Doug Goodman

Texas Horror Writer. Cadaver Dog Handler.

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11. Armand Bayou Nature Center Ladybird Trail

Posted by douggoodman on July 30, 2016 at 10:20 PM

11. Armand Bayou Nature Center Ladybird Trail

July 9, 2016

Distance: 1.7 Miles

Time to Hike: 42 minutes

Difficulty: Easy


Armand Bayou Nature Center is an urban nature preserve in my neck of the woods, or better stated, my side of the bayou. Unlike every other park I’ve visited so far, Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC) is not connected to a government parks department. It is owned and operated by a nonprofit group. On July 9, my son’s Cub Scout pack had the opportunity to hike one of ABNC’s three major trails, the Ladybird Trail.

The trail is a fast loop that shows off the prairies and wetlands of the bayou area. We took this trail at 9am on a Saturday morning. Outside, it was already as hot and wet as the devil’s armpit. For a lot of people, this is the worst time to live in Houston. It is a time of ozone and heat warnings, when the added humidity tips the scales toward heat exhaustion. For all this, the scouts had a fun time. Their little legs moved quickly, and they were full of an excitement and enthusiasm that even some parents could not meet. What I mean is, this trail was full of spiders (mostly large banana) and snakes that made parents wave their arms and jump away while the scouts oohed and ahhed. Three different snakes were spotted on the trail. I photographed the hogshead, but I did not see the two copperheads that were reported.

The kids loved it.

This is why we do these things, right? My son was not enthusiastic about hiking. In his defense, he had just spent the past week hiking with his dad. But once he got there, he was a different person and loved every minute of it. Parks like ABNC do such a great service to the community, providing these urban preserves so that people like me and my son can enjoy the nature of our backyard.

But what did this trail teach me? The Ladybird Trail was a great complement to the past week’s trails. By hiking this trail, I could see the difference between the bayou area and Central Texas. Some things were the same, such as similar wildflowers, elms, and oaks. But unlike the limestone of McKinney Falls and Dinosaur Valley, Armand Bayou is a mix of black and red clays. It is also dotted with palmettos, which are an indicator plant, meaning that they only survive in a very specific area (one with high flooding). Compare that to the prickly pears and ocotillos I saw in the other parks.

The Ray Roberts Greenbelt trail is probably closest to the Ladybird Trail because both are East Texas trails along bodies of water. But as one of the many bayous feeding Galveston Bay, ABNC presents a very different challenge than Ray Roberts, being the increased humidity. It traps you, much like the cicada caught in the giant web of a banana spider, a web that, poignantly, was at the end of our trail.

For all my Houston friends, have you walked these trails? How many snakes and spiders did you find?


Categories: 42 Trails

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