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