Hiking in San Antonio – The Ultimate Guide


Hiking in San Antonio is both easy, and adventurous. There are an abundance of parks and things to do throughout the Alamo City. This ultimate guide to hiking in San Antonio contains hiking trails, community parks, dog friendly parks, scenic views, and must see locations.

Are you looking for things to do while visiting San Antonio?

Do you want to find the best parks in San Antonio?

Do your furry family members want you to take them to more dog friendly places in San Antonio?

This guide will help you with all of the above, and everything else you need to know about hiking in San Antonio. First, let’s look at a few things you may need to consider before setting out on your adventure.

Found a red bridge leading to The Blue Hole spring while hiking in San Antonio.

How Many Parks Are There?

The city of San Antonio contains a lot of parks. There are over 200 parks within the city limits, and most of them are community parks. If you visited a different park (in and around San Antonio) everyday, it may be possible to make it through an entire year without visiting the same park. However, many parks are not ideal for hiking. We have found 30 parks in San Antonio which contain hiking trails. Each of these parks has one or more trails with a potential distance greater than one mile.

Hiking Prep

The first step is choosing a park that meets your goal. The second step is figuring out how to get there. I find that it is easier to type the parks name into a search engine and view it’s location, rather than using the address. Once you have chosen a park and found its location, gather essentials before heading to the park. These might include hiking shoes, water, sunscreen, extra clothes, bug spray, swimwear, snacks, and first aid.

Stay Hydrated

It gets very hot in San Antonio, Texas, especially during the summer months. In the very least, you should carry water with you at all times during hikes. Most San Antonio parks contain water fountains, but you cannot always count on those. One fountain may be out of order or clogged, while red wasps may erupt from another after pressing the button. Yes, I have witnessed each scenario. If you do not bring water, you may regret it. However, you will not regret having enough water to stay hydrated.

Ripping apart the water at dog friendly Pedernales Falls
Know the Terrain

While hiking in San Antonio, you will discover various terrain including concrete, asphalt, gravel, sand, mulch, and natural trails. The concrete and asphalt trails will be easier. They are primarily handicap accessible, and great for beginners. You will not need specific footwear in most cases. However, if you are hiking with your dogs the trail may get too hot for their paws. Many concrete paths are wide, and less shaded. Consider using trails which are heavily shaded to avoid direct sunlight.

The natural trails in San Antonio have more shade, and will vary in difficulty. Some natural trails are more advanced than others, contain roots which act as tripping hazards, and will be muddy after it rains. Natural and gravel trails may require hiking shoes, pants, and bug spray. I don’t know about you, but I am allergic to poison ivy, and other forms of plant life. I try to wear pants on more wooded hikes, but half of the time it is too hot to wear pants.

You may not be able to get the best scenario for your hike. The natural trails are well shaded which is great when it is hot, but you may encounter poison ivy, and biting insects. The wide, paved trails will be free of plants and mud, but there will be less shade. Consequently, it will feel hotter and the risk of sunburn will be higher. These trails may require the use of sunscreen, and provide a good opportunity to wear that cowboy hat.

Don’t get Lost

Some parks contain a trail which forms a single loop. Other parks might have a more linear trail, which means you will have to backtrack. The larger parks contain multiple loops, as well as interconnecting trails. Many of these parks have a trail map next to the parking area. Pay attention to the map so that you know where you are along the trails. Certain parks have trails which deviate from the main path and into the woods. It will be difficult to get lost in most San Antonio parks. However, be sure you know how to determine your location, and how to get back to where you came from, just to be on the safe side.

First Aid

Accidents happen. Educate yourself in the administration of first aid, and carry a first aid pack with you. Luckily, a couple of bee stings is the worst I have had to deal with. You will come across bugs, and flying insects of all sorts. If you have a severe allergy to stings, keep your epinephrine with you at all times. In San Antonio parks you may also encounter snakes, scorpions, spiders, and natural objects which can puncture the skin. You are responsible for yourself, and those with you. Please be careful and prepared.

