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The Fred Hartman Baytown Bridge

Run the Longest Cable-Stayed Bridge in Texas for a Great Hill Workout

© 2010 ; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Birdseye view of the Fred Hartman Bridge from Google Earth

In an otherwise flat-as-a-pancake Houston, this bridge is perhaps the best hillwork opportunity around. Not only that, the scenery is spectacular. The bridge spans the Houston ship channel between LaPorte and Baytown and even large tankers and cargo ships passing below look small; see the barges in the photo above.

Is there a downside? Sure, depending on who you ask. For me, it’s just a lot of concrete; my old knees prefer more forgiving surfaces. And even though the shoulder is super wide, it’s still hard to avoid the occasional dust vortex whipped up by the slipstreams from passing trucks. No whining about that though; just wear wrap-around sunglasses.

How long is it? Depending on where you cross over for the return journey, running over and back is about 5.25 miles. Each loop will give you 3 ascents and descents. That sounds counterintuitive, but there is a good reason.

From the Baytown to the LaPorte side is one long bridge, but coming back the opposite direction, the route veers off to add a shorter bridge, or overpass.

How Do I Get There, You Ask?

Easy, because the bridge crosses the channel from Baytown to LaPorte, it is accessible from either community. Coming from Houston? You can get there by taking 225 south from the 610 Loop. Coming from Clear Lake, Pasadena, Seabrook, Kemah, and League City areas? Just hop on Hwy. 146 north.

It’s best to park on the Baytown side. There’s two prime spots to park near the base of the bridge if you've just crossed the bridge from the LaPorte side to the Baytown side. On the left is the Missouri Street Church of Christ.

On your right is a boat launch with a large parking lot. There’s also a port-o-potty at the boat launch; just don’t take a chance on toilet paper; bring your own.

Run the Kemah Bridge as an Alternative

The Kemah bridge (crossing the channel between Kemah and Seabrook) is a good alternative. It’s shorter but steeper, or at least it seems that way. The shoulders are more narrow.

One benefit (especially for the ladies) is that you are more likely to have company; it is a popular running route, and cycling to a lesser extent. While you are there, visit the Kemah Boardwalk on that side and the great seafood stores on the Seabrook side.

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