I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
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 almost 500 acres to the City of Houston with the stipulation that much of it should remain natural and untouched.
The name of this park honors Margaret Elkins’s parents, Harry Carothers Wiess and Olga Keith Wiess. Mr. Wiess was the president of Humble Oil & Refining Company. Mrs. Weiss was a timber heiress, according to information regarding this Keith-Wiess Park.
Mrs. Wiess was very generous and supported many hospitals and other entities such as our Houston Museum of Natural Science plus the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. We owe much to philanthropists like her and her daughter Margaret who share their wealth with the public’s interests in mind.
Playground and Picnic Areas
Next to a large paved parking lot is a cute children’s playground. It includes several rock walls built for some climbing fun. The playground 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.
It was a crisp cold January day when my husband and I explored this park. There were not many people using the picnic tables or playing in any of the recreational spaces provided. There were some hikers and bikers in the park. Walking along the trail was what we wished to do.
The terrain is relatively level, and the concrete path is wide. It is a one-way trail taking individuals over Hall’s Bayou, circling a retention pond, and then leading back the same way if you wish to stay on the paved path. There are seemingly many trails leading into the woods on more natural routes.
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 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.
My favorite part of the path was here. We walked around and even over the retention pond on a raised walkway. It was fun seeing all of the wildlife that calls this area home.
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The white ibis birds pictured above have 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 monogamous birds. If you spot 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 using the boardwalk. Had the water been any higher, that route might not have been available, 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 bison are 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 named 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 should remain on a leash, and pet owners should pick up after their pets. Noise levels should not be too loud.
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. We would enjoy hiking that paved trail again. We would also enjoy hiking the dirt and grass trails that encircle all three detention ponds. It would be fun to see other birds and animals. That longer path is about 5 miles in length. We would certainly enjoy picnicking there. It is a beautiful place to commune with nature.
If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.
— Vincent Van Gogh
Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.
— George Washington Carver
© 2020 Peggy Woods