Wildlife

While hiking in San Antonio, you will come across different types of wildlife. Most of the time the wildlife will be harmless, and run away from you. In northern San Antonio, I ordinarily see deer, squirrels, foxes, armadillos, possums, and hawks. I do not come across too many tarantulas, scorpions, or snakes. Some of the parks on the north side have posted signs warning hikers of possible coyotes, snakes, and bobcats. We came across a large paw print in Stone Oak, which was most likely left by a dog from a giant breed.

While hiking in San Antonio, we found a large paw print in the dirt at Stone Oak Park.

Are the Trails Dog Friendly?

Nearly all of the hiking trails in San Antonio are dog friendly. There are only a couple exceptions. Friedrich Wilderness Park, and Crownridge Canyon are NOT dog friendly. Government Canyon State Natural Area restricts dogs to the front end of the park, which is unspectacular. Each of these parks are northwest of I-10 and Loop 1604. All other trails in San Antonio are dog friendly, including the San Antonio Riverwalk. I have been hiking with my girl, Abbey, at nearly every park in this great city.

Hiking in San Antonio with your dog can be a great experience. Bring extra water for your pup, as well as proper gear. A comfortable harness, or backpack may be essential, and a leash is required. Clean up after your dog so that his droppings do not get stepped on, or washed into the water supply. If it gets too hot, consider hiking around dusk and dawn. Hot pavement can burn paws, and dogs are not immune to sunburn. Signs of overheating may include confusion, heavy panting, and a desire to stay in the shade. Get your pup out of the heat fast if he is showing signs of overheating.

Abbey is one hot, thirsty pup while hiking in San Antonio in the summer.
Fees

Texas State Parks charge a fee of $7, if you do not have a Texas State Parks Pass. Government Canyon State Natural Area is one of these parks. Government Canyon is located on the northwest side of San Antonio. All other San Antonio parks are free to enter. Many parks are open from dawn until dusk. You will find that others are open from 5am – 11pm.

Hiking for Visitors

If you are visiting San Antonio for the first time, welcome to Alamo city, Military city, and River city. It’s all the same great place. Before moving to San Antonio, I visited on two separate occasions and was blown away by the amount of things there are to do here. Although, your feelings about the city will probably depend on your background, and place of residence. In addition to hiking in San Antonio, here is a short list of places downtown you might want to visit.

Abbey was too short for her wings at HemisFair park in downtown San Antonio.
  • The Riverwalk
  • The Alamo
  • The Missions
  • Hemisfair Park and the Tower of the Americas
  • Buckhorn Saloon
  • The Museums (Fire, Western Art, Culture, Ripley’s, etc.)
  • Tobin Center
  • Spanish Governor’s Palace
  • La Villita
  • Market Square
  • Steves Homestead
  • Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours

Attempting to see everything downtown will take a lot of time. Most of it will be spent walking unless you use one of the scooters that came out last year. Once you have had your fill of downtown activities, you may want to visit these San Antonio parks.

  • San Pedro Springs Park
  • Brackenridge Park
  • Pearsall Park
  • Comanche Lookout Park
  • Eisenhower Park
  • Government Canyon
  • Medina Natural Area

There is so much more to do around the San Antonio area, but that is a completely separate topic. If you are interested in doing more hiking, and don’t mind traveling outside San Antonio, checkout our article, “Hiking Near San Antonio – 12 Spectacular Places to Visit Throughout Texas Hill Country“.

The Guadalupe River is a great place to hike outside of San Antonio.

The San Antonio Riverwalk

Visitors and residents flock to the San Antonio Riverwalk everyday, and for good reason. There are many things to do near the downtown section of the riverwalk, and it is aesthetically pleasing. However, the outer sections of the riverwalk (north and south of downtown) contain little foot traffic, and are great for hiking, biking, or kayaking.

The San Antonio Riverwalk is our nations largest urban ecosystem. Although most people prefer to congregate along the downtown stretch, the riverwalk extends 15 miles through the heart of the city. Along the downtown stretch you will find several popular places and attractions.

  • La Villita
  • River boat tours
  • Outdoor theatre
  • Restaurants
  • Steves Homestead
  • Blue Star art complex
  • Guenther House

Special events take place on the riverwalk throughout the year. There are too many events to list here, but some of them include parades on the river, concerts, and races. If you are into hiking longer distances with river views, the outer stretches of the riverwalk may be for you.

