Austin, Travel

Austin Day Trip: San Antonio Missions Hike & Bike Trail

San Antonio's Missions Hike & Bike Trail along the San Antonio River is probably one of the best trails I've ever been on. It is a beautifully paved & groomed path that is suitable for all ages and abilities. This 16-mile roundtrip trail takes you to four of San Antonio's missions, and you can continue on to the Alamo if you'd like. You walk next to countless wildflowers, old ruins and happy people on the trail, and the missions are just incredible! If you've never done the trail, do it! It's truly a Texas gem.


I was flipping through the latest issue of Texas Monthly, the Newcomer’s Guide, and was surprised to learn of the San Antonio Missions Hike & Bike Trail. This 16-mile roundtrip trail runs alongside the San Antonio River and stops at four of San Antonio’s famous missions: Mission Espada, Mission San Juan, Mission San Jose and Mission Concepcion.

How had I not heard of this trail before?

As an avid walker- we have our own walking group called The Christopher Walkings- I couldn’t believe I had not known of this close-by trail. I later found out that I had not heard of this trail because its completed development is relatively new, or at least not widely publicized in Austin (San Antonio is only 80 miles away, yet Austin and San Antonio are VERY separate cities). I asked my boyfriend if he was game for the journey, and the next day we headed down to ol’ San Antone to check out the path.

First of all, let me just say it’s one of the most beautiful and well-groomed hike and bike trails I’ve ever seen. The trail is wide, easy to use and accessible to all abilities. There is enough space for walkers AND bikers, and there are plentiful trash cans, drinking fountains and signage. One of the best features is that the bike rental system, B-Cycle, is available at all of the missions.

B Cycles San Antonio

Second, how cool is it that we can walk this beautiful path to each of the historic missions? Instead of driving from location to location- which you can do and which I recommend if you are unable to walk several miles- we have the pleasure of striding through beautiful Texas countryside, imagining what the area looked like for natives and settlers hundreds of years ago.

A stop on the San Antonio Missions Hike & Bike Trail. #MissionSanJose #Texashistory #weekendwalk

As we discovered, this trail is probably best traversed during the spring, fall and winter months- unless you love standing out in the God forsaken summer sun. The path is not shaded, and I imagine that all the beautiful wildflowers and tall grass will be dead and shriveled sadness very soon, and the water in the San Antonio River will be as robust as your morning pee.

The only downside to the trail was that all the park staff we encountered appeared to hate life. One patrol officer got reamed out by a father who shouted, “Stop yelling at my kids! You’re creeping them out!” and when we politely asked another staffer if our car would get locked in at the mission after 5PM, he said, with a cold, dead stare, “There are no gates.” A third park staffer giving a tour sounded like he was doing his best Ben Stein impression.

If you love nature and Texas history, this trail is a must. It’s a quick 70-minute drive from Austin and offers a full day of beauty and fun.

Recommendation: Head over to the El Mercado after your hike and grab a tamarindo margarita and dinner over at Mi Tierra.

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  • Reply Morgan A. April 7, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Oooh this looks fun! We are new to Texas (Houston area) and we want to get out that way soon!

  • Reply grace b April 19, 2015 at 1:22 am

    I read about this is Texas Monthly too! I am so psyched to go check it out before it gets uber hot. I also felt the same way the first time I hiked Balcones Canyonlands a few weeks ago — how had I not done this before!?! I’m trying to enjoy SA more so thanks for the encouragement!

  • Reply aneelee April 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Hey there,

    We’ve been wanting to do a missions trip to San Antonio for quite some time and the prospect of hiking/biking at least part of it seems really exciting. How long did it take you to do the entire trail and what was your longest hike between missions? Would be doing it with a couple of 11yos so would want to make sure that they wouldn’t wither away in between.

  • Reply 24 new World Heritage Sites - and the list gets longer! | Globe Called Home August 1, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    […] Coahuilteca decorative styles. Blogging Babies and the Bayou writes about Mission Concepción, and Hipstercrite recommends checking all of the missions out via a hike & bike trail. [Photo: Bill […]

  • Reply Diana April 19, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    The Missions are beautiful! I went there a few years ago and that was my absolute favorite thing about SA – and now I tell everyone that they must check them out! Wish I would’ve known about the bike trails. Next time!

  • Reply David Morin August 31, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I own the company Mission Kayak which offers kayaking trips