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Bear Creek Park: Changes in the Largest County Park in Texas

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Goose waddling in Bear Creek Park

Goose waddling in Bear Creek Park

Bear Creek Pioneers Park

Commonly just called Bear Creek Park, this vast and marvelous multi-use park is a portion of what is called the Addicks Reservoir. It is federally owned land.

Before the 1940s, when the Army Corps of Engineers constructed the earthen dam creating Addicks Reservoir, areas towards downtown Houston often flooded during torrential rainstorms.

So while most areas of this park are enjoyable on a year-round basis, occasionally the entire park or parts of the park are temporarily closed. Bear Creek (the park's namesake) meanders throughout the park mostly within its normal confines, but during flood stages it and other waters inundate the park making it unusable for a time.

Those of us who live nearby and who enjoy this immense county park are used to the occasional flooding of the park. It was designed to operate that way.

Amenities Before Hurricane Harvey

Found within the park are all kinds of sports facilities. These include fields for baseball and softball, numerous soccer fields, lighted tennis courts, and even horseshoe playing. Harris County leases all of the lands within the park.

There are wildlife habitats and an aviary, numerous golfing facilities, an equestrian trail as well as walking trail, playgrounds and hundreds of picnic areas with restrooms and water fountains scattered throughout the park.

Many people enjoy fishing in this park.

A community center, agricultural extension agency, and even a farm and ranch club with rodeo arena is also located here along with a very touching Harris County War Memorial.

To golf enthusiast's delight, there are three 18-hole golf courses as well as two practice putting greens and a driving range at Bear Creek Golf World. Professional instructors can teach lessons in the fine art of golf. There is a clubhouse, the usual concession stands, and a tournament pavilion. Charitable events happen at this location. The three 18 hole courses vary from greens that are wide open and easy to those more challenging.

After Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston metropolitan area August 25-29, 2017 and was a catastrophic flooding event. One year later, people were still trying to recover. Sadly the buildings were damaged in the park and they will not be rebuilt. They include the following:

  • The Bear Creek Community Center offered so many beautiful things free to the public, all funded by taxpayer dollars. An example of some of the classes in which I have participated is in learning two different types of calligraphy, origami lessons, portrait photography, and pastel portrait painting. This community center is where I first learned how to create a linoleum cut art print. People gathered at the center to exercise, play cards, take classes, listen to lectures on various subjects, and even take bus trips to locales all within a day's drive of the community center.
  • At the AgriLife Extension Service building people could take master gardener lessons. Everyone was welcome to find out how to better landscape, fight insect problems, and be better stewards of the land.
  • Taking up 450 acres within Bear Creek Park, the Farm & Ranch Club dedicated in 1981 had several Texas Longhorns grazing in the fields fronting Highway 6. This facility hosted many different types of gatherings during the year. Examples included things like wild game cook-offs and a county fair. The large rodeo arena was used for various occasions throughout the year. Scholarship funds were routinely raised to help 4-H kids and those involved in FFA.
  • The golf courses are no longer in use either.

See some photos above of the amenities that will no longer be available for use in this vast area.

4 Weeks after Hurricane Harvey

Aviary Area within Bear Creek Park

All of the birds are here only because they cannot survive on the outside. Most have suffered injuries that permanently disable them from being able to thrive on their own. Visitors are warned not to feed them as they are all on specialized diets.

Information regarding the Crested Caracara taken from an accompanying sign is as follows:

"Inhabits open country and forest of southwestern United States through Central and South America. Generally considered a scavenger, it will feed on live and dead animals."

There are quite a few different types of birds to be seen in this area, including horned owls.

Duck and Goose Pond

Adjacent to the aviary is a location where one can sit at picnic tables and even share some bits of bread with the ducks and geese that call this area home.

To give the ducks and geese some protection from overly "friendly" kids or adults, a portion of chain link fencing extends into the water behind which our feather friends can retreat if desired.

Fortunately the speed limit through this part of the park is 20 miles per hour. It helps to protect the many human families as well as wildlife found here.

Wildlife Habitat Within Bear Creek Park

To the delight of many people who live in the western part of Houston, there is what might be considered a mini-zoo.

In addition to the aviary, duck, and goose pond one can stroll along a chain-link fence and view the bison, emus, common rheas, donkeys, sheep and goats, white-tailed deer, and an occasional wild turkey, buzzard, and even a peacock.

In the case of the deer, the best times for viewing are early morning or evening as they generally retreat into the forested area behind the fenced area during the heat of the day.

Shaded areas are provided for most of the animals and camera ports are carved out in various spots along with the fencing so that people who wish can get unobstructed views of some of these birds and animals.

At times when the reservoir becomes flooded, the animals are all moved to higher and safer surroundings until the waters recede. Sadly, during one of the past floods in Houston, a bison drowned before it could be safely evacuated.

Baseball and Softball Fields

The little league members, as well as their cheering families and friends, enjoy playing their baseball and softball games in Bear Creek Park. Fenced areas help protect fans of the players from being hit by a straying ball.

Bleachers are provided for the parents and others to sit while viewing the games. Some bring comfortable lawn chairs from home and set them up under the shade of a tree. It is a great family gathering place...one of many within the park.

Picnic and Play Areas in the Park

These are in abundance! If one wishes to find a quiet spot and string a hammock between two trees and have a quiet picnic or even do some daydreaming this is possible. Conversely, if a group of parents wishes to gather and let their children frolic using the many play areas provided this is also possible.

Bear Creek Park is free to the public and opens from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the year other than those occasions when the park floods. The hundreds of picnic tables and grills accommodate many people.

No alcoholic beverages are allowed within the park.

