What is the best thing to do on a warm, summer day in Texas? Hiking in San Antonio of course! San Antonio is a breathtaking tourist destination that is most commonly known for its historical ambience and unique hiking trails.
If you are anything like me, you probably build up quite an appetite on your hiking expeditions. Thankfully, San Antonio offers exquisite cuisine for those of us who need a place to settle those post-hike munchies.
Today we will take a look at some of the best hiking trails that are in and near San Antonio, Texas. I am sure that many of you will agree that scenery, history and adrenaline-pumping terrains are must-haves when deciding on which hiking trail to go with.
So, if you are looking for an invigorating hiking experience with some extra features to cross off your bucket list, hiking in San Antonio is definitely the way to go!
Here Are 15 Epic Places To Hike In San Antonio
From Crystal Caves to dinosaur tracks and family-friendly outings, let’s delve deeper into the top 15 Epic Hiking Trails in San Antonio.
Rio Medina Trail
Length: 12.6 miles
The Rio Medina Trail is a great choice for hiking enthusiasts who want to explore the breathtaking and historical scenery that walking trails in San Antonio have to offer. It leads you along a crystal clear, tranquil river with a shady forest to protect you from the mid-summer heat.
If the breathtaking scenery doesn’t seal the deal, this exquisite hiking trail also offers a few historical pit stops including an old, abandoned barn that is guaranteed to add an eerie thrill to your hiking adventure. Hikers can choose between a variety of sub-trails that suit their skill and energy levels.
To end off your day with a bang, you can indulge in some mouthwatering cuisine from some of the local restaurants. Stop by TNT Bar-B-Q for some delicious Texas-style barbecue, or Dancing Bear Cantina for a taste of San Antonio’s culture.
There are also a variety of Italian pizza restaurants available for those who want to stick to the classics.
The Rio Medina Trail is also a great option for those who want to escape the crowds that swarm to the San Antonio hiking trails that are more popular to the public. Serene, cool, eerie and secluded- What’s not to love?
Hill Country State Natural Area
Length: 40 miles
Entry fee: $6 for adults. ( Free entry for children under the age of 12)
Filled with rustic, country vibes just outside the city, this epic San Antonio hiking trail is guaranteed to leave you begging for more.
Have you ever found yourself asking: “Do I want creeks or canyons? Ranches or plateaus?” Well, Hill Country State Natural Area is an excellent San Antonio hiking trail that takes you on a journey through all of the above.
One of the greatest highlights of this “jack of all trails” is the variety of additional activities that it has to offer such as horseback riding and camping experiences.
Since the trail stretches for 40 miles it may be a good idea to bring your friends and camping gear along for a rejuvenating night of campfires and conversations.
Don’t forget to make dinner arrangements if you are planning on the full hiking experience with overnight camping!
San Antonio Mission Trail
Length: 24.3 miles
Entry Fee: Free
The San Antonio Mission Trail is an excellent way to get that much-needed dose of agricultural landscapes, historical sights and cultural immersion in one hike.
The trail takes hikers on a Spanish colonial escape through four of San Antonio’s most famous historical sites along with some detours through some local parks.
Taking a hike through the San Antonio Mission Trail is a must for hiking enthusiasts. To add to the experience, it offers mouthwatering food stops in between the diverse heritage sites for hikers to jumpstart their batteries. “Take a hike” doesn’t get more invigorating than this.
With its rich cultural history, ancient catholic churches and historical architecture, “should I” is a no-brainer to answer! The biggest question you’ll need to ask is whether you’re going to stop to re-energize or move along to the next breathtaking sight.
Don’t forget to delve into the history of the San Antonio Mission Trail before your expedition!
Cibolo Nature Center
Length: 1-3 miles
Entry Fee: Free (donations are accepted)
The Cibolo Nature Center Hiking Trail is an excellent starting point for upstarting hikers who want to test their limits with a manageable, yet fruitful hiking expedition.
It’s also a great choice for a day out with the family and conveniently offers interactive maps for those of us who have the tendency to get lost.
They don’t take environmental preservation lightly and encourage visitors to do the same. Take part in Cibolo Nature Center’s hands-on farming experience for everyone to enjoy and benefit from!
The most exciting feature of San Antonio hiking trails is the ecological diversity that they have to offer. The Cibolo Nature Center trails takes you from marshes and forests to savannas and prairies.
It’s also home to a vast range of plant species which makes it an exciting and educational choice for a day out.
Cougar Canyon to Hermit’s Trace Loop
Length: 7.2 miles
Entry Fee: Free
This trail earned its hermit status with good reason. Being a secluded trail that not many people are aware of, the Hermit’s Trace Loop Trail is perfect for nature lovers that want to see nothing else but nature on their hiking expeditions.
The Cougar Canyon to Hermit’s Trace Loop is a pet-friendly trail and an excellent choice for hiking near San Antonio. Previous hikers recommend taking a clockwise approach so that you have less of an “uphill” battle on your hike, but this all depends on whether or not you are up for a challenge!
Due to its steep uphill’s, it’s a great choice for hiking enthusiasts who have some outdoor experience. As an added bonus, the site offers convenient camping grounds which is, without a doubt, the most epic way to end an adrenaline-filled adventure.
Enchanted Rock Loop Trail
Entry Fee: $8 per day (Free entry for children aged 12 and under)
Do you believe in Magic? In my hiking experience, I have found that nature in itself can be quite enchanting. So, if you are looking for a magical hiking experience with tantalizing scenery, the Enchanted Rock Loop Trail is definitely the way to go!
The trail is home to a charming ecosystem. It earned its “enchanting” title from the giant, pink granite dome and is linked to a long history of fascinating folklore that adds to the trail’s mystique.
Unlike the hermit trail, this is quite a popular tourist destination, so be prepared to expand your social circle on the way with the heavily trafficked paths.
Alternatively, the trail is open for night time hiking if you are looking for enchantment and isolation. If you feel lucky, you may catch a glimpse of some deer on the road- just be sure to steer clear of the snakes!
Inks Lake State Park Trail
Length: 4.7 miles
Entry Fee: $6 ( Free entry for children under the age of 12)
Breaking a sweat is an important part of the ultimate hiking experience, especially when you’re hiking in San Antonio. So, bring your swim shorts and sunscreen for a splashing hiking adventure at the Inks Lake State Park Trail that offers its explorers a refreshing ending in a crystal clear lake.
Hiker reviews gave this wet and wonderful trail a whopping 4.2-star overall review and reported sightings of various reptiles and lush vegetation. They also give us a fair heads-up to bring a pair of waterproof boots for the wet terrain.
It’s a good idea to pack your caps and sunscreen to protect yourself from the direct sunlight on parts of the trail that don’t provide much shade.
If you’re looking for challenging, lush, and memorable walking trails in San Antonio, Inks Lake State Park Trail should jump straight to the top of your bucket list.
Crystal Cave Hiking Trail
Entry fee: $16 for adults. $12 for children aged 4-11. Free for children aged 3 and under.
San Antonio hiking trails are full of amazing adventures for the whole family to enjoy. So, bring your family and pets to Crystal Cave for a striking expedition with a historical twist.
When it comes to hiking in San Antonio, this trail makes the top of our list. It takes you through a rustic, 30 ft cave which leads to an awe-striking lookout point that gives you a breathtaking view of Old Baldy.
You can satisfy those post-hike hunger pangs with The Crystal Cave’s very own on-site restaurant that offers a variety of tasty meal options for parents, children and solo hikers.
There’s also a miniature golf course for the kids to enjoy and a lovely souvenir shop so that you don’t have to leave empty handed.
Although the trail is quite short, it’s steep incline requires some extra stamina which makes it quite challenging. Thankfully, the short distance makes it achievable for beginners as well.
The reward at the end of the trail is the refreshing dip that you can take in the river, which will make the rocky and hilly terrain treck worth while.
McAllister Park Blue Loop Trail
Length: 6.7 miles
Entry Fee: Free
The McAllister Park Blue Loop Trail is popular as the trail offers calmness and serenity due to all the beautiful Texas Bluebonnet flowers blooming along the trail.
It’s a great trail for beginners who are looking to test their limits but this trail is rated as moderately difficult due to its length and incline.
This is also a great trail for an outdoor adventure that your family and pets can participate in! The semi-paved trail is accessible to parents with strollers and the striking blue wildflowers, shady forests, and a variety of bird species are bound to keep your kids active and entertained!
On the downside, reviews from previous hikers say it’s not the best trail for those of us who get lost easily. They also warn their fellow hikers to steer clear of mountain bikers on the roads who don’t give pedestrians the right of way.
On the upside, the McAllister Park Blue Loop Trail seems to give other San Antonio hiking trails reasonable competition when it comes to wildlife sightings.
Previous hikers have reported sightings of squirrels, deer and a variety of birds. The trail is also laden with stunning, blue wildflowers which explains its name-It’s blue da ba dee da ba dai.
Library and Comanche Loops Trail
Length: 1.6 miles
Entry Fee: Free
The Library and Comanche Loops Trail allows you to climb to the top of the world with your with your family and friends and take in the astonishing views of the city below.
This epic San Antonio hiking trail offers hikers an adventure within an adventure with its playgrounds, picnic areas and spectacular lookout point at the peak of a 30 ft rock tower.
There are an ample amount of rest spots available for recharging your batteries which makes this one of the best trails for beginners who are looking for a way to burn off some extra calories while hiking in San Antonio.
Since you’ve already burned off the calories, why not stop by one of Comanche Park’s surrounding restaurants? Although a few of the local restaurants are a bit high-priced, they offer exquisite cuisine, juicy steaks and irresistible seafood options.
If you are looking for a more modest meal, you can indulge in some cheesy pizza that you and your kids are bound to enjoy!
Keep in mind that this is one of the more popular San Antonio trails, so it’s a good idea to plan accordingly if you want to miss the traffic.
Otherwise, you can pack your sunscreen and water bottles and prepare to meet some interesting people along the way.
Joe Johnston Route Trail:
Length: 9.3 miles
Entry fee: $6 ( Free entry for children under the age of 12)
The Joe Johnston Route Trail takes hiking in San Antonio straight from historical to downright ancient with its recently discovered dinosaur footprints.
These footprints have become a very popular tourist attraction. The path itself passes by a historical pioneer homestead that completes its historical vibe.
The trail leads you through shady forests and over rocky terrains, so it’s best to bring your best pair of hiking boots. This trails isn’t ideal for beginners but is an excellent choice for hikers who are moderately experienced.
Don’t get lost! Download this map of the Joe Johnston Route Trail.
The Joe Johnston Route Trail is a personal favorite to many who want the full package of history, scenery, and forestry when hiking near San Antonio.
It is best to book this hike in advance especially now that the dinosaur tracks have been discovered and the trail has become even more popular.
Crownridge Canyon Hiking Trail:
Length: 2 miles
Entry fee: Free
The Crownridge Canyon Hiking Trail is another exquisite San Antonio Hiking Trail that is perfect for hikers of any level. There are 4 separate trails that allow you to take in the lush hillsides and forest-filled canyons while getting the adrenaline flowing.
This is one of the top-rated sites for hiking near San Antonio and is perfect for beginners who don’t want to spend a full day hiking. To make matters better, Crownridge Canyon offers a wheelchair-friendly hiking trail so that anyone can enjoy the spectacular views and wide range of bird species!
You can plan a mind-blowing day out with friends or family, starting with a short and peaceful hike and ending with a tasty lunch at one of the surrounding Mexican, Taiwanese, Southern or Sushi restaurants.
Take a look at some of the top-rated Crownridge Canyon restaurants here!
Old Tunnel State Park
Difficulty: All levels
Length: 0/7 miles
Entry fee: Free
The Old Tunnel State Park is another excellent bucket-list option for hiking in San Antonio, especially for hiking connoisseurs who simply can’t get enough of San Antonio’s historically eerie ambiance.
Unlike the other hiking trails that we’ve discussed, this trail takes hikers on a journey through San Antonio’s famous, abandoned railway tunnels that were shut down in 1940.
The adrenaline-pumping eeriness doesn’t stop there! The inside of the tunnel is home to more than 3 million bats which are available for viewing if you think that you’re brave enough.
A park ranger described the bat’s flying formation as a tornado. Yes, you read that correctly- a tornado made of bats!
The bat-nado is a sight to behold and an excellent outing for history, wildlife and nature lovers. It’s also a great trail for beginners and families who want to show their kids the wonders of hiking in San Antonio.
Friedrich Wilderness Park
Length: 1.7 miles
Entry Fee: Free
Bring your binoculars and hiking shoes to Friedrich Wilderness Park for an exhilarating, outdoor experience for all levels of hikers! It leads you through trials of delicate orchids and rocky canyons with spectacular views for everyone to enjoy.
The park has rather strict hiking rules with good reason! The Friedrich Wilderness Park is one of the only San Antonio hiking trails that is home to 2 species of endangered birds including the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo.
So, naturally, wildlife protection is a must-have in this area to protect the endangered birds’ habitat.
If you are looking for a casual smokers’ stroll or a place to set up a campfire, The Friedrich Wilderness Park probably isn’t the best way to go, but it is the perfect spot for birdwatchers who want to experience that extra essence of unique wildlife during their hike.
Hiking in San Antonio doesn’t get more exotic than this!
Hillview Nature Trail Loop
Length: 3 miles
Entry fee: Free
Don’t pack away your binoculars just yet! The Hillview Nature Trail Loop is another excellent trail for birdwatchers who are moderately experienced in exploring the outdoors.
If the tantalizing wildflowers aren’t a good enough reason to explore these stunning San Antonio Hiking trails, the birds eye view of the treetops will, without a doubt, guarantee an unforgettable hiking experience.
For those who like to turn their expeditions into fun-filled family outings, the Hillview Nature Trail Loop offers a great educational experience along with a playground for your kids to enjoy. This ultimate, fun-filled, outdoor experience is bound to make your family fall in love with hiking in San Antonio.
As an added bonus, you can even bring your pets along to take part in the adventure as long as they’re kept on a leash. Birds, treetops and family fun- this San Antonio hiking trail is a full package deal!
Etiquette for Hiking in San Antonio:
- Do not litter: Littering is not only harmful to the environment, but it can also be extremely hazardous to wildlife.
- Keep Left-Pass Right: If you want to pass another hiker, you can pass on the left before moving back to the right side
- Consider other hikers: If you are in a group and on a narrow trail, walk in a single file line to avoid blocking the road for other hikers.
- Pets and Leashes: Its important to keep your pets on a leash during your hike. This is important for the safety of your pet, other hikers and wildlife preservation.
- Right of way: When hiking and biking pedestrians have the right of way. If you are on a bike and you encounter a pedestrian, stop at the edge of the road to allow the pedestrian to pass.
- Do not feed the animals: As much as we all want to feed the wildlife that we encounter on hiking trips, it can be hazardous to the animals and to people. According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ( Asphis), feeding wild animals can be harmful to their health and cause the animals to lose their natural ability to feed themselves. Take a look at the following link for more information on feeding wildlife on hiking trails.
- Take pictures only: Do not remove any plants or natural elements from the hiking trail. This can cause an imbalance in the trail’s ecosystem and lead to the destruction of the trail. Taking photos is a much better way to create lifelong memories of your hiking adventures without harming the environment.
Hiking Tips – Before you set off:
- Protect your Skin: Summers in San Antonio can bring about scorching heat. Severe sunburn can be detrimental to your health, not to mention being painful! To prevent damage to your health and skin, bring along some sunscreen on your expedition.
- Stay Hydrated: Dehydration is a hiker’s worst enemy and it can cause severe health complications. A lot of hikers, especially those who aren’t accustomed to hiking in direct sunlight, get carried away in the thrill and don’t realize that their hydration levels are dropping until it’s too late. For this reason, it’s strongly advised to bring some bottled water with you on your hike.
- Bring the right gear: Different hiking trails in San Antonio have different terrains. Others cross through multiple terrains from water to grasslands to rocks and hills. Make sure that you bring the right kind of hiking gear for the trail that you are walking on to prevent any complications on the road.
- Plan ahead: Be aware of the distance, traffic and entry fees of the trail that you are hiking on. If you have chosen one of the longer trails it may be a good idea to prepare some snacks for your pit stops. Some of the San Antonio hiking trails can become heavily trafficked. If you prefer a more secluded hike, it is advisable to plan your timing so that you can avoid the traffic.
- Have a blast: It goes without saying that hiking is all about the adventure. If hiking wasn’t fun why would we be doing it? So, put on your hiking boots, get that adrenaline pumping and get ready to have a blast!
Hiking in San Antonio is, without a doubt, the best way to keep in shape while having a blast and getting your daily dose of zen.
San Antonio hiking trails have a lot to offer for hikers of all experience levels and preferences. Whether you are looking for an educational experience, cultural immersion, secluded zen spots, casual strolling or wildlife exposure, San Antonio’s got it all!
So get your gear, gather your family and friends and create unforgettable memories while hiking in San Antonio. Also, don’t forget to check out the rest of our epic travel destinations for some mind-blowing activities to add to your bucket list.