December in Houston is the perfect time for getting outdoors and taking a break from holiday weight gain.
December in Houston is the perfect time for getting outdoors and taking a break from holiday weight gain.
Photo courtesy of Bayou City Outdoors

On Dasher, on Dancer, Time for BCO's Annual Reindeer Romp

If reindeer are good enough for Santa's sleigh, then the corpulent bearded one might be onto something. Whether it's those mate-attracting antlers or their ability to exist just about anywhere, these circumpolar caribou have inspired plenty of songs, books and film (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 'Twas the night before Christmas), and now they're inspiring an H-Town hike.

Bayou City Outdoors is back with its fourth annual Reindeer Romp, bringing a little bit of Christmas cheer to the holiday season. There's plenty to do this time of year, but most of it involves holiday weight gain, a drain on the checking account, or a chance to embarrass yourself at the company Christmas party. So it's refreshing to find something that actually is fun to do and also good for you.

"It really is. People don’t realize just how many parks we have and how much you can do Inner Loop that really is getting outside, reconnecting, meeting people, and not necessarily fighting the malls and the traffic," says Kelly Howard, owner of BCO, adding that it's "good for you, good for your outlook and good for your health."

Bring your own antlers to the Reindeer Romp, or pick up a set from the organizers. It's the perfect event to do with a friend, for meeting a possible love interest, or as a great couples date. "We attract the whole gamut. People who are trying to stay fit, looking for new friends, couples and even kids go on this one. Which is fine because it’s not a fast pace and we’ll regroup if we need to," says Howard.

But be forewarned. More than a few love connections have resulted from BCO events over the years. "We've had so many weddings it's crazy. It's crazy," says Howard, who estimates she's been invited to at least 20 weddings over the years. She says she's not the ultimate yenta, but might settle for being described as a "yenta in the woods or something."

It's also a dog-friendly event, as long as your pup partner is on a leash, it's no warmer than 70 degrees outside, and you bring water for your bestie.

If the weather is nice and the ground isn't too wet, they'll hike through the wooded trails. If it's too wet they'll reroute the three-and-a-half to four mile hike along the Seymour Lieberman Exertrail. There is no rain date but they generally tread forward unless it's just nasty outside. "We do ask people to register so we can let them know if something changes," says Howard. "If it's just cold and drizzly we go; if it's sunny and hot we go."

Antlers are optional, but hikers should bring their own water (and a bowl for their dog) and wear tennis shoes, running shoes or hiking boots.

Afterwards, some of the attendees always head out to brunch, usually someplace nearby like Canyon Creek. And keep your eyes open, because wherever there are reindeer, Santa just might be nearby.

Bayou City Outdoors' 4th Annual Reindeer Romp runs from 9 to 10:30 a.m. December 10, Memorial Park, 6501 Memorial, 713-524-3567, bayoucityoutdoors.com, free.

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