Sure, you know the River Walk, and may have explored the Mission Reach that strikes south from the Blue Star Complex towards the green land surrounding the acequia of Mission Espada. But if you want to really escape turista town, take a hike on one of the creek trails. Now known as the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail System, there are currently 41 miles of trails open to the public, running along Leon Creek, Salado Creek, and the Medina River. Initiated by former Mayor Peak when he was a councilman in the 1990s, Peak envisioned a "ring" of walking and bike trails in the flood zones along city-owned creeks. The trails are paved with concrete, and wide enough for bikes to zoom past walkers with space to share — and yes, dogs are welcome.
Coursing past trees, wild grasses, and thickets of shrub, you might come upon the remains of an old quarry, or mounds covering ancient building sites. Occasionally a vista opens up, offering spectacular views near sunset, when the dawn-to-dusk trail system officially closes. Leon Creek has several pathways, ranging from a 1.5 mile trail at Pearsall Park, to the longest — 13.5 miles running from Loop 1604 to Ingram Road near UTSA. The Salado Creek paths range from just over a mile to four miles, while Medina River trail on the Southside covers seven miles, with switchbacks and gentle inclines through groves of pecan trees.
Many of the trailheads are reachable by VIA, and often have parking spaces and water available. Maps and detailed information about the trail system is available at San Antonio Parks and Recreation website, sanantonio.gov/parksandrec — Scott Andrews