John James Park and the Battle that Saved Austin

On the east side of San Antonio lies a park where a battle once took place which prevented the capture of Austin. You’re welcome! We visited John James Park this summer for another adventurous hike in a new place. As always, we learned some fascinating history and saw some unusual things. The amenities are limited, but it’s a good park to play, bike, or take a quick hike with your dog.

Abbey pushes through the wildflowers and weeds which are tall indeed at John James Park.


  • Playground
  • Softball fields (2)
  • Portable toilets
  • Nighttime lighting
  • Asphalt trail

If You Go

John James Park is located between Fort Sam Houston and I-35. If heading west from I-35, you will find the entrance to the park just beyond Salado Creek on the south side of the street. The parking lot is not large, but there was plenty of space in the morning. Even though there was plenty of space, others were using the street for parking. It may be more difficult to find a spot in the evening and during sporting events.

The small playground and fountain at John James Park in San Antonio.

An Interesting History

The park was named after John James, who took part in the Battle of Salado. According to the history, Texas lost only one man in the battle which prevented the capture of Austin. That is one pretty spectacular defense. John James also helped establish the city of Bandera, as well as the first lumberyard in San Antonio. Originally known as Fort Sam Houston Park, it was gifted to San Antonio and named after John James. A good example of how important events also took place at some of our more basic parks. Learning the histories becomes easier, but no less thrilling as we journey into more and more parks.

Benches and tables can be seen near the playground.

Things To Do

John James Park contains a small playground near the parking lot. The playground is not shaded and very hot this time of year (summer). Nearby you will find a water fountain, picnic tables and a few trees for shade. Beyond the playground are two softball fields surrounded by a gravel track. The fields were not in use on a weekday morning, but the case may be different in the evening.

Abbey poses on the hiking trail with her new colorful gear.

John James Park has about a mile of walking trails, which include the unconnected asphalt and gravel paths. From the parking lot you will find access to the asphalt pathway, which is handicap accessible and leads into the woods. The path leads in, around a loop at the end, and back out. There are however, a few natural trails which lead deeper into the woods.

Bike trails leading through the woods near Salado Creek containing overgrown brush.

Into The Woods

We decided to take one of the trails which off shoots from the loop. These trails seemed more like bike trails than walking trails. Most of the time the direction was clear, but the weeds came up knee high. Bikes would have no problem getting through the weeds. The spiders blocking the path are another issue since clearing them out while riding would be difficult. I used a large stick which someone left lying around.

I’m not sure how long we followed the bike trail, but it twisted and turned seemingly taking us back toward the asphalt trail. Eventually we were walking parallel with Salado Creek and lost our way. The trail did not appear to continue, and may have been blocked by brush. I did not intend to push through with shorts on being allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, and plants in general. I would have liked to adventure on, but it would have to wait until a day on which I wore more skin cover. 

An A-frame ladder in the middle of the woods.
A silver A-frame ladder can be seen in the woods (zoom in)

Things We Saw

We turned around to head back out the way we came, but the journey back was not a total loss. Near the creek I saw a silver a-frame ladder, set up as if someone were going to work, out in the woods. I couldn’t see anything else nearby, but it was a short distance from the bike trail. We continued back passing a very old and large tree which held a swing. I easily noticed the swing on the way in, but had not noticed the face at the bottom of the tree. Who carved this masterpiece? There’s always something to see on an adventure.

A tree swing in the woods.

Upon exiting the woods we stopped for a drink and I made a mental note to wear pants next time. I believe there is much more to see at a dog friendly park which contains such history. The asphalt trail is short, but the additional natural trails are an exciting opportunity. Don’t pay too much attention to the undetailed, contradictory reviews online. Sometimes you need to see a place for yourself. John James Park might just be one of those places.

An interesting carving of a face in a tree inside John James Park.


I created Places For Pups to catalog all the dog friendly adventures Abbey and I take on a daily basis, and 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, which will help further our adventuring.

Even though I promote 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 I have described on this site. I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.

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