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Each month leading up to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary celebration, content is created to honor the past, present and future of our community. During June, nature, parks and open space will be highlighted.

By Laura Landsbaum

The Live, Work, Play, Learn and Pray vision of The Woodlands from original founder George Mitchell includes Play as one of the pillars of this unique master planned community for good reason. It stands out as a clear priority — back when The Woodlands first came to life in 1974 and 50 years later today.

The Woodlands is full of places to play — the community boasts 151 neighborhood parks. It’s been designed to be park plentiful, and The Woodlands boasts one park per 815 residents putting it almost 200 percent above the national average for parks per resident, according to the National Recreation and Parks Association.

The first park built in The Woodlands came to life as the community itself did — by design. That would be Tamarac Park in the Village of Grogan’s Mill, the first village with the earliest homes built in The Woodlands.

Parks go hand-in-hand with residential development in The Woodlands.

“Literally a map was drawn with circles to have a park within a 10-minute walk for residents,” president of the Houston region for Howard Hughes Jim Carman says. “It starts with that play feature for the families raising a family here.”

Girl Jumping at Park in The Woodlands

The Woodlands’ Purposeful Park System

“We start putting parks closer to homes, so that kids can be with their parents and they can be nearby,” former The Woodlands Development Company (now Howard Hughes) planner Jim Wendt, who was integral to the development of The Woodlands, notes. “So we developed a whole system of parks.

Parks in The Woodlands are developed, plotted and planned out — from the smallest to the largest.

“The hierarchy was a neighborhood park,” Wendt details. “And the next step up was an area park — a place for people to gather and play tennis, play basketball, volleyball, that sort of thing. And then the next step up is the village park.

“It’s all things to all people. Parks include forts, sports fields, pavilions and aquatics.”

Aquatics can take many forms in The Woodlands park system, from the new sprayground at Bear Branch to community pools. Different neighborhood pools bring different slides, gradual entry areas and pool depths. Lakes and ponds are part of many parks as well, providing plentiful fishing opportunities. The boathouses on Lake Woodlands are part of the parks program too.

Sports Parks

“The next step up is competition fields —  athletic parks, like Bear Branch, and there’s quite a few of them,” Wendt says. “And then there’s the satellite kind of event park, which would be Rob Fleming and North Shore Park.”

These satellite parks host community-wide events in The Woodlands. Think Fourth of July, Memorial Day, other holiday celebrations, and more community happenings.

Dog Parks

Fenced dog parks are also part of The Woodlands’ commitment to park space. More than just dog-friendly, these six parks are typically divided into areas for large and small dogs. Each one includes a shade pavilion, and no dog park would be complete without a play fire hydrant and water features. So every one in The Woodlands includes those.

The parks in The Woodlands are a big part of what makes this pioneering master planned community a special place to live. And play.


Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:

FOUNDING – Howard Hughes

PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township

LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank

HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.

GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School