There’s nothing more we’d rather do during this time of year than spend time outdoors before the sweltering heat finds its way to us. We share a simple way to get yourself outside more this spring while discovering a few gems hidden within our city—and the best part is you can include your family in the fun.
Springtime in Texas is undeniably the most beautiful time of the year. Clear blue skies, light sun-kissed days, and bluebonnets are the signature hallmark of spring, making us South Texans feel like there is nothing we can’t do outdoors. There are those obvious reasons for taking advantage of soaking up the sun before the heavy heat of summer temperatures arrive. Still, there are also other reasons which add positive health benefits for you.
The one you probably hear the most is getting your Vitamin D through sun exposure. It’s good for the bones, blood cells, and the immune system because it helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. Your immunity system gets boost from sunlight, which can help fight off infections. The outdoors is also synonymous with tranquility, so it’s no wonder that sunlight elevates the serotonin levels, which are good for an increase in energy, and it can help to keep your mood calm and positive.
There are plenty of ways to increase your time outside during this time of year, and here within the Alamo City, there is one in particular which may often be overlooked. San Antonio is home to numerous parks with walking trails tucked in and all around the city. These hidden gems nestled within the confines of our bustling metropolis allow for a momentary escape from the “big city.” They provide the perfect opportunity to get your outdoor fix by walking the trails and observing the nature, bird watching included. The bonus to all of this is the easy way it can get the grandkids and other family members to join you. If you’re a novice to these trails, there are varying levels to start with from simple, paved routes to more natural terrain along with varying distances. And if you’ve never been bird watching, all you need are a few simple things to get you started. It is useful to have binoculars on hand, a small notepad, and a pencil to keep track and take notes of birdlife you might see. Some parks might also have simple ID cards available at their visitor centers to let you know of which birds live among their trails. Many of these parks even have picnic areas, so packing a lunch may be an option to make a day of your outing. The following list of parks provides just a few suggestions to get you started, along with a few bird species you might find along the way.
Bamberger Nature Park is located on the Northwest side of town and offers excellent trails for beginners with their short mileage and low elevation. Its Main and South Loop, in addition to connector trails, is less than 1.5 miles and provides a simple walking route with its combination of a paved and dirt path. The park also comes with a playground to entertain the grandchildren as well.
Types of Birds to View: Warblers, Tanagers, and Flycatchers.
Crownridge Canyon Park provides the second shortest distance of trails with two dirt trails measuring 1.9 miles. Its Bear Grass Trail is the shortest at .7 miles, and the Red Oak Trail run 1.2 miles. Online reviews rate this as an excellent spot for bird watching and also includes gradual inclines at varying spots.
Types of Birds to View: Golden-cheeked Warblers, Lark Sparrow, and Audubon’s Oriole
Brackenridge Park, located close to the heart of downtown, offers another shorter trail at just 1.7 miles. It’s a mix of concrete and gravel, and there are lots of picnic areas in and around the path. A bonus is its proximity to the San Antonio Zoo and Japanese Tea Garden.
Types of Birds to View: Red-shouldered Hawk, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, and Green Heron
Eisenhower Park is one of the largest parks in the city with over 320 acres of Hill Country landscape with creek beds and canyons. This spot located off of Northwest Military Highway has up to eight different paved and natural trails totaling almost seven miles. The Hillview Natural Trail is its longest route at 2.6 miles, and its shorter trails come in at .4 and .1 miles. According to the San Antonio Audubon Website, the Hillview Trail is also the best for bird watching.
Types of Birds to View: Golden-Fronted Woodpecker, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, and Canyon Wren
Comanche Lookout Park in Northeast San Antonio provides one of the best summit points for a scenic view of the city along its Comanche Loop Trail. It’s the longest trail within the park at .8 miles, and all but one, the Library Main Loop, is a dirt/gravel path. You will find some hilly terrain and a playground near the park’s entrance.
Types of Birds to View: Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black-crested Titmouse, and Long-billed Thrasher
Phil Hardberger Park is another one of the city’s largest parks in the North Central part of town at a little over 300 acres. The Salado Creek Greenway North is its longest trail with 2.2 miles to explore. The park is home to a lot of open wooded areas and features a nature center, classrooms, a bird water feature, and bird blind for plenty of opportunities to bird watch.
Types of Birds to View: Winter Sparrows and Migrating and Winter Warblers
With these trails representing only a handful of the immense spots available, you can find more information on trail locations at the City of San Antonio website. The San Antonio Audubon Society’s website also offers helpful information on bird watching and other places to visit to catch inflight visitors. But no matter where you find yourself along these trails, remember to soak in all the outdoors has to offer.
By Jennifer O’Neill