Sometimes, visiting a park more than once is the only way to discover everything it has to offer. This is the case with Walker Ranch Park, located off of West Avenue (and underneath the flight path of San Antonio International Airport). At first glance it appears to be a small park, primarily frequented by parents and young children who enjoy the playground and pavilion. But a closer look reveals this park’s rich history, its winding greenway trails, and a fascinating and crevice-filled creek bed to explore.
Delaney, Waylon, and I visited this park a few times over the years but we’d always stuck to the playground and to walking across the bridge that stretches over the Salado Creek watershed and leads to some soccer fields.
On our first visit this year, we kept to those previous Walker Ranch Park habits but we also climbed trees; played in the woods, inventing characters, games, and stories; made slow-mo videos of the kids jumping out of trees (one of their new favorite pastimes); and read the educational signs along the trailhead.
We also used my phone to scan the QR codes that Walker Ranch Park provides that point to websites with details and photographs of the plants and other vegetation growing there.
I’d always wanted to explore the smooth, concrete pathway that circles around the back of the park but my kids usually want to stay close to the playground. Determined to find out where that pathway led and what it looked like back there, I enticed my kids and my niece to take a repeat visit, asking them to skip the playground and, instead, discover the park from a different viewpoint on their bikes and scooters. Incredibly, they agreed.
As they grow older and out of their love for playgrounds, I don’t want my children to lose their passion for parks. One of my goals this year is to find ways to keep older kids, tweens, and teens excited about park visits.
What we found when we hit the path were miles of the shady, paved trails of the Salado Creek Greenway which run alongside the Salado Creekbed, connecting Walker Ranch Park to Phil Hardberger Park.
Perfect for biking, walking, and running, the greenway is in excellent condition and prevalent shade makes it a great place to exercise, even during the hot summer months.
The kids loved hopping off their wheels to explore the rocky creek bed.
Walker Ranch Park’s history is detailed on the San Antonio Parks and Recreation website but here are a few cool facts:
- This park is an archaeologically significant site people have been gathering around for thousands of years due to abundant resources including stone which was used for early building materials, two water sources (Panther Springs and Salado Creek), and the animals and vegetation found there.
- The area is believed to have been a ranch at one time that helped supply the Alamo in its early days.
- The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation made a donation in 1999 for the playground and high school students from Churchill High School put it together.
One thing for parents (and squeamish types) to know before you go: the only nearby restrooms are port-a-potties in the parking lot. But, if you can get past that (and, because this park is so awesome, I can with a little planning ahead), Walker Ranch Park has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Check out all of the San Antonio parks we’ve visited this year as part of our #SA2020Resolutions.
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