Approximately three miles west of downtown San Antonio, you will find the beautiful Elmendorf Lake Park. Our Lady of the Lake University overlooks this amazing lake on the south side of the park. It is definitely worth a visit, but does not seem to be a well known, or frequented park. In fact, it was completely deserted from the time we arrived until we left. What a shocker! Elmendorf Lake Park has several amenities, looks amazing, and left us with a desire to return.
- Dog friendly
- Public restrooms
- Swimming pool
- Aesthetic seating
- 1.25 mile concrete trail
- Exercise stations
- Bandstand area
- Nighttime lighting
How to get There
Elmendorf Lake Park is very easy to find on the west side of San Antonio. From I-35, or the downtown area, drive west on Commerce Street for about three miles. The west side neighborhood will appear a bit rundown and in need of immediate remodeling, but don’t be alarmed. The park will make up for the less than scenic drive. As soon as the street becomes a two-way (it’s a one-way from Elmendorf Lake to I-37) you have reached the park, and can turn into the parking lot on the south side of the street. There are more than a few spaces in the lot.
Elmendorf lake was “purchased” by the city of San Antonio over 100 years ago. This area on the west side was apparently known (or intended to be known) as the most desirable suburb in San Antonio. Since the idea never took off, the city agreed to make the park immaculate instead. The city installed trees, flowers, bridges, sidewalks, and a dock.
The lake contains several fountains which make use of recirculated water. Water in the lake comes from filtered runoff, as well as Apache Creek/Zarzamora Creek. Why the creek shares two names, I cannot say. The water eventually flows into San Pedro Creek, which flows into the San Antonio River, and so on. The city very recently rebuilt the community pool, and it looks fantastic. It was quite a shame no one was using it.
What it Contains
Elmendorf Lake Park is filled with family friendly amenities. Lets start with the water you can use. It was a very hot summer day when we arrived at the park. The pool was crystal clear and inviting. There are water fountains at the shallow end, and colored umbrellas scattered around it. The opposite end is 4′ 6″ deep, and is handicap accessible.
The splash pad is next to the pool which was spraying water high into the air. It was so hot outside. Abbey was not interested in getting close to the water, but I was. I took the opportunity to splash myself, and noticed I was the only person making use of the park. Unbelievable!
The playground is next to the splash pad, and contains slides and swings and stuff which are a shiny blue color. Both areas contain benches and picnic tables for relaxing parents. There are several awnings overhead which look like hang gliders to me. These provide some shade, but only in specific spots.
Elmendorf Lake Park was an amazing sight, especially in comparison to the neighborhood we drove through. The lake was larger than expected, and stretched from east to west as far as we could see. There were many birds and ducks enjoying the lake. We began on the west side and headed east toward the dam.
Although there are many large trees in the park, we couldn’t find much shade in the middle of the day. We went through a section containing a bandstand, a concession area, and long benches covered in mosaic tiles. No one was using them. From there we crossed a bridge and walked along a path leading toward two other bridges. Technically this was an island. Water was all around us, and much of it was being invaded by some type of water plant this time of year.
On the opposite end of the island one bridge leads toward the pool, and the other leads to Our Lady of the Lake University. There is also a dock on this end of the island which you can use for fishing. However, it was off limits at the time. No one was using the lake. We did finally see someone across the bridge on the University side of the lake. He was the only person we saw near the park.
The Only Downside
There are many reasons to visit Elmendorf Lake Park, but it did have one downside. Near the west side of the park you will notice an island filled with birds. The island is a nice sanctuary. However, your nose may catch a strange smell while you are downwind. It stinks. Bird island is great and all, but we quickly vacated the area because of the stench.
Reasons to Return
I was hoping to walk over to the origin of the creek, but it was just too hot. We nearly made it to the Commerce Street bridge and decided to turn back. Perhaps we were the only ones foolish enough to go out on such a sweltering day? Abbey and I will return to hike along the Apache Creek Trail in the near future. Elmendorf Lake Park contains one of the only lakes we can cross, and or admire from the middle in San Antonio.
This park looks amazing, and is free to use. It’s a great place to hike, bike, walk the dog, or hangout with the family. I do not enjoy running, but I’m not opposed to the idea of jogging through this park. Although we did not see anyone fishing, I’ve heard that some people catch bass and catfish in Elmendorf Lake.
Summer is winding down in San Antonio, and the glowing lantern events are beginning to take place. One of these events will be taking place at Elmendorf Lake in the next couple of months (November). This park is not the type of place you simply visit once, despite the name which sounds like a would be character from Harry Potter. We will definitely be returning soon. Hopefully, we will not be the only ones.
Looking for more outdoor experiences nearby? There is another lake a short distance to the north. It is Woodlawn Lake Park, which contains a trail and other amenities.
Pearsall Park is a short drive southwest, and is next to Lackland Air Force Base. At the park you will find an epic splash pad, a dog park, and access to the Leon Creek Greenway.
If you follow Apache Creek from Elmendorf Lake Park, eventually you will reach the San Antonio River. This spot is just south of downtown where San Pedro Creek meets the San Antonio River. Confluence Park is on the north side of the river, while Concepcion Park and Mission Concepcion are on the southeast side.
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I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.