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Exploring the Greenway Trails

By Hannah Monroe | Feb 7 2014

This is post 5 in a series. See them all here.

Did you know that there is a long-term goal to encircle all of San Antonio in multi-use linear parks? Progress toward that vision is already underway in the construction and completion of trails along many of San Antonio’s creeks and rivers.

It all started in the 1990s when Former Mayor Peak and community members began to form the idea of a ring of hike and bike trails in flood zones along city-owned creeks. Currently there are 45 miles of developed greenway trails now open to the public. That’s about 1,200 acres of creek-side open space all open and available to you, your family, and your friends!

Completing the ring requires funding for about 32 miles of new trail mostly along Leon and Salado Creeks. Once the ring is completed there will be over 130 miles of trails!

Last month I got the opportunity to sit down with Brandon Ross, an 8 year veteran of the Parks and Recreation Department. He is the Special Projects Manager and the person in charge of conducting the planning, land acquisition, design and construction of the greenway trails.

Brandon Ross is passionate about enjoying the greenway trails and for good reason. He’s had some amazing experiences with his family exploring the parks and greenway trails in Houston and San Antonio. He’s excited to provide similar experiences to San Antonians through the continued development of the greenway trails. For him it’s rewarding work to have the trails completed and to see people enjoying them!

Leon Greenway Trail 1

Leon Creek Greenway Trail (click here for full list of trails and maps!) Photo courtesy of San Antonio Parks and Recreation.

Current Projects

More trails are coming under design and construction of progress toward the end goal of having a ring of trails around the city. The 2.4-mile connection between Hardberger Park and Walker Ranch Park is now open to the public. In 2014, there are several sections that will go under construction including Olmos Creek and six miles of trail on the Medina River. Parks and Rec will start construction on 8 to 11 miles of trail this year and will open them to the public in future years. This is exciting news – it means opportunities for outdoor recreation options to San Antonians will expand around the city!

The trails have amazing impacts on the neighborhoods and the city. There is a high fitness impact on the neighborhoods where greenways have already been developed. Neighbors have the opportunity to enjoy being outside in a beautiful place and becoming more active. The trails also protect the creeks from becoming dumping sites that could contaminate local water sources.

The creeks are beautiful, but are not fit for residential or commercial development so the greenway trails provide another way to use and enjoy them. The trails also protect riparian areas (the space between the land and a river or stream). Protecting riparian areas means that open spaces, animal habitats and plants are preserved. Additionally, riparian preservation contributes positively to the physical and psychological well-being of people and provides incredible opportunities for us to spend time outdoors in some truly beautiful natural areas.

Salado Creek Greenway Trail

Salado Creek Greenway Trail (click here for full list of trails and maps!) Photo courtesy of San Antonio Parks and Recreation.

Greenway Trails’ Best Kept Secrets

When you think of south central Texas, you might not think of picturesque cliffs, wildlife, and larger trees, but that’s what exists near the greenway trails. Along with this, Brandon shared some of the best kept secrets of the greenway trails. The Salado Creek Greenway on the eastside is absolutely beautiful, but it often goes unnoticed. This greenway trail runs from I-35 to Southside Lions Park. It is even planned to connect to Menger Creek near the AT&T Center and close to the Choice and Promise Neighborhoods. Brandon also pointed to the Medina Creek Greenway as a really beautiful area to explore. It’s a little bit out of the way since it’s outside of Loop 410 South, but it’s definitely worth it to go adventuring.

The Future

Some of the more immediate future goals include completing:

• the connection between Leon Creek and Salado Creek,

• the Westside creeks,

• the tributary connections on Leon Creek, and

• the extension of Salado Creek South.

Continued additions to the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail system necessitate securing more funding to acquire land for other connections to complete the circle. This would involve continuing to support the sales tax initiative that provides the funding for these trails. This sales tax initiative was supported in 2000, 2005, and 2010.

On the whole, the creeks contribute positively to the quality of life, protect open areas and natural habitats, provide spaces for outdoor recreation, and increase access to green space for San Antonians.

What You Can Do

If you’ve already explored one greenway trail, look at the map or the Parks and Recreation Trails website and pick a different trail to explore a little to expand your experiences. Grab a bicycle or your walking shoes and a friend or family member and explore these San Antonio gems together.

OR, you could make an SA2020 Resolution to get outside more in our city! There’s two resolutions that you could incorporate the Greenway Trails into:

Resolve to Walk More

Resolve to Go to Parks

There are also opportunities to volunteer with Parks and Recreation to support the greenway trails. If you’ve enjoyed time in the greenway trails or parks or have volunteered to protect and support them, please email SA2020@saha.org with your stories. Email SA2020@saha.org if you are interested in learning more about these volunteer opportunities or sharing your stories. We want to hear from you!

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Hannah Monroe

Hannah Monroe is a recent Trinity University graduate (2013) with a B.A. in Urban Studies: Public Policy and Issues and minors in Economics, Spanish, and Sociology. She finished her Trinity University Mellon Community Fellow with the SA2020 Neighborhoods and Growth Management cause area and is now working as the SA2020 Neighborhoods Liaison at SAHA and interning at the First Presbyterian Church on a University and Young Adults summer fellowship. In her free time she enjoys kickin' it old school while swing dancing and playing music on her record player.

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