Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center is a 2,800 acre outdoor education and recreation facility located in northeast Harris County. The park is split into two units and provides access to the 1,200 acre Sheldon Lake. Eight hundred acres of Sheldon Lake are permanently inundated, while 400 acres are marsh and swamp land.
The lake is accessible from Garrett and Pineland/Fauna roads and the Environmental Learning Center is accessible from Beaumont Highway.Sheldon Lake is located on Carpenter’s Bayou, a tributary of Buffalo Bayou, was constructed in 1942 by the Federal government to provide water for war industries along the Houston Ship Channel. Texas Parks and Wildlife acquired the reservoir in 1952 and designated it as the Sheldon Wildlife Management Area, and opened in 1955. It was not until 1984 that Sheldon Lake was designated a state park in 1984. The area has seen a tremendous influx of urbanization since its beginning, over the past 50 years.
Sheldon Lake State Park is nestled among a variety of grasses, woody plants, and trees including oak, pine, cypress, sycamore and others typical of the Houston area. Marshes, lakes and ponds also contain a variety of water plants such as flowering lilies. The park also offers exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities including deer, raccoon, opossum, rabbit and alligator. More than twenty species of ducks and geese, other waterfowl and occasionally bald eagles and osprey are present mainly during winter months. Heron and egret rookeries are visible on the barrier islands along Pineland/Fauna roads during March-June.
Sheldon Lake State Park offers many activities such as fishing, and wildlife observation. The lake is open every day to public fishing with appropriate licenses. Boats may be launched at the south boat ramp on Pineland Road but must not exceed headway speed while operating on the lake and may be launched at the south boat ramp on Pineland Road. Bank fishing is permitted year round from three T-piers along the west and south levees or the parking lot on Garrett Road. Activities at the Environmental Learning Center include group programming, birding, wildlife/nature study and fishing for children. The Learning Center (open every day 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving & Christmas with extended hours till 7 p.m. on weekends April – October) includes a 1/2 mile self-guided nature trail that passes 28 naturalized ponds which contain alligators and other wildlife. (Binoculars are recommended for best viewing). Free catch-and-release “Family Fishing” is permitted on Saturdays and Sundays only, for children accompanied by adults, in the two fishing ponds. Alternative energy technologies and green building techniques (photovoltaic, solar hot water, wind turbine, & ground coupled geothermal) are demonstrated at the Learning Center. A Wildscape demonstration garden shows techniques to use native plants and wildflowers that attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your backyard. A composting demonstration area shows easy means of “recycling” household leaves and grass. The Environmental Learning Center offers a variety of nature and ecology programs to organized groups on a reservation basis. Park staff and volunteers provide programs on nature/ecology, nature walks, catch-and-release fishing in two stocked ponds (fishing poles provided), pond ecology, native plant gardening, hunter education, composting and recycling. Programs range in time from 1-2 hours each. Without special arrangements, group size is limited to 50 children.
Texas voters approved $2.58 million bond for Sheldon Lake, which developed the old fishery pond area into an outdoor pond area classroom complex along with accessible nature trails for school and scout programs. This work, which was completed in 2005, entails a Pond Area that includes a Pond Center, Pond Plaza, Aquatic Study Stations, habitat restoration and recreational facilities. Future plans include proposed designs for a Visitor Learning Center along with cabins and camping area facilities which are currently unfunded. These facilities are designed to accommodate teachers who will attend environmental education seminars and learning sessions on site so the amenities at Sheldon can be made a part of their classroom curriculum
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 41 to 50 feet.
Weather: Average annual rainfall is 42.6 inches. January average low is 46 degrees. July average high is 93 degrees. National Weather Service forecast for this area.
Schedule:The Environmental Learning Center is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; with extended hours Saturday – Sunday till 7 p.m. April thru October. The lake and its banks and levees are open every day from dawn to dusk.
Directions: Park headquarters is located at the Learning Center at 15315 Beaumont Highway (Business 90), 2 miles east of Beltway 8 or 2 miles west of Sheldon Road at Park Road 138.
Heading northbound on Beltway 8 proceed under the overpass of US 90 (Crosby Freeway) for one-quarter-of-a-mile and take “JCT 90 (Business)” exit. Turn right on Business 90 (Beaumont Highway) and head east for two miles to Park Road 138. Look for the flag pole on the north side of the road. There is also a brown highway sign on the right. Turn left over the railroad tracks to the park entrance.
Heading southbound on Beltway 8 turn left and head east on Garrett Rd. for one-half-mile to Fauna. Turn right and head south on Fauna which will change its name to Pineland. On your left will be the Sheldon Lake levee. After two-and-a-half miles cross over the railroad tracks to a stop light. Turn left at the traffic light onto Business 90 (Beaumont Highway) for one mile to Park Road 138. Look for the flag pole on the north side of the road. There is also a brown highway sign on the right. Turn left over the railroad tracks to the park entrance.