Most weekends, Shanti Day, her 7-year-old daughter, Madelyn, and her mother, Marjie, can be found hitting the trails at Eisenhower Park on the North side of San Antonio for a multigenerational family hike.
“It’s our girl time,” Shanti said. “When we’re feeling adventurous, we take the harder trails that require climbing and technical skills, and when it’s been a long week, the paved trails are there for a leisurely walk. It’s become a special thing for just us girls in the family.”
The beauty of living in San Antonio is there’s a trail for everyone, and there’s no better time than Fall to explore all the parks in and around the city. As the temperatures gradually dip and the humidity clears, hikers can choose a park that suits their physical abilities and not worry about sweating it out.
Jenni Eicher, a certified personal trainer, and health & wellness coach, said before anyone heads out for a hike, they should check the online maps of the trails on the city’s website, www.sanantonio.gov.
“Some unpaved trails look pretty stable at first but can become very rocky at points,” she said.
Eicher agrees with Day that the views and trails at Eisenhower Park are incredible, and she also loves that she can bring her dog. She recommends beginning hikers check out the Leon Springs Greenway, as well.
“There are so many access points, and there are plenty of drinking fountains, places to sit, and some shade along the way,” Eicher said.
Also located in the Leon Springs area, just off Interstate 10, is Friedrich’s Park, which has an easy 2-mile Main Loop and a more difficult 3-mile Restoration Trail. Hilly with beautiful views, the park also offers those seeking adventure a chance to really rock climb versus just walking. Trails like Juniper Ridge and Vista Loop provide solid scrambling areas. Cody Keairns lives in the nearby neighborhood of Stonewall Estates, which overlooks the park. She loves taking her sons, Max and Emmett, to the more adventurous trails.
“They love climbing on the rocks. It’s their favorite part, and it pushes them to keep going,” she said. “The other day, they ended up hiking the entire Restoration Trail.” While the north side of town offers the elevations and views of the Hill Country, the south side offers beautiful paths that wind past rivers, old skeleton barns, historic sites, and more. Medina River Nature Area offers more than 12 miles of predominantly flat trails lined with shady trees. It’s perfect for anyone starting out.
For those looking to hike but stay close into the city, Brackenridge Park offers a 2-mile stroll, and McAllister Park has 17 miles of trails. The northeast side of town is home to Comanche Lookout Park. Its 2.6-mile Tower Loop Trail is perfect for hikers of all levels and winds past a spooky stone tower built in the 1940s, which could also make for a fun photo backdrop. Those looking for a half day trip to explore something new can head to Enchanted Rock State Park near Fredericksburg or check out the 3 miles of diverse vegetation at Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne.
Katie Francis, who lives in San Antonio, brings her son, Nolan, to hike and play in the water.
“It’s been a great place to get away, especially since Coronavirus began in March,” she said. “We pack a lunch and spend the afternoon. It’s like a little getaway, and it’s so beautiful.”
Fall is also the best time of year to check out Lost Maples State Park as the trees turn beautiful shades of golden yellow and burnt orange. Trails here pass by fishing holes, a massive rock shaped like a monkey, and more. The park can be very busy this time of year, so be sure to plan ahead and make reservations before making the two-hour drive out.
Regardless of how experienced a hiker is, everyone who hits the trails needs to be mindful of their clothing and what to bring along, depending on how long they plan to spend outside. The climate in San Antonio makes hydration and sun protection essential year-round.
Zac Batchelor, with REI San Antonio, said it’s important to dress appropriately when heading out. “You definitely want to have something that’s going to protect you from the sun and clothing that’s going to wick sweat away from the body, something that’s flowy to keep you cool,” he said. “As far as hydration, having some kind of reservoir in your backpack that can hold extra water is fantastic.”
Hiking sticks can also be beneficial for those looking for more stability, and Eicher said it’s always important to remember to stretch before and after a hike, regardless of your physical ability level.
“Start with a few knee lifts or marching in place and some side-to-side lunges to get those legs prepped,” Eicher said. “After the hike, when the muscles are warm is when it is recommended to add in some dynamic stretching.”
Eicher is excited to hit the trails this fall and said it’s the perfect time for anyone considering hiking to try it out.
“Getting outdoors is so good for the soul,” she said. “I love that we get perfect outdoor weather well through October and the fresh air can bring new perspectives and thought patterns, and continue to help you work toward your health goals.”
An entire list of San Antonio trails can be found on www.sanantonio.gov.
BY CHRISTIE CUTHBERT
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MARIANA ESPINOSA