Time for another long run this weekend, although not quite as long as the last one. I had to do a 10 mile run today and I decided to head down my favorite route in the city: The San Antonio Riverwalk.
The San Antonio River actually starts near Incarnate Word University where a series of springs create the headwaters. It passes through Breckenridge park and then heads towards downtown and ultimately south towards the ocean. Nearly everyone is familiar with the Downtown part of the Riverwalk, with the hotels, restaurants, bars and, of course, the river barges. Not as many are aware that there are two other parts: the Museum Reach to the north of Downtown and the Mission Reach, extending south. Overall, the Riverwalk is nearly 15 miles long with tons to see and do along the way.
My favored route is to start the Pearl Brewery near US Hwy 281 and Grayson Street and head south toward the missions. I usually run early on Sunday so I park in the lot nearest to La Gloria, but there is a large parking garage nearby. The Riverwalk runs behind La Gloria and the Hotel Emma. Head down the river and turn left. This portion of the Riverwalk is called the Museum Reach because of the concentrations of Museums along its course. To the north, the river winds past the Witte Museum, the Zoo before passing the Pearl. Shortly south of the Pearl it passes the San Antonio Museum of Art, housed in the repurposed Historic Lone Star Brewery. As you head South, you'll see a variety of art installations, many in residence under the road bridges you'll run under. About a mile to the south of the Pearl, you'll encounter the Riverwalk locks -- used to lift the river barges up about 15 feet from the Downtown portion of the Riverwalk to the Museum Reach.
The Museum Reach, adjacent to the Pearl Brewery Complex
After passing the locks, you enter the Downtown Reach of the Riverwalk. This is the historic part of the riverwalk and certainly looks more mature, with larger, stately trees. As the buildings creep closer to the river, you can note that the architecture of the Riverwalk also looks a little less modern. Also, you'll note that the placards describing the historical significance pick up in frequency passing through this area. As you approach the bend in the river at the north flood control gate, you'll head up to street level to cross over and continue going straight south. Repeat the up and over on the south flood control gate and keep heading south. As you exit the downtown area, you'll notice the river widens and large cyprus trees predominate on the banks. Welcome to the King William District. So named by the german immigrants who settled this area and named it after Kaiser Wilhelm. A couple flood control dams interrupt the waterway, but thank to the City, they are well integrated into the surroundings. This is probably the most peaceful, beautiful portion of the Riverwalk. Feel free to hop up onto the streets of the King William District and explore the streets dotted with old mansions and massive live oaks. As you head run along the river, you'll encounter the old foundations of the North Mill, established by Mr. C.H. Guenther and later the South Mill. Off on the right side of the Riverwalk you can see the towering Pioneer Mill, established by C.H. Guenther and still a large producer of flour products today. Proceeding further, the path twists and ends up near Roosevelt High School and the lower discharge for the San Antonio Flood Control Tunnel.
As you proceed south, you now enter the Mission Reach, named for the three, UNESCO World Heritage Site old Spanish Missions that line the river. The river channel is quite a bit wider and the area around far less developed. During the cooler months, this is a beautiful route with birds, flowers and other wildlife. However, I do not recommend Mission Reach in the summer as there is no shade and the heat is brutal. Just after passing underneath I-10, I turned around and headed back north to my car.
The Riverwalk is an eminently run-able, beautiful route -- unique in the United States. It bores straight along over 300 years of history and is not to be missed. Navigating is simple -- there are signs marking the route and maps along the way. Have you run the Riverwalk? What do you think? Leave your comments below!