A parade takes place on the San Antonio Riverwalk.
The South Side

South of downtown you can find the Missions: Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and San Francisco de la Espada. All of the Missions can be accessed from the riverwalk, but they cannot be seen from it. This section of the riverwalk is known as Mission Reach, and covers approximately ten miles.

Mission Reach is great for hiking, biking, kayaking, and it is dog friendly. Confluence Park can also be found across the river from Mission Concepcion. There are bikes for rent at various points along the riverwalk. During the middle part of the day most of the riverwalk will be in direct sunlight. Since the path is not well shaded, you may want to wear headgear, or sunscreen.

Enjoying the architecture at Mission San Jose in San Antonio.
The North Side

Directly north of downtown you will find the Historic Pearl. Once known as The Pearl Brewery, the restored area has become a local hotspot, filled with restaurants, shops, and special events. The riverwalk runs along the back side of The Pearl, and continues north through Brackenridge Park. Near Brackenridge you will also find the Japanese Tea Garden, the San Antonio Zoo, the DoSeum, and the Botanical Garden. This area is less urban, and more wooded, despite the nearby attractions.

The Olmos Dam is also located in this area, without which there would be no riverwalk as it is known today. The natural springs, and World’s Fair (HemisFair) back in 1968, also played their part. You can find one of these springs at Headwaters Sanctuary, within the University of the Incarnate Word. Despite the spring, I found the hike to be particularly creepy, and called it the spookiest place to hike in San Antonio.

Creepy bridge at Headwaters Sanctuary in San Antonio.

San Antonio Parks With Downtown Views

Throughout our years of hiking in San Antonio, we have found several parks with great views. There are at least four parks containing views of downtown San Antonio. The best view of downtown can be found inside HemisFair Park. Travel up the Tower of the Americas, and you will have found the best view in town.

Hiking in downtown San Antonio with a view of the Tower of the Americas.
Pearsall Park

The other parks are outside of the downtown area, and are located at different positions on the map. To the southwest you will find Pearsall Park. Hike up the hill at this family friendly park and you can see much of the city. Although it is possible to see downtown, it is a bit overshadowed by Lackland Air Force Base.

Eisenhower Park

At the north end of the city you can find Eisenhower Park, which is next to Camp Bullis. Eisenhower is one of the larger, more popular parks for hiking in San Antonio. Several trails can be taken which will lead you to a wooden tower near the back of the park. From the tower you can see downtown San Antonio in the distance, and the Texas Hill Country to the north.

A view of downtown in the distance while hiking in San Antonio.
Comanche Lookout Park

On the northeast side of the city you can find the fourth highest point in all of Bexar County, at Comanche Lookout Park. Unfortunately the tower at Comanche Lookout is off limits, but the park still contains great views. At the highest point in the park you can see downtown San Antonio, Randolph Air Force Base, and other surrounding areas.

These are a few of the parks containing the best views in San Antonio. They would also be excellent locations to watch the sunrise, or sunset in San Antonio. I have been inside the Tower of the Americas during sunset. Coincidentally, it was also Christmastime and many of the lights could be seen after dark. The view was quite spectacular.

A nighttime view from the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio.

San Antonio Greenways

The greenways of San Antonio are a growing network of natural areas following waterways. There are currently 69 miles of trails which are great for hiking, or biking. If you look at the map you will notice that three of the greenways nearly form a circle. Imagine walking, running, or biking the entire circle (upon completion) in, and around San Antonio! My dog would do it!

Apache Creek

This is the shortest of the greenways, and is just west of downtown San Antonio. Approximately ten miles long, it runs from 36th street to Mission Reach at the San Antonio River. There are three parking areas along the Apache Creek trail.

Leon Creek

This greenway is on the northwest side of San Antonio. Approximately 15 miles long, it runs from Eisenhower Park to Lackland Air Force Base. Leon Creek passes by, or through several parks on the west side of the city. You can gain access to this trail from 17 different parking areas.

Medina River

More than ten miles long, this greenway is on the south side of the city. It extends from the San Antonio River, past Mitchell Lake, to Medina River Natural Area. There are currently five areas to park along the Medina River trail.

Entire greenway map for hiking in San Antonio.
Salado Creek

Approximately 30 miles in length, the Salado Creek trail can be accessed on the north, northeast, and east sides of the city. It runs all the way from Shavano Park to South Side Lions Park, nearly connecting to the Median River trail. There are 14 areas to park along the Salado Creek trail. The greenway runs by, or through at least 11 other San Antonio Parks.

The greenways are clearly a major factor when it comes to hiking in San Antonio. With easy access, many parking areas, and concrete pathways, they attract many walkers, runners, and bikers. They are a great addition to help improve daily activity among residents of San Antonio. That being said, I often prefer hiking in the parks because of the noise pollution along the greenways.

The loop trail in Stone Oak, while hiking in San Antonio.

San Antonio Parks With the Most Trails

Many parks are small and unsuitable for hiking in San Antonio, but there are a few larger parks around the city with miles of natural trails.

Government Canyon

Government Canyon State Natural Area is a Texas State Park, which is located on the northwest side of San Antonio. The total size of the park is greater than 12,000 acres, and it contains more than 40 miles of trails to hike. Biking and camping are also allowed at this park. The majority of the park is NOT dog friendly. Dogs are only allowed on the short trails in the front of the park. Unfortunately, this information is often unclear, even under the park rules on the website. Government Canyon is open from 7am – 10pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The park is closed Tuesday through Thursday!

Friedrich Wilderness Park

Friedrich Wilderness Park is a natural area on the north side of San Antonio, connecting it to the Hill Country. The park contains approximately 230 acres, and more than ten miles of trails. The trails are strictly for hiking, and dogs are NOT allowed at this park. Strangely enough, the park is open from 7:30am – 7:50pm.

Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park is also on the north side of San Antonio. The park contains more than 300 acres, and five miles of trails. The trails are good for hiking, and jogging, but not biking. Some of the trails may be more difficult for beginners. Most of the trails are natural, and the park is dog friendly. The park is available for use from sunrise to sunset.

McAllister Park

McAllister Park is just north of the San Antonio Airport. At nearly 1,000 acres in size, it has 15 miles of trails. A third of the trails are paved, while the other two thirds are natural. The trails are good for hiking, biking, and jogging. This park also contains exercise stations, a playground, sports fields, and a dog park. It is open from 5am – 11pm everyday.

Hiking in San Antonio must include McAllister Park.
Phil Hardberger Park

Phil Hardberger Park is also on the north side, and just west of McAllister Park. It is approximately 300 acres and is intersected by Wurzbach Pkwy. There are more than six miles of trails which are good for hiking, jogging, and biking. A bridge is in the works which will connect the east and west sides of the park. There are two dog parks, and playgrounds on either side. The park is open from 7:30am – 8:30pm everyday.

Medina River Natural Area

Medina River is the only natural area on the south side of San Antonio. This park is more than 500 acres in size, and has seven miles of trails. The trails are good for hiking, jogging, and biking. The park is dog friendly, and camping is allowed.

All San Antonio Parks for Hiking

This is a complete list of all 30 parks which have trails that are good for hiking in San Antonio. Each park contains only a short description, but you will find a more detailed article if you follow the link.

Apache Creek Park
  • 3.4 miles of concrete trails
  • West of downtown San Antonio
Bamberger Nature Park
  • 2.5 miles of concrete trails
  • Northwest San Antonio
View of the waterfall from the pagoda.
Brackenridge Park
  • 1.7 mile concrete trail
  • North of downtown near the San Antonio River
Cathedral Rock Park
  • 1.9 mile concrete trail
  • West San Antonio
Comanche Lookout Park
  • 4.5 miles of asphalt and natural trails
  • Exercise stations
  • Northeast San Antonio
The view from Comanche Lookout Park.
Crownridge Canyon Park
  • 1.3 mile gravel trail
  • North of Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Eisenhower Park
  • 6 miles of asphalt and natural trails
  • North San Antonio, next to Camp Bullis
Elmendorf Lake
  • 1.3 mile granite trail
  • West of downtown San Antonio
Falcone Park
  • 1 mile concrete and gravel trail
  • Dog park
  • Northwest San Antonio
Friedrich Wilderness Park
  • 10 miles of natural trails
  • Far North San Antonio, across from the Dominion
Friesenhahn Park
  • 1 mile concrete and natural trails
  • Northeast San Antonio near Comanche Lookout Park
Gold Canyon
  • .8 mile concrete and mulch loop trail
  • Natural trails of various distances
  • North San Antonio
Abby and I at Pedernales Falls State Park
John James Park
  • 1 mile concrete trail with a loop at the tail end
  • Natural trails of various distances
  • East San Antonio
Lady Bird Johnson Park
  • Concrete loop connected to the Salado Creek greenway
  • Dog Park
  • Swimming pool
  • Northeast San Antonio
McAllister Park
  • 15 miles of natural and asphalt trails
  • Exercise stations
  • Dog park
  • North San Antonio
A young buck at McAllister Park in San Antonio.
Medina River Natural Area
  • 7 miles of natural trails
  • Camping
  • South San Antonio
Millers Pond
  • 1 mile asphalt trail
  • Fishing
  • Southwest San Antonio
The church at Mission San Jose.
Mission Parkway
  • 7 miles of asphalt and concrete trails near the San Antonio River
  • South of downtown San Antonio
Mud Creek Park
  • At least 1.5 miles of natural trails
  • Northeast San Antonio
OP Schnabel Park
  • 8.2 miles of natural and concrete trails
  • Biking trails
  • Northwest San Antonio
Olmos Basin
  • 1.5 miles of concrete and granite trails
  • Bark park
  • North of downtown San Antonio
Panther Springs Park
  • 2.5 mile concrete trail with a loop near the center
  • Dog park
  • Far north San Antonio
Pearsall Park
  • Small concrete loop trail connecting to the Leon Creek greenway
  • Epic splashpad
  • Dog park
  • Southwest San Antonio, next to Lackland Air Force Base
Phil Hardberger Park
  • At least 6 miles of natural paving material
  • 2 dog parks
  • North San Antonio
Southside Lions Park
  • Concrete loop trail which circles the lake
  • Connected on either side by the Salado Creek greenway
  • Dog park
  • Fishing
  • East San Antonio
Dirty part of the creek at Headwaters Sanctuary.
Stone Oak Park
  • 2.7 mile asphalt trail with a loop at the tail end
  • Exercise stations
  • Far north San Antonio
Tobin Park
  • 1.7 mile concrete stretch of the Salado Creek greenway
  • Northeast San Antonio
Tom Slick Park
  • Concrete trail which circles the pond
  • Exercise Stations
  • Dog park
  • West San Antonio
Walker Ranch Historic Landmark
  • 1.6 miles of concrete and natural trails which connect to the Salado Creek greenway
  • Northeast San Antonio
Woodlawn Lake
  • 1.5 mile asphalt trail which circles the lake
  • Northwest of downtown San Antonio
A passerby carrying a young child up Enchanted Rock

Hiking in San Antonio

If you have any other questions about hiking in San Antonio after viewing the guide, post them in the comments section below. If you know someone who would also benefit from this information please share it with them.

Hiking is never completely risk free, but it is worth the time. There is always something unique, or interesting to see while hiking in San Antonio. Furthermore, hiking is a fantastic way to increase your activity level.

If you go hiking with your dogs (as I do) they will surely thank you. There are many other great areas to hike around the San Antonio area. Some of these areas include Austin, Boerne, Fredericksburg, Gruene, New Braunfels, and San Marcos. Feel free to view our other articles about hiking outside of San Antonio.

DavidE

I am a certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach. Places for Pups was created to catalog daily, dog friendly adventures. I hope you will share yours here as well.

The content and photos on this site belong to me, and may not be copied or used without permission.
This site contains some ads and affiliate links, from which I may receive a small commission to help further my adventuring.

Even though I discuss places, or things, and emerge from the woods unharmed, I am not at all responsible for you, your family, your friends, or your pets. You are solely responsible for following in my footsteps and trying things described on this site.

I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.
DavidE

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