Even as San Antonio continues to build out its greenway trail network, nearby suburban cities are extending pathways of their own to connect existing parks and opening up new green space to residents.
In Converse, a city of approximately 28,000 in northeastern Bexar County, crews have nearly completed a greenway trail that connects three local parks. Construction is now underway on a pedestrian crossing that would unite the two main trail segments. Once finished, the crossing will join together roughly 3 total paved trail miles.
Converse Greenway Trail
Offers: Walking, running, biking
Location: Access points at Northampton Park (9057 S. Seguin Road), Converse City Park (307 School St.) and Converse North Park (8200 Spring Town St.)
Trail miles: Approximately 3 miles paved, more than 1.5 miles of dirt trails at City Park.
Restrooms: Toilets and potable water at City and North parks.
On my visit during after-work hours last week, plenty of residents were using the parks and trails, in spite of looming thunderclouds. Compared to other suburban parks in Bexar County, I thought the spaces had more of a small-town feel — parents and siblings lined sports fields cheering on kids playing peewee football while anglers lazily tossed their lines into the lake at Converse North Park. If I lived a little closer, I would visit the parks often after work to go trail-running.
Two bodies of water are central features at City and North parks. The larger of the two is the lake at North Park, formed when federal and local agencies built the now-38-foot-tall Converse Dam across Salitrillo Creek in the 1960s. The San Antonio River Authority still operates the dam, one of 28 such flood control dams in Bexar County. Texas Parks and Wildlife stocks this lake regularly with catfish and bass.
The other pond is part of Converse City Park, land the City of Converse acquired in 1998. Some maps call it Featherlite Pond, likely named for the Featherlite Building Materials company nearby on Gibbs Sprawl Road. Other maps call it Miller Pond. Whatever the name, it features a fishing pier and a web of dirt trails that are worth checking out.
Around the pond’s southern half, the trails wind through brushy grassland and climb a set of large earth embankments. Despite the signs and barriers meant to keep out motorized vehicles, ATV riders and dirt bikers have clearly found a way in, carving winding paths through the trees and grass. In an area with fairly few hilltop vantage points, the high point of the trail offers a look down on the pond, with rooftops and trees that seem to extend all the way to the white tower of the Administration Building at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph to the northeast.
The paved trail system can be broken into three distinct areas: Northampton Park, City Park and North Park. I started my run at Northampton Park, where a 0.3-mile concrete path makes a quick loop through dense woods. From there, two parallel paths snake alongside a playground and some exercise equipment before consolidating and crossing over West Salitrillo Creek and passing the Converse City Park baseball fields.
Heading northwest, the trail then parallels a neighborhood fence, climbing a hill where, from the top, I could look down on the football fields packed with young teams practicing. The trail then descends and passes by the most elaborate set of outdoor exercise equipment I’ve ever seen.
The “fitness court” at Converse City Park looks like a miniature American Ninja Warrior course but is actually just a set of bars, gymnastics rings and platforms to help users with bodyweight exercises. If I had more time on my visit, I would have lingered to learn the moves.
The paved portion of the trail then climbs another hill, crossing next to Featherlite/Miller/City Park pond before turning north. It extends another third of a mile through a sparse mesquite patch, ending at Gibbs Sprawl Road.
Construction crews are working on the Gibbs Sprawl pedestrian crossing. Until that crossing is complete, people are using a set of concrete pillars built to slow water in the creek as stepping stones to get off of the trail and onto the road. Once the crossing is complete, the trail will fully connect Northampton, City and North parks.
I continued my journey on the north side of Gibbs Sprawl Road, following the concrete trail as it wrapped around the San Antonio River Authority dam. From there, the trail connects to an exactly 1-mile asphalt loop that surrounds the sports fields at North Park. The lakeside fishing areas at North Park seem popular, and I noticed one visitor slipping his fishing kayak into the water.
Eventually, Converse officials plan to extend the trail another 1.2 miles north as far as Miller Road, along with a short segment that connects Northampton Park to Judson High School along South Seguin Road. That would bring the total paved mileage to more than 4 miles.
While these parks might not be the most naturally scenic in greater San Antonio, the number of trail miles, the nearby sports fields and the access to water bodies mean they have more to offer than most parks. Hopefully, the new trails will also allow nearby residents to explore a park in their area they might not have visited before.