Where to Hike This Fall in San Antonio
After this extremely hot summer, residents of San Anton are ready to welcome cooler temperatures and outdoor activities that don’t require being within reach of water. While fall isn’t always crisp and cool, temperatures are finally getting a little more comfortable for hiking and exploring the area’s many trails and parks. Here are a few to consider.
Northwest of San Antonio/Boerne
The Friedrich Wilderness Park offers 16 km of hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. The park is also a habitat for two species of birds on the federal endangered species list: the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler.
There is a trail for everyone here. The Main Loop Trail is a good moderate trail if you’re looking for something a little higher than the flat, paved terrain. This rocky 1.7 mile trail has an elevation gain of 350 feet. Many other trails in the park are accessible via the Main Loop Trail, so it’s easy to branch out and extend your hike from there. Plan ahead or leave early as the parking lot is small and can fill up on the busiest days. No animals are allowed. 21395 Milsa Drive
Government Canyon State Natural Area is located in the far northwest corner of San Antonio, near Helotes. The most popular trail is the Joe Johnston route due to 110 million year old dinosaur tracks found about 3 miles away. The full trail out and back is 9 miles long, but most hikers turn around in dinosaur tracks a round trip of about 5.7 miles. The Joe Johnston route, listed as moderate, is often closed after rain, so check before you go. The trail deserves its moderate rating due to the rocky surfaces in places and the length. Most children will have no problem navigating the trail, but it is not suitable for strollers or carts. Pets are also not allowed on the backcountry trails (the Joe Johnston is considered backcountry), but leashed pets are welcome on the front trails -country. Stop by the Visitor Center or visit the website for more information on other trails. Admission is $6 and children 12 and under are free. If you have a Texas Parks and Wildlife Pass, this will cover your admission. 12861 Galm Road
Also known as Cibolo Nature Center, this destination in Boerne offers visitors 6 miles of trails that cross four different ecosystems. Visitors can walk through a meadow, explore the trails that meander along the Cibolo Stream, and stroll through groves of living oak and cypress trees. The complete circuit is approximately 1.5 miles, but it also has several loops and side routes that allow hikers to create their own adventure. Part of the trail winds along Cibolo Creek, so visitors can add wildlife and wildlife (turtles, fish, and birds) viewing to their hike if they choose. The trails are easy to navigate and the portion along the boardwalk is ADA accessible. No admission is required but donations are welcome. Leashed and friendly dogs are allowed. Check the website before planning your visit for information on special events or workshops that may require additional fees or reservations. 140 City Park Road, Boerne
OP Schnabel Park has six main trails and two connecting trails. Most trails are short – less than 2 miles – Leon Creek Gateway North Trail being the exception at 7.7 miles. All trails are easy and many are paved or paved, making them a great choice for families or anyone not interested in steep inclines or navigating rocky areas. The paved trails are popular with cyclists and runners, so expect to share the path. Animals on a leash are welcome. 9606 Bandera Road
North/northeast of San Antonio
This Northside park has 18 miles of trails as well as facilities such as picnic tables and pavilions. There are flat trails (some paved) suitable for family hikes as well as several trails better suited to advanced hikers interested in something more strenuous. The 3 mile Hillview Trail is ideal if you are looking for a challenge. The climb is steep, aided in places by stairs, and covers rocky terrain, but those who persevere are rewarded with fantastic views over the city.
Eisenhower Park is a popular military training location, so if you see someone in uniform carrying a heavy backpack climbing the trail in front of you, let them tell you that the trail is difficult. Leashed pets are welcome, but consider whether your pet can walk the trail you have selected, as some terrain is rough and rocky. 19399 NW Military Highway.
Visitors will find 5 miles of paved trails here and over 10 miles of unpaved natural bike trails and cross-country ski trails that make great easy hiking spots. There’s plenty of vegetation in McAllister Park, and hikers will feel like they’re in the middle of nature without having to stray far from downtown. This park is a popular place to see deer, especially early in the morning. Play areas, restrooms, and shaded picnic tables make this an ideal diversion for families looking to explore. The park is sprawling with several parking lots adjacent to the trailheads, so you’ll need to consult a map before heading out to determine where you’ll park. The biggest challenge of hiking in McAllister Park is the lack of signs and markers, so be sure to check the trail maps. Expect to share the trails with cyclists. Animals on a leash are welcome. 13102 Jones Maltsberger Road
Here you will find 2.3 miles of mixed surface trails (paved, gravel, and asphalt) shaded by live oaks and junipers. While there are a few trails with steeper inclines, it’s an easy and accessible park to explore overall, with much of the property suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. All trails are about a mile long and it’s easy to combine them for a longer hike. The Tower Loop Trail offers panoramic views of San Antonio. On a clear day, you can see the downtown skyline from northeast San Antonio. Several picnic tables and benches are spread throughout the park. Leashed pets are welcome, and it’s a great park for walking your dog or doing your daily exercise. 15551 Nacogdoches Road
South of San Antonio
The Medina River Natural Area is a 511-acre property featuring 7 miles of trails with interpretive features that represent the El Camino Real Wagon trail. The Camino Real and Rio Medina Trail is an easy 2 mile loop trail that includes paved trails as well as dirt and gravel. This trail is suitable for families or anyone who wants that “out of nature” feeling without encountering rough terrain. There are side trails to explore and paths down to the river if you want to extend your hike, but watch out for poison ivy. Animals on a leash are welcome. 15890 highway. 16
This trail can be used to explore the city’s five historical missions. Each mission is about 2.5 miles from the next, so it’s a fun way to combine story and activity. The entire trail is almost 14 miles, but visitors who prefer a shorter hike can choose a segment of interest and start there. The trail is flat with gravel, dirt, and a few paved sections. Anyone can enjoy exploring this trail as long as they choose a distance that matches their abilities. Mission Trail is very popular with cyclists so expect to share the path. This hiking trail is part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Use of trails, entry to missions, and ranger-led programs are free. There are various starting points, but you can’t go wrong with Mission San Jose, 6701 San Jose Drive