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Carolyn H Wolff Park: An Urban Arboretum in Houston

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Carolyn H. Wolff Park

Carolyn H. Wolff Park

Nature Enriches Our Souls

Those of us who live in large metropolitan areas see a lot of brick and concrete. Whether it is a few well-tended plants on a balcony, a tiny patch of lawn that we call our own, a community garden in which we can tend vegetables, or a large city park, green spaces in which we can roam or do some daydreaming are essential to our souls.

Carolyn H. Wolff Park fulfills that promise of being able to commune with nature while located in the heart of surrounding businesses and domiciles.

Sign designating the Carolyn H. Wolff Park

Sign designating the Carolyn H. Wolff Park

Where to Find This Park

The location of the Carolyn H. Wolff Park is 11100 Clay Road, Houston, Texas 77041. The park is on the north side of the road between the Sam Houston toll-way and Gessner Road.

A parking lot with several businesses is on the western side of the park, and condos or apartments buttress the eastern side. Several gates lead one into the set-aside land reserve.

My husband and I accessed the park from the western business side. You can see the open gate in the photo below. At the Backyard Cafe & Grill is a spacious outdoor patio area with many tables and chairs. People dining there can enjoy the park vistas from that vantage point. We discovered that this restaurant closes at 4 PM each day, but the park stays open until dark.

History of the Park

A sign inside of the Carolyn H. Wolff Park shows an image of Carolyn and imparts the following story.

In 1972, David S. Wolff first visited and then acquired 150 acres of land that is now Westway Park. He was drawn to this large grove of trees that anchored the land.

According to verbal history, the trees were planted around 1900 by a farmer, whose name is now unknown. The farmer desired to create an arboretum with two of every species of tree native to Harris County. Over the past 100 years, the farmer’s vision has been largely fulfilled as a great number of the original species have thrived and grown to maturity.

David Wolff preserved the grove while the rest of Westway Park developed around it over the next 30 years. In 2004, he permanently set aside the land including the trees as a nature reserve and dedicated this park to his mother, Carolyn H. Wolff, who had imparted to him at an early age an appreciation for nature.

Today and forever in the future, Carolyn H. Wolff Park is to serve as an urban nature reserve and a peaceful place of respite for people and birds alike.

Carolyn H Wolff Park Sign

Carolyn H Wolff Park Sign

Amenities Within the Park

Vast expanses of lawn provide an anchor for the towering trees which take center stage. Seven widely spaced sitting areas offer unique benches and a couple of tables, which are all made of stone.

Several dogs, as well as their owner, appeared to be happily enjoying the park. A quietude exists as one wanders through this beautiful landscape.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

— John Muir

Carolyn H Wolff Park

Carolyn H Wolff Park

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”

— Alice Walker

All About the Trees

A non-profit organization called Trees for Houston has joined Wolff Companies in permanently preserving this site. Their focus is planting, protecting and promoting trees because of their ability to beautify not only the environment but also their ability to cleanse the air and help absorb water to keep it from flooding areas.

One Champion tree, an Overcup Oak is on the property. Six Notable ones are also listed. They are the following: three Water Oaks, one Compton Oak, and two Cherrybark Oaks.

Other species include American Elms, a Cedar Elm, a Cottonwood, a Green Ash, numerous Live Oaks, Pecans, Sweetgums, Shumard Oaks, a Southern Red Oak and three invasive Chinese Tallow trees.

Several signs near individual specimen trees give specific details about them.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

— Frank Lloyd Wright

Urban Forest

Another sign near a grove of trees informs us that this urban forested setting is the nesting spot for a Great Horned Owl.

It was wonderful taking a break from the day and being able to wander through this delightful park. It is not the largest of parks, but it is a real gem and worthy of taking some time to enjoy.

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

— Mother Teresa


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2020:

Hi Linda,

This arboretum, while not large, is lovely.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 15, 2020:

Arboretums are lovely places to visit. The one that you've described sound like no exception. I'd love to see the scenes shown in your photos in real life.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 15, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Yes, I agree that we need more people devoted to saving trees, particularly in our urban areas.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 15, 2020:

Hi Bill,

That park is not that far from where we live. It is a beauty!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 14, 2020:

I appreciate what these people stand for and value what they are doing. I wish more communities had organizations like this to promote trees.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 14, 2020:

Hi Ann,

I agree with you that we all need the beauty, shade, solace, and life-giving oxygen that comes from trees.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 14, 2020:

What a lovely oasis within the city. Those trees are beautiful and I imagined myself laying underneath one on a warm summer day.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 14, 2020:

I love trees and the more that can be brought into inner cities, the better. They are good for the planet, they bring shade, solace and are a calming influence. What more could we want?!


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 13, 2020:

Hi Liz,

That sounds lovely what they have done to commemorate fallen service members in the UK. This arboretum is more about the trees. I also like the unique stone benches and tables.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 13, 2020:

Arboretum are lovely places to take a stroll. You have reviewed this one well. In recent years a National Memorial Arboretum has been created in the UK to commemorate fallen servicemen. It has also become a focus for other memorials.

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