3 Community Parks in the Willow Fork Drainage District in Katy, Texas

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

Central Green Park

Central Green Park

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.

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


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 23, 2020:

Hi Sarah,

These parks serve dual purposes beautifully while providing people open spaces in which to enjoy. Thanks for your comment.

Sarah on August 23, 2020:

The way the Houston area floods, it is nice to see a coordinated effort at drainage control. I am sure it is also enjoyable to experience these different yet related venues.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2020:

Hi Denise,

Exploration Park is more for the little ones and their parents. I agree with you that Willow Fork Park is more for nature and wildlife lovers, among other things. Thanks for your comment.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 21, 2020:

Although the Exploration Park looks fun I love wildlife and wide-open spaces. It would be lovely to sit and listen to the birds and just relax.



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

Hi Chitrangada,

These three parks add much in the way of leisure entertainment to the Katy community in distinct ways. So happy to know that you enjoyed learning about them.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 13, 2020:

All these three community parks are gorgeous. I loved going through the descriptions and your beautiful pictures.

Thanks for the virtual tour, to some of these amazing places, through your wonderful articles. Thanks for sharing.

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

Hi C E Clark,

You are correct in writing that each of these three parks are all worth visiting. Take care up there, and thanks for your visit and the shares.

C E Clark from North Texas on June 13, 2020:

Your photos are without compare as usual. I chose Central Green Park on the survey, but really, they all look wonderful. I would visit them all if I could. They all look and sound (from your descriptions) like excellent parks to visit. Very relaxing and lots of great scenery. Something we all need these days to take our minds off the news.

Posting to FB & AH.

Stay safe.

Robert Sacchi on May 31, 2020:

Good tip for visitors.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 31, 2020:

Hello Tolovaj,

It is fun to reminisce about visiting such places before the pandemic hit. Open spaces like these parks will be safer options as places reopen for business or pleasure if we still pay attention to social distancing. Thanks for your visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 31, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Between the three parks and all of the amenities presented by the three, it would make for a fun day trip.

Tolovaj on May 31, 2020:

It's so refreshing to see all these beautiful photos with smiling people after being 'imprisoned' in our homes for almost two months. Although it is very unlikely I could ever visit any of presented places, you manged to brought them to your viewers as close as possible. Thank you.

Robert Sacchi on May 30, 2020:

That seems a great place for a day trip.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

These three parks all have so much to offer. So glad you enjoyed being introduced to them.

manatita44 from london on May 30, 2020:

I love the butterfly design, as well as Exploration Fork and Willow Park. Inventive, colourful and creative.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2020:

Hi Yvonne,

I am pleased that you enjoyed the article I wrote featuring the three parks of the WFDD. It must be a fun job maintaining Central Green and overseeing the events held there. It is such a lovely spot! Thank you for your generous comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

It is true. Each of these parks offers amenities that are attractive and have people returning again and again.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 26, 2020:

All the 3 parks are lovely and have ample facilities and attractions for children and adults. Certainly worth visiting again and again.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 25, 2020:

Hi Genna,

Many parts of Texas are slowly opening up, but they are still prescribing caution with social distancing and wearing masks when that is not possible. We are avoiding many public places except for grocery stores when supplies are needed. And in those cases, we wear masks and disposable gloves.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on May 25, 2020:

Hi Peggy. When I look at these beautiful photos, I'm reminded how we cannot venture forth to our own public parks and zoos, and other points of interest. It makes articles such as these and the virtual tours so much more enjoyable and meaningful. Thank you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 22, 2020:

Hi Linda,

It is not the norm to have a park in the middle of a shopping center, which makes Central Green Park special. It provides an area to rest and relax as well as participate in the different events held there if desired. Whoever thought of doing this was very creative!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 21, 2020:

How lovely to have a park next to a shopping center. I'm impressed by the different types of birds in your photos. I didn't realize that there were so many interesting and beautiful places to explore in Texas.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2020:

Hi Adrienne,

It is incredible how much we miss things that we used to take for granted, like visiting parks. Some of them are open again, but people still need to pay attention to social distancing, and the wearing of masks is advisable for safety sake.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

Thanks for chiming in as to which of these three parks would be your favorite.

Adrienne Farricelli on May 21, 2020:

It's so nice to look at pictures of parks at such a critical time. I hope we can soon enjoy parks again as in the old days, breathing fresh air with no masks or worries. You have lots of nice looking parks in Texas!

Rosina S Khan on May 21, 2020:

Great to know about the three beautiful parks. My favorite would be Willow Fork Park full of scenic beauties and wildlife to watch. Good for people of all ages. Yes, I would prefer this park. Great photos too. Thanks for sharing, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2020:

Hi Liz,

Yes, they serve a dual purpose and do a great job of it!

Liz Westwood from UK on May 20, 2020:

These parks serve a great dual purpose. You have given a clear guide to them all in your well-illustrated article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

Like you, I love all the birds that congregate in and around these Katy, Texas parks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It is nice to have so many options for outdoor enjoyment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

Exploration Park is the only one where pets are not allowed. At Willow Fork Park, it would be a perfect place to walk dogs, and the trails continue to the subdivisions surrounding this park. So people could walk out their front door and be in the park in short order if living nearby.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 20, 2020:

These parks are beautiful. I love the pictures of the ibis down my the water and also the one where the turtle loks like he is just checking out his surroundings. Any of the these parks would be a nice place for a picnic. Katy, TX sure has soon beautiful areas.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 19, 2020:

These are lovely parks. I’d love to live in an area with so many options for out of door exploration!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 19, 2020:

This would be a nice place to visit, except no pets allowed. Most people would want to take a pet. I would go for the birds, and to see the snake bird. I enjoyed the read.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2020:

Hi Bill,

There are certainly many birds in Willow Fork Park, but we have seen even more in the waterways that weave through the shopping center at La Centerra. It is a great area for bird sightings!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on May 19, 2020:

Katy certainly does a great job with their park’s. They seem to offer something for people of all ages, which is great. As I love watching birds and wildlife I would visit Willow Fork Park often. Great job, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

Willow Fork does have a lovely-sounding name. Each of these three parks offers unique opportunities for those who visit them. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2020:

Hi Bill,

Someone from Maven suggested that I combine some of my articles instead of writing about each park, mural, sculpture, etc. individually. Thus this article is the first combination. I deleted the one already written about Exploration Park and Willow Fork Park. Since these are the three parks created by the WFDD, I hope that this satisfies them for their niche sites.

Lorna Lamon on May 19, 2020:

Wonderful spaces to explore and enjoy nature Peggy. Even the name 'Willow Fork Park' would entice me to visit. It sounds like a wonderful place for a picnic or a leisurely stroll at any time. Lovely article.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 19, 2020:

There you go with Katy again. That city is one huge park, from what I can surmise from your articles. lol I think it's so cool that they value parks that much in that small city. Bravo to them!

Stay safe, my friend.

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