When we were sitting in veterinary orientation, we were told many times that the healthy habits we form now — in the intense and busy environment of veterinary school — are the ones we will maintain in our intense and busy lives as veterinarians. Veterinary medicine is a challenging and demanding career, so it is important to find routines that allow us to keep our minds and bodies healthy.
I have always believed that exercise is a great form of stress relief; the physical exertion gives my brain a break from thinking and forces some of the pent-up energy out of my body. As I prepared for my first semester of veterinary school this past fall, I wanted to make sure that I made time in my schedule for physical activity, especially running.
I was nervous about finding scenic, outdoor running loops close to school, but after a semester of thorough exploration, I have located multiple scenic, easily accessible trails, neighborhoods, and parks. For all my current and prospective veterinary school classmates looking to spend some time outside, I have compiled a list of five 3-4 mile loops within 20 minutes of the veterinary school that are easily adjustable for all activity levels.
Lake Bryan – 16 minutes away
Lake Bryan and surrounding trails are utilized for a wide variety of activities including walking, running, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, boating, and camping.
After pulling through the main gate, park in the gravel lot on the left side. Trail heads start on both sides of the road. The main walking / running trail is a gravel path that surrounds the entire perimeter of the lake. There are many small mountain bike trails off the main trail that are open to foot-traffic, but pedestrians need to carefully watch for cyclists. The full circle of the main trail is about 11 miles, but there are many options for shorter out-and-back routes.
Pros: waterfront views, well-maintained trails, lots of parking
Cons: $5 fee to enter property, only accessible during specific hours (usually 9am-8pm), farther from school
Traditions – 5 minutes away
The golf course, club house, and Stella Hotel are centrally located and surrounded by many neighborhoods.
There are two main options for parking. If you are coming from F&B Road, park at the public lots outside the Stella hotel (A below). You can route up the roads around the Traditions sky tower and lake walk, past the club house, and through some of the surrounding neighborhoods. If you are coming from Villa Maria Road, park at the small lot on the right just beyond the Traditions sign and entrance.
Pros: lots of different potential loops, lots to see – fancy houses, ponds, bridges, well-maintained sidewalks
Cons: popular – lots of other walkers & runners
Wolf Pen Creek Park – 10 minutes away
Wolf Pen Creek is a 63 acre park and trail system in downtown College Station. The trail system is split into two sections, but the majority of the park, including the pond and amphitheater, is in the north half.
There are three established parking areas, one at each end of the trail system and one in the middle off Colgate drive. Wide paved sidewalks follow the creek and ponds throughout the park.
Pros: well-maintained sidewalks, very scenic pond, great green space in an otherwise developed area
Cons: very close to major roads and strip malls, very busy if there are events at the park
Lick Creek State Park – 20 minutes away
Lick Creek State Park is a 500-acre state park that boasts about 5 miles of horseback riding, biking, and walking trails, a nature center, and an outdoor amphitheater.
I recommend parking at the main lot next to the nature center. Most of the trailheads begin behind the nature center and there is a large map for route planning. The wide gravel trails loop through meadows, forest sections, and over small creeks.
Pros: really feels like you are out in nature
Cons: definitely farther from vet school, very busy on the weekends when the weather is nice
Research Park at Texas A&M
Research Park is a 40-acre park located in between the George Bush Presidential Library and the veterinary school. The park includes several interconnected ponds, plenty of green space, over a mile and a half of walking/running paths, and an 18-hole disc golf course.
Research Park is within walking distance of the veterinary school, so it is an excellent option for workouts during study breaks or before or after school. It is also home to our Vet School Purina Run / Walk Club that gets together after school every Tuesday!
Pros: scenic ponds and bridges, super close to school!
Cons: few route options, have to cross University Road to get to Research Park from school