Take a Hike

Our 5 favorite dog-friendly hikes around San Antonio

Our 5 favorite dog-friendly hikes around San Antonio

Phil Hardberger Park dogs
Your dog will love these hikes too. Photo by Lauramay LaChance

San Antonio is stepping up its game when it comes to being dog friendly. Dog parks and dog-friendly eateries are popping up all over town, and there are even dog-centered events like Bark in the Park. But dogs, like people, need adventure, exercise, and time to run around, and the whole fenced-in area with a bunch of dogs and humans standing there doesn’t always cut it.

While it can be difficult to get away and explore during the week, there are actually plenty of dog-friendly hikes within the city limits and a few just outside. Here is a list of our favorite hiking spots and a few tips we’ve learned about them along the way.

Phil Hardberger Park
North San Antonio
Entrance fee: Free
Difficulty: Easy
From dairy farm to urban wilderness area, Hardberger Park spans across 311 acres in Northwest San Antonio with some of its trees dating back to the Battle of the Alamo. Tucked between NW Military Highway and Blanco Road, the park is currently divided by Wurzbach Parkway, but there are future plans to add a bridge to connect the sides.

What to know before you go: The NW Military trails (west side) are usually less crowded than the Blanco Road trails (east side). On the west side you have about 3 miles of trails to hike (with the option to add miles by looping trails) with terrain that ranges from natural to crushed rock and packed soil. You’ll find elevation changes on the Savanna Loop Trail (1.78 miles) and a significant amount of shade (important for hot Texas days). Most of the trails on the east side are crushed rock and total about 2 miles but the Howard W. Peak Greenway (52.6 miles of connected trails throughout San Antonio) runs through this side

Why your dog will love it: If you’ve wanted to try trail running with your dog this is the perfect place for it. The Savanna Loop trail is considerably shaded, the natural surface trails make it easier on your knees and your dog’s pads, and there’s a doggy water fountain right next to the parking lot. And because there are so few people on the Savanna Loop, you’ll have fewer distractions for your dog. 

Watch out for: With the natural terrain on many of the trails, this park gets extremely muddy after it rains. Consider waiting a day or two after a rainstorm to hike it. 

Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area
Location: Boerne
Entrance fee: Free
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Just 10 minutes from downtown Boerne, this is an off-the-beaten-path kind of place where you really go back to the basics. You won’t find paved trails or water fountains like you have at most of the other parks but that adds to its charm. The trail terrain changes from grassy fields to classic Hill Country and has about 1,700 feet of riverside access.

Why your dog will love it: KCNA runs along the Guadalupe River and yes, you and your dog are actually allowed to swim in the river (important for our hot summers). And being in such a remote setting your dog will also love the smells we typically don’t get in San Antonio like jack rabbits, wild hogs, and plenty of deer along the miles of trails.

What to know before you go: Pack your own drinking water, as you won’t find any potable water at the park. Also, the trails are not marked with names or colors; you simply follow arrows (sort of like the choose-your-own-adventure books from elementary school). This can seem intimidating at first but it’s really easy to get your bearings once you’re there.

Watch out for: As with any hiking trail, always be mindful that you are a visitor. Don’t let your dogs off leash on the trails as dangerous creatures or over-protective moms may be close by.

Government Canyon State Natural Area
Location: Far Northwest San Antonio
Entrance fee: $6 per adult
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Technically Government Canyon is a natural area and not a park so their primary mission is to protect and preserve the area. That means the trails are likely to be closed after it rains to conserve the natural paths, pets are only allowed on designated trails in the frontcountry as a way to preserve the ecosystem in the backcountry, and the area is closed to the public Tuesday-Thursday when scientists and others are doing research there.

Why your dog will love it: While dogs are only allowed on the frontcountry trails, that still gives you about 6.9 miles to hike. Lyttle’s Loop (4.74 miles) zip-zags through tall grassy areas, shaded areas, and fields of flowers, and it tends to have fewer people on it (possibly due to the longer distance). This trail will certainly be a great workout for you and your dog.

What to know before you go: You’ll find shade under large trees and a few sections on Lyttle’s Loop but the majority of the frontcountry trails are not shaded. The trails open at 7 am and it’s best to get there early to avoid the midday heat. Also, bring your own drinking water for you and your dog.

Watch out for: All of the frontcountry trails are multiuse so there’s a chance you might come across a biker, a runner or even someone on their horse.

Medina River Natural Area
Location: South San Antonio
Entrance fee: Free
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Most of the trails in San Antonio are in the northwest part of town, but the Medina River Natural Area is the first natural area to be located in the south side. The park’s namesake, the Medina River, actually runs through the park. Open every day from dusk to dawn this 500-acre area has over 6 miles of trails to hike.

Why your dog will love it: Another undiscovered hiking spot that’s never packed (not even on the weekends) and only 15 miles south of downtown makes it perfect for a midweek hike for those living south of downtown. You can hike the paved or natural trails, and the trails are all well-marked, making it easy for a quick hike without worrying about getting lost. While it’s much cooler (temperature wise) in the winter, in the spring and summer you’ll find an abundant amount of wildlife and lush vegetation.

What to know before you go: Pack your own water and keep your dog on leash as there are lots of wild hogs that live in the area.

Watch out for: The natural trails and the trails along the river are lined with canopy trees that offer a cool and shaded path but the Greenway Trails are open and exposed to the sun. Choose wisely on hot days.

Eisenhower Park
Location: Far North San Antonio
Entrance fee: Free
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Located right before the entrance of Camp Bullis, Eisenhower Park is a popular park for pooches, especially on the weekends. You have a little more than 6 miles of trails to explore across the 320-acre park with an elevation climb of 215 feet if you head to the observation tower.

Why your dog will love it: Dogs love an adventurous hike that allows them to climb up tree-made stairs, jump over rocks, and run down hills, and that’s what Eisenhower Park offers. The Hillview Natural Trail is the only loop trail and totals about 3 miles and offers a significant amount of shade. Also, this place is also filled with other dogs so it’s a great way for your dog to socialize. 

What to know before you go: If there’s any type of moisture in the air, the paved trails (especially the steep ones on Cedar Flatts) can get slippery. Wear sturdy shoes or opt for the natural trails. You’ll also need to pack water for this hike, as there’s none available on the grounds.

Watch out for: As with any trail in South Texas, there’s a chance you might run into a rattlesnake. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t let your dog off the trail.