I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
The Willow Fork Drainage District
The Willow Fork Drainage District's (WFDD) primary function 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.
The WFDD makes sure that the many miles of channels are kept free of silt, and the water funs freely. They work with local utility districts as well as county and federal agencies. Miles of trails that interlink parks are also maintained.
In this post, we will look at the three community parks built and operated by the WFDD, and learn what makes each of them unique.
1. Central Green Park
Central Green is an apt description of this half-acre urban park set in La Centerra shopping center. Shops and restaurants surround a green lawn space. Families can enjoy Central Green park by merely enjoying letting their little ones run and play. It is the smallest of the three community parks.
There are year-round activities held there on the stage that faces the lawn. Access to restrooms is in the rear of the stage area. Other activities, such as Tai Chi, take place on the lawn. Click on the source link at the bottom of this page for a schedule of events.
Benches and tables with chairs surround the verdant setting. One could nicely eat a snack or even an entire meal from one of the nearby restaurants while dining alfresco.
While the lawn area of Central Green is dry, much water is on view in the La Centerra shopping center. The waterways which are a part of the WFDD meander throughout the area. It provides beautiful views as well as habitats for the birds who are always present in this area.
2. Exploration Park
The address of Exploration Park is 15020 Cinco Park Road, Katy, Texas 77450. Lucky are the people living in the neighborhoods adjacent to this park. Parents of children attending the nearby Creech Elementary School are probably familiar with this recreation area. For others with toddlers and children aged up to around 12, be sure to head over to this place of discovery, fun, and sheer beauty.
Park hours are from sunrise to sunset. Fencing surrounds the grounds, and the three entrances have latching gates to keep the little ones safe. A shaded pavilion with picnic tables is on site. There are no reservations for this space, so it is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The landscaping consists of a wide variety of hearty native plants, dry creek bed areas with small pebble-type rocks, and an assortment of larger stones used for climbing or as seating.
Throughout the play area are informative signs. These signs educate people about water cycles, water preservation, plants in the sensory garden, and more. If you are a gardener looking to add some native plants to your garden, you can see how they grow and mature. Take some time to read and learn from the educational signage in the park about water conservation and more.
The play areas are atypical. One green grassy area simulates the effects of an imagined huge raindrop, causing ripples in the lawn. A variety of swings, slides, and other interactive recreational items, some of which we have never previously seen, are located in this park. One example is the bridge when walked upon that makes musical sounds. There is a tower that is a focal point, and in which kids can learn things during playtime.
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It is a fun environment. There were many smiles upon the faces of young and old alike on the day of our visit. One note of caution however...there are water fountains but no restrooms on-site. Also, no pets are allowed.
Free parking is available in an adjacent area along a water diversion channel near Barker Reservoir, across the street from Exploration Park. We spotted several egrets, herons, and turtles plus a fisherman trying his luck in catching perhaps his dinner that evening.
3. Willow Fork Park
The Willow Fork Park in Katy, Texas, is an exceptional park 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.
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.
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 many birds.
Park Signs in Willow Fork Park
Here is some information about anhingas taken from a park sign:
"Unlike most waterbirds, anhingas do not have waterproof feathers. This means they're less buoyant 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, including information about the nine-banded armadillo, poisonous snakes, and Monarch butterflies.
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.
Walking Through Willow Fork Park
Believe-it-or-not, this was once flat land according to the park website. Despite 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.
Picnic tables are under cover of the Richard Ward Pavilion. Great views of the lake are on view 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.
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, picnicking there is on my bucket list of things to do.
Playtime and nature time are important not only for learning but also for health and development.
— Tara Parker-Pope
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