Houston Area Trails & More is a collection of like minded hiking enthusiast who join together for long day-hikes (generally ~10 miles or more). All are welcome to join.
We are not a club or organized group. There is no cost or donations asked to join the group or hike with us. Our leaders are fellow enthusiasts who volunteer by putting together a hike plan as a service for the group.
HATs organizers are not guides nor do we have any special training. We are here to come up with hiking ideas and get the hike started. Expect the same risks and take the same precautions you would take if you were hiking alone, including the fitness level make long hikes. Then enjoy the hike among friends.
We are a friendly group who socialize along the trail. Most members love to talk about places we've hiked, so if you want to make new friends, just strike up a conversation.
If you are new to HATs or just considering hiking with us and want more information, contact Tom, the group organizer.
Guidelines for our hikes
If you are new to hiking the guidelines here provide some the basic recommendations, a place to start. You know your body and its needs the best. Always feel free to ask other hikers if you have specific questions. Most of us love to talk about how we hike and the gear we use.
Distance and speed
Our hikes are typically 10 miles (ranging from 8 to 12*) in distance. However, we occasionally do walk further. The group walks at about 3 miles an hour. This pace is faster than some social walking groups and may challenge some regular walkers. But in our experience, most people in decent shape can finish the hike.
Pets on Hikes
Pets are welcome on our hikes according to the rules of the land manager. Check the park website or other contacts for the land manager. But please remember, our hike routes are not evaluated to be suitable for pets.
What to bring on a hike
- Water - Two liters is enough for most people. In the summer it is not uncommon for people to carry three liters. It is better to err on the side of having too much water than too little. Make sure you start the day well hydrated.
- Snacks for the trail - Hiking is good exercise and a snack for the mid-hike break will help you feel strong for the last half of the hike. Many people like to snack along the way with high energy foods.
- Shoes - Any supportive, sports type shoes you already have will do. If you are looking for new shoes, trail runners offer good lateral support and are a versatile type of sport shoe. They are great for the easy terrain around Houston. For out of town trips to rugged hills or mountains, heavier shoes or boots will offer better protection.
- Weather appropriate clothing - Usually shorts and a light shirt. Some people prefer to have more coverage; a sun protective shirt or long pants to protect from thorns. Long pants and a warm coat will sometimes be needed in winter.
- Hat - A brimmed hat or billed cap will protect the face, and particularly the eyes, from the sun.
- Sunscreen and bug repellant - If you forget, ask around and someone will share.
- A poncho or light rain coat - Not often needed but this is Houston, after all.
- A day pack or shoulder bag to carry most of your items.
As friends, we are here to help each other and want every hiker to have a enjoyable time. We usually have a map of the planned hike available. Most of our PDF format maps can be loaded and used on a phone with the free Avenza Maps app. All hikers are encouraged to bring a copy.
We try to look out for each other. The most common problems are minor strains that slow hikers down. Occasionally hikers don't fully anticipate the effects of long distance walking on other health problems and need assistance. If you ever experience trouble at an event, or see someone who may need assistance, please speak to a HATs leader or fellow hiker.
There is usually a contact phone number on the event page for a hike leader.
Beat the heat
A more serious problem new (or returning) hikers might have is with the summer heat. Please consider your heat tolerance and the weather before joining for a first hike from May through September. Bring extra water.
If you do experience overheating on a hike, often first noticed as dizziness or a throbbing headache, let someone know. We will help.
* The Hugo Mile
We measure the hike distance in Hugo Miles. Named after our founding Fearless Leader, the Hugo Mile is our quantum measure of distance, in which the number of feet per mile cannot be determined in advance.
The number of feet in a Hugo Mile is calculated by dividing the number of feet actually walked during a hike by the planned number of miles. As a result all our hikes are always is the exact distance, in Hugo Miles, as set by the hike leader.
Humor aside, the length of our hikes is usually within a few tenths of a mile to the planned distance and almost always within a half mile.