The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Parks surrounding campus offer free events, recreation

The Medina River Natural Area's high-elevated trails have a "South Texas brush land" scenery, says Gail Gallegos, nature preserve officer for San Antonio Natural Areas. Photo by Rebecca Salinas
The Medina River Natural Area’s high-elevated trails have a “South Texas brush land” scenery, says Gail Gallegos, nature preserve officer for San Antonio Natural Areas. Photo by Rebecca Salinas

By Rebecca Salinas

Soon enough, crisp fall winds will sweep through the south, relieving San Antonians from the unpleasant summer heat.

Students and employees at this university, or anyone living in the South Side, can take advantage of the refreshing weather at local parks free of charge.

Mission Reach

Mission Reach, an eight-mile pathway of the San Antonio River, runs parallel with the historic Missions attracts visitors from all over the city as well as tourists.

Yviand Serbones, community relations coordinator for the San Antonio River Authority, said an increasing number of visitors utilize the walking trail along the river, as well as kayak and stand-up paddling in the river.

“We know that section is definitely used more by locals,” she said. “We have seen increase in organized events, with that we’ve seen groups, such as students, participate in those.”

For example, Serbones said SARA and the San Antonio River Foundation will host the first River Arts Fest from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Confluence Park along Mission Reach.

The festival will showcase artwork made from recycled or reused material to “inspire people not only to enjoy art but to recycle,” she said. Other features include a recycled fashion show, live music, food trucks and live demonstrations.

Mission Reach is open from dawn to dusk, and Serbones said the City of San Antonio recently approved stand-up paddling, a mix of surfing and paddling, in the area.

“It’s becoming a trend. We went ahead and gave that as an option for folks interested,” she said of the latest rage in recreational water sports. “We definitely want to find ways to continue to get the public to remain involved and engaged in that area.”

SARA’s website provides a list of approved vendors for stand-up paddling and kayaking.

Those looking to venture outside Loop 410 can look to the Medina River Natural Area.

Medina River Natural Area

The park, located at 15890 Highway 16 S., allows hiking, biking, dog walking, fishing, birding, paddling and kayaking along Medina River.

Gail Gallegos, nature preserve officer for San Antonio Natural Areas, said fishing is the popular attraction at the park.

“A lot of local people like to go fishing there,” she said. “I think they were fishing there even before it was a park.”

Although entry to the park is free, a fishing license from Texas Parks and Wildlife is required to fish in the river for those over the age of 18.

Gallegos said the park is unique because it offers two settings on its 511 acres. The trails range in accessibility from paved to dirt, and follow either the river or an upland area.

“One of the coolest things is that on the high area of the trail, it very much looks like South Texas brush land. When you get down (near the river), you get an entirely new group of plants,” she said. “It’s two parks in one.”

She said she sees many young adults utilize the trail because the variety of trails make for a “nice, long run.”

The park is open from dusk to dawn, and more information can be found on its website.

Recreational Lakes

Those looking for even more adventure can visit two recreational lakes located southeast of the city.

CPS Energy’s Braunig, 17500 Donop Road, and Calaveras, 12991 Bernhardt Road, lakes offer camping, fishing and boating.

Daily admission fees cost $6 for adults, $4 for youth and senior citizens, and free for children under the age of 5. To launch a boat, the fee costs $5. Camping costs $6 per car load for a dispersed campsite and $13 per car load for a reserved site, in addition to the admission fees.

On the same day, the admission fee includes access to interchangable lakes. For example, admission purchased at Calaveras Lake can be used to enter Braunig Lake on the same day for no additional cost.

Both parks are open from 6 a.m.-8 p.m., but hours will change Tuesday to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the remainder of the year.

More information can be found on the CPS Energy website.

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas
Rebecca Salinas is a Comunidad/Cultura Editor for The Mesquite. Rebecca attended San Antonio College, where she received her A.A. in Journalism. At SAC, she served as Managing Editor and Editor at The Ranger, the award winning newspaper founded in 1926. Rebecca graduated from Somerset High School in Somerset in 2010, where she took journalism courses. She has a passion for rural issues, such as Eagle Ford Shale, which she hopes to report on after graduation.

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