The covered pavilions within the park, which can be reserved by calling in advance, make party planning pleasant in case of the unexpected pop-up rain shower. No need to dampen party spirits when one can duck under one of these sheltering structures. Needless-to-say the pavilions are well utilized throughout the year!

Overnight camping is not allowed except for the annual Houston Rodeo Trail Riders who converge there for an overnight stay before completing their trail ride into town for the annual rodeo events.

This video shows some of the picnic areas and some of what used to be the golf courses in the park.

Trails

There is a well-lighted walking, jogging, and biking trail that circles a portion of Bear Creek Park. The path is well utilized by health-conscious people who wish to work in a little daily exercise and get some fresh air at the same time. It is 2.1 miles and encircles some of the numerous soccer fields.

Pets are welcome as long as they are on leashes. There are garbage containers provided for any refuse that might occur.

Depending upon which day and what time of day one wishes to utilize this trail, it can be a quiet activity perfect for contemplation when exercising. At other times it is filled with sights and sounds of families cheering on their kids running and kicking the soccer balls on the fields.

Balloons are often strung in the trees wafting in the breezes surrounding a picnic area where a family is celebrating someone's birthday or another big event.

Even horse riders are accommodated within a particular area of Bear Creek Park. There are mulched paths that riders can follow for 1.5 or 3.5 miles.

This video shows the many playing fields within the park.

Wooded Areas

Bordered by State Highway 6, Clay Road, North Eldridge Parkway and Patterson Road, with all of the other amenities provided within the 2,154 acres ( 8.72 km) park, it is lovely to be able to see some natural areas as well. The address is 3535 War Memorial Street, Houston, Texas 77084.

All kinds of events are held in Bear Creek Park. Here is one example:

Source:

http://www.pct3.com/Parks/Bear-Creek-Pioneers-Park

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

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 08, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

While some of the buildings and golf courses have permanently closed, the other amenities remain in use except when flooded. It still serves the dual purpose of holding excess water at times. I am glad you liked learning about this massive county park.

Rosina S Khan on October 08, 2020:

This is a great park you mention where there are special rousing classes, an aviary, duck and goose pond, a mini zoo full of animals, sports activities, scopes for a picnic and party, and a whole lot of other activities. Sounds very impressive. It is sad that flooding occurs in some regions of the park at certain times so that they have to be closed and shut down. All in all, very interesting. Thanks for sharing, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2020:

Hi peachy,

The buildings were not only in a flood plain, but also in a reservoir area that was designed to take on excess water. In the past, when the area would flood, the buildings did not seem to be impacted. But it seems to be getting worse each time, and after being flooded several times, it was determined not to rebuild in that area. The added expense was just not deemed worth it.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on July 10, 2020:

Why aren't the government considering to rebuild the buildings damaged by the hurricane?

Robert Sacchi on May 27, 2020:

That's good news.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 27, 2020:

Hi Robert,

The park has recovered from the hurricane with the exception of the buildings that will no longer function as before.

Robert Sacchi on May 26, 2020:

Another lovely looking park in your area. Has it recovered from Hurricane Harvey?

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

Hi Rajan,

I am glad that you enjoyed the videos and photos of Bear Creek Park. Thanks for your comment.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 20, 2020:

Seems this huge park has activities and attractions everyone from children to the elderly will enjoy. It is a delight to watch the visuals and videos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

Yes, it is still an immense park offering many activities to people even after the hurricane damage.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 08, 2020:

This is another wonderul park that gives so many acivities. It is sad that some things were not replaced after the hurricane. It still is a beautiful place, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

There are many other community center buildings not that far from where we live that offer similar-type classes.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 06, 2020:

I’m especially glad to see to aviary and protected area for the larger animals. It’s too bad the building where you took all those good classes won’t be rebuilt.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 06, 2020:

Hello MG Singh,

Like you, I think many of us will be armchair traveling in the days, months, and even perhaps years ahead. Stay safe, and thanks for the virtual visit.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on May 05, 2020:

This looks like a wonderful place and beautifully described by you. I don't know whether I will ever visit this place. Looks unlikely with the travel restrictions.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 05, 2020:

Hi Linda,

It will be interesting to see how the land is transformed over time. It is a vast area, and there is still plenty of things to do and enjoy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 05, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

Your husband would have to find other golf courses, of which we have many, to play his game. They decided not to use the land any longer for golf. They have plans to use the property in other ways. Stay tuned!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 04, 2020:

The park sounds like a wonderful place to visit. I love the fact that there are so many things to do there. It would be very interesting to explore the area. It's a shame that some of the facilities weren't rebuilt after Hurricane Harvey, though.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2020:

Hi Diana,

I agree that all of these public parks are fantastic places in which to spend some quality time.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2020:

Hi Mary,

There are several pavilions in this large park. The free classes will have to be held in other nearby community center buildings, however.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2020:

Hi Liz,

It is too bad that the buildings were deemed not worthy of being repaired again. But as a taxpayer, I like to think that the correct decisions were made.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2020:

Hi Bill,

That is the old saying: "Everything is bigger and better in Texas!" Ha!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 04, 2020:

This was another interesting read. Bear Creek Park has something for everyone. My husband would love the golfing and I would like the tennis. It's a shame the bison drowned before he could be rescued. Your photos were really good.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on May 04, 2020:

These parks with all the animals and birds plus open spaces, are such an asset to a community. Everyone can enjoy the fresh air and beautiful surrounds.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 04, 2020:

This looks like a park to visit and if you're lucky to live close by to spend much time in. The pavilion looks lovely and I like that there are classes offered by the park to the community.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 04, 2020:

What a shame that some things were not replaced after the hurricane. This still looks like a great park though, for people to enjoy.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 04, 2020:

Everything is big in Texas, right? Well this park is unbelievable. My goodness, you Texans know how to do things right. I am impressed.