willow Fork Park

Educational Park Signs

As mentioned at the top of this page, Willow Fork Park signs inform people about things that they may or may not know.  If you took note of my photo above, the two swimming birds appear to be anhingas.   One of them has a fish in its mouth. In case you cannot read the sign, here is the story it tells:

“Unlike most waterbirds, anhingas do not have waterproof feathers. This means they’re less bouyant in water, so they can swim quickly and deeply. It also causes them to sit very low in the water, so only their long necks and narrow heads peek above the surface, giving them a serpentine appearance (and their name).”

Other signs are posted as well, including information about the nine-banded armadillo and poisonous snakes.

Anhinga / Snake Bird Sign Information

Anhinga / Snake Bird Sign Information

Nine-banded armadillo information

Nine-banded armadillo information

Poisonous snake info. at Willow Fork Park

Poisonous snake info. at Willow Fork Park

Monarch butterfly info. at Willow Fork Park

Monarch butterfly info. at Willow Fork Park

Disc Golf in Willow Fork Park

There is an 18-hole disc golf course that meanders throughout this beautiful park.  A park sign shows the overall layout, and individual signs show the distance and what is par for each hole.  Disc golf seems to be getting more popular, and many parks are now incorporating this amenity for people to enjoy.

Sign shows the disc golf overall layout in the park

A sign shows the disc golf overall layout in the park

Individual disc golf course signs in Willow Fork Park

Individual disc golf course signs in Willow Fork Park

Aiding Bluebird Habitat in Willow Fork Park

As we wandered the grounds, we noticed some birdhouses as well as bird feeding stations.  We found out that the enclosures were for bluebirds.  Here is what we read about them up by the pavilion:

“Have you seen one of the wooden boxes?

These are bluebird boxes. Bluebird habitation in the greater Houston area is not abundant for these beautiful birds.  So, anything we can do to increase bluebird habitat is greatly needed. While there are 3 species of bluebirds, in Houston, we generally see the eastern bluebird.  Eastern bluebirds sing a soft, sweet, melodic whistle that sounds like chur-leee, chur-leee, tru-ly, tru-ly.  Look for these throughout the winter. Next spring the female will not begin incubating until she has finished laying all her eggs, typically four to seven.  Once she begins brooding the eggs, the chicks should hatch within a couple of weeks, and the hatchlings will become fledglings that will leave the nest within 21 days.

A big THANK YOU to Reed Gibson and Troop 557 for putting out 15 boxes as part of his Boy Scout Eagle project. The poles were donated by Wild Birds Unlimited — Katy.  Thanks to all.”

Bluebird box

Bluebird box

Bird feeding station

Bird feeding station

Walking Through Willow Fork Park

Believe-it-or-not, this was once flat land according to the park website.  Even though there are now some slight undulations in the topography, the paved walkways and boardwalks are easy to navigate.  This park is handicap accessible.  We first walked through this park in the fall season, as can easily be seen by looking at the bald cypress trees.  Their leaves are orange in color, and some have already shed their leaves.  This park is very scenic, and as the trees continue to grow, it will only become more so in time.

Bald Cypress Trees turning fall colors

Bald Cypress Trees turning fall colors

Boardwalk across the lake in Willow Fork Park

Boardwalk across the lake in Willow Fork Park

Looking at the boardwalk and a waterfall

Looking at the boardwalk and a waterfall

Scenery looking towards the pavilion from the boardwalk

Scenery looking towards the pavilion from the boardwalk

View of higher portion of the lake from the boardwalk

View of the higher portion of the lake from the boardwalk

Pavilion and Playground in Willow Fork Park

Picnic tables are situated under cover of the Richard Ward Pavilion. Great views of the lake are seen from that vantage point.  Restrooms are also there on the backside of the pavilion.  An adjacent playground provides a fun area for kids and their parents.  The landscaping is lush, and a butterfly garden attracts Monarch butterflies as well as other winged beauties.

Side view of the pavilion

Side view of the pavilion

View of the pavilion in Willow Fork Park

View of the pavilion in Willow Fork Park

Picnic tables at the pavilion

Picnic tables

Landscaping near the pavilion and playground in Willow Fork Park

Landscaping near the pavilion and playground in Willow Fork Park

Playground in Willow Fork Park

Playground in Willow Fork Park

Playtime!

Playtime!

A Beauty of a Park!

People who live nearby must love visiting Willow Fork Park!  It is large enough with beautifully landscaped open spaces to get in some exercise or meditate as the woman seemed to be doing, as shown in the photo below.  Reservations cannot be made for the use of the pavilion.  It is first-come, first-served.  What a great place for a picnic!  While it is a bit of a drive from where we live, it is on my bucket list of things to do.

Great place to meditate!

Great place to meditate!

A scenic place for a picnic

A scenic place for a picnic

 

 

 

 

Comments (4)

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  • October 19, 2019 at 1:46 am Christy B

    I only played disc golf once but it was a lot of fun! Great to see the wildlife at this location too 🙂

    Reply
    • October 19, 2019 at 4:06 am Peggy

      Hi Christy,

      I have never yet played disc golf but I should probably try. It looks like a lot of fun. The waterways in our area do attract many birds and it is always fun to spot them and take some photos.

      Reply
  • October 16, 2019 at 3:29 pm Lauree Benson

    Thank you for sharing the information and photos about Willow Fork Park. I’m excited to go for a visit!

    Reply
    • October 16, 2019 at 9:53 pm Peggy

      Hi Lauree,

      I am sure that you will enjoy this park. It is a beauty! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply