The Riverwalk Mission Reach trail extends south from the downtown portion of the Riverwalk. This 8 mile extension was added to the downtown segment of the Riverwalk starting in 1993. The trail was made to be part conservation, and part recreation.
The trail is paved and smooth. It is an easy walk and you will normally see quite a few people walking, running, or biking.
There are many ways to access the Mission Reach. I like to start from the South near Mission Espada, the first mission in Texas, founded way back in 1690! The Mission Reach Trailhead and parking area is shown below:
From the trailhead, there is a short trail down to the Riverwalk trail. This section of the Riverwalk is exposed to the sun, meandering along the San Antonio river. Mornings on the trail can be cool and solitary. This section probably gets about a third the traffic as the northern Museum Reach. It is common to see ducks and other waterfowl as you run, and there are multiple crossings that let you walk along either side of the river.
You can basically run as far as you want on the mostly flat trail, with plenty of crossings and side trails to add variety.
From Espada, you can either stay on the West side of the river, or take the Camino Coahuilteca road over to the Acequia Trail. This trail follow historical irrigation ditches, and has a few gravel sections. It also offers a bit more shade than the Mission Reach itself.
If you stay on the Mission Reach and head about a mile North, there is a side trail to the left that goes to the Espada Aqueduct. Not super exciting, but I think it is a cool historical site.
At just under 3 miles from the trailhead, the trail heads inland. You’ll get a little shade as you cross over a strange swinging wooden bridge, then a short jaunt up Padre Drive, then the trail resumes and you head back to the river.
At 4 miles in, you’ll be at Padre Park, where you will occasionally see kayakers and rafts in the river.
The trail continues, with multiple road underpasses and options to cross the river.
If you choose to go on a long run, it is a bit over 7 miles (one way) from the trailhead to Mission Concepcion. You can also park closer to Mission Conception at Confluence Park.
- Bring plenty of water
- There are many trailheads along the Mission Reach, Espada is just one
- Take some warmup or cooldown time and explore the ruins at Mission Espada
- This part of the River Walk is exposed and can get very hot
- Nice views of the river, wetlands, and birds
- Take some of the side trails. This is a great area to explore.