By the end of August, hikers and cyclists will be able to travel on the Leon Creek portion of the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail system all the way to The Rim shopping center.
“Ultimately, we’re going to extend that farther to the north to tie in with Eisenhower Park and connect it to the Salado Creek Greenway,” said Brandon Ross, the Parks and Recreation Department special projects manager for the Linear Creekway Parks Program.
The 2.05-mile extension is a part of the Leon Creek Greenway to Salado Creek Greenway Connection. Starting at Valero Park Trailhead, 5902 N. Loop 1604 West, it snakes into The Rim under the Interstate 10 West overpass.
Another project component, the Salado Creek segment at Huebner Road, gets linked to Loop 1604.
“The Salado Greenway Trail is officially open for use. It’s a beautiful day to go check out this great addition,” said District 9 Councilman John Courage in a social-media post.
Cyclist Cristina Solorzano said she’s happy there’s a safer way to traverse the far North Side and reach The Rim.
“To have that trailhead and that greenway connecting to the mall is pretty sweet,” Solorzano said.
She once lived near Schnabel Park and used the greenway to commute by bike to a former job in Huebner Oaks shopping center. Now, she’s a community educator with Ghisallo Cycling Initiative, a nonprofit youth-bicycling program in Austin, which recently took root in San Antonio. Its mission is to help school-aged children safely and expertly integrate cycling into their daily lives.
“I’m excited to see more families get on their bikes and ride down that trail to something interesting,” Solorzano said.
City Council OK’d the extension project in November 2017. Curran Contracting Co. was awarded the bid with a budget of $5.1 million for both greenways, funded by sales taxes included in the Fiscal Year 2018 capital budget.
“The Leon Creek Greenway is an exciting addition to our city and we are thrilled to have a stop here at The Rim,” said Chris Oviatt, general property manager. “We are excited to work with the Parks and Recreation team at the city of San Antonio to plan events and activities around this wonderful new amenity.”
Construction started in 2018 on Leon Creek. Only signage and a few minor details need addressing before an official opening.
The Peak Greenway Trail System — named after the former mayor — is about 65 miles long. With the addition of Leon Creek’s 2.05 miles and Salado Creek’s 1.8 miles, it will total 69 miles.
“The connectivity is the biggest thing. Longer rides off of busy roads,” said Sutton Ogden, a USAA business analyst.
Ogden and his wife, Savannah, recently moved nearby and use the trail for running, cycling and walking their dog.
The Leon Creek Greenway portion of the network includes two trailheads with parking areas, rest nodes along the way, signage, several drainage culverts, retaining walls and minor amenities.
Hines, owner of The Rim, granted the city a perpetual easement on a portion of 73 acres near the creek to facilitate the trail extension and trailhead at 17612 Vance Jackson Road, behind DSW.
A second trailhead is at 17008 I-10 West near the Marquis at The Rim apartments.
University of Texas at San Antonio graduate student Brandon Stark found out about the extension from a fellow jogger on the greenway.
“It gives people an alternative to get to places other than driving, which is good for the environment and the health of people,” Stark said. “More people on the trail means less traffic, pollution and promotes a healthier lifestyle. It’s a win-win.”
Trail perks include a repair station, drinking fountains and bike racks.
The new path will be made out of concrete and is 12 feet wide, instead of 10, to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
“There’s just a lot of concentrated use. It’s better that we make the trail a little bit wider,” Ross said.
He added the Valero Park Trailhead is one of the most popular ways to join the Leon Creek addendum, and the two new entry points should make access easier.
Ross said he foresees Salado and Leon Creek greenways meeting at Eisenhower Park in the next two years.
When it opens, greenway hours will be from dawn until dusk daily.
Meanwhile, keep a lookout for the Take to the Trails campaign rolling out soon from Parks and Recreation.
“We’re basically urging people to stay right, and to pass on the left, to be courteous, for people to pick up after their dogs, to carry water and sunscreen, and things like that to keep themselves safe while they use the trails,” Ross said. “Watch out for others.