Nestled on the banks of the Brazos River, Stephen F. Austin State Park provides the opportunity to get up close to nature. Located just 30 minutes from the outskirts of Houston, this quiet and peaceful park is a nice escape from the busy city life. Several species of flora and fauna call the park home, and many are visible with just a car ride through. * $4 per day, per person 13 and older * $5 per day (holidays), per person 13 and older
We hiked the full perimeter, which came out to just under 4 miles. I'm there for the hiking and the solitude, hence my 3-star rating. Your preferences may differ from mine. Read on for more detail.
It's a pretty trail, with lots of wildflowers. We also saw raccoons and deer. The trail by the Brazos River is now open, so you can go fishing there, if that's your thing. There are some hills, but nothing very challenging. (This is the coastal plain, after all.) A good place to take small children car-camping.
It's a small park, so if you hope to hike serious distance, then you'll have to hike some trails more than once. It's also very close to greater Houston, so it's very popular. We were always within earshot of some sort of man-made noise: car engines, a chainsaw, an airplane, or voices. At no point was it ever quiet. (It was a weekend. I'm sure it's quieter during the week.) The trail goes by the campground.
My final opinion:
It's a good park to take small children, but if you're looking to *really* get away, I don't recommend it.
There is not any single track trail, the entire system is comprised of several short segment trails that are all less than one mile, with the exception of one trail which is just over one mile (and is currently closed as a result of heavy spring rain having damaged the trail). The trail segments are mostly flat with a couple short hills, they are black dirt, which when traversed after it rains is unpleasant as it becomes relatively sticky. There are dozens of deer on the trail and views of the Brazos, so even though the trail was easy (for myself) I would recommend it. I do think it would be worth taking my children who are learning to ride bicycles off road.
Richard G. on Cottonwood Brazos River Loop Trail
Good state park that is well maintained. Some small hills but mostly flat. No long trails but can get in at least 3-4 miles without backtracking. Beautiful landscape and view of the river. Easy to follow trails.
Nice place to get some fresh air and get away from the man-made "nature trails" you find in the Houston area. There is no skill required to hike out here, so all ages and levels of ability can enjoy these trails. My six year old has completed the trails with us more than once, and we were able to take her wagon the entire way because the terrain was fairly level.
Jennifer D. on Cottonwood Brazos River Loop Trail
This park is not in Sealy, TX, it's in San Felipe, TX, however the two towns are practically right next to each other. I trail run at Stephen F Austin state park with my dog once or twice a week and we both love it so much that I got a state park pass. The five-plus miles of trails have lots of criss-crossing and interconnecting and so we never take the same route twice. Parts of the trails especially on the West side of the park get real muddy when it rains, but that just makes us work that much harder. Might be good for a mud run 5K or 10K event! The westernmost restroom building (in the RV loop) has a mud station that's perfect for hosing off bikes, shoes, and dogs that like to jump in the river!
Liz O. on Cottonwood Brazos River Loop Trail
I have been to this Park a few times, saw lots of deer. the trail that we took was an easy one.