Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center is a premier 312-acre Harris County Precinct 4 nature preserve.

After many weeks of socially distancing ourselves and spending a lot of time indoors with family and Netflix, leaving the house for a walk in the park sounds, well, blissful.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree.

- It's time for a walk in the park! -

“Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep mind and body healthy,” their COVID-19 webpage reads. “In many areas, people can visit parks, trails and open spaces to relieve stress, get fresh air and stay active.”

The Tribune has already published a feature on bird-watching in the back yard, safe biking on Lake Houston’s miles and miles of trails, and safely playing a healthy round of golf. Ever mindful of the reader’s safety, The Tribune published a story about snakes on the greenbelt, which to love and which to avoid.

Now, it is time to hit the road and explore the wonders of Texas’ parks.

Huntsville State Park, 45 miles north of Lake Houston on Interstate 45, is open for day use and limited camping but advance day pass reservations are required. Their 21 miles of trails, playgrounds, a bird blind and nature center also include the 210-acre Lake Raven available for fishing, swimming or canoeing.

Lake Livingston State Park, 45 miles north of Lake Houston near Highway 59, is open for day use and limited camping. The park offers fishing in one of the largest lakes in the state, swimming, boating, hiking, birding, picnicking and mountain biking.

Sheldon Lake State Park, 13 miles away, is a 2,800-acre recreation and education facility along Sheldon Lake reservoir used primarily for fishing and wildlife observation.

Harris County Precinct 4 operates Jesse Jones Park and Nature Center in Humble, a 312-acre preserve featuring a 16-mile trail system along Spring Creek.

The City of Houston operates Lake Houston Wilderness Park in New Caney, open for day use only. Kingwood Service Association operates River Grove Park, a 74-acre park at the south end of Woodland Hills Drive, and East End Park, a 158-acre park at the east end of Kingwood Drive.

Here are some reminders from the CDC:

Do visit parks close to home. Stay 6 feet away from others you don’t live with. Carefully consider the playground equipment and restroom facilities.

Do not visit a park if you are sick or test positive or were exposed to COVID-19. If the park is crowded, find another park.

Preparing the family for a visit to a state park does not mean avoiding COVID-19. Bring water bottles. Wear hats and sunscreen.

“We’re ready to welcome you back to our beautiful parks,” says Stephanie Garcia with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “We have several guidelines in place for your family’s well-being.”

The guidelines:

— Pre-purchase day passes and overnight reservations, even for annual pass holders, through the Texas State Parks Reservation System at texasstateparks.reserveamerica.com or 512-389-8900.

— Bring face coverings and hand sanitizer.

— Maintain a 6-foot distance from those outside your party.

— Gatherings of groups large than five not of the same household are prohibited.

“We are still operating our parks at a limited capacity,” said Garcia, “which is why we require pre-purchases.”

All transactions, equipment rentals and in-person interpretive programs remain suspended. Group-use facilities and other enclosed spaces where people congregate also remain closed, according to Garcia.

Visit the CDC COVID-19 page for the latest information at cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Check out the latest Texas State Parks and Wildlife updates at tpwd.texas.gov, on Twitter @TPWDnews, and Facebook

@TexasParksandWildlife. Texas Parks and Wildlife information also in available on Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn,

Pinterest and Snapchat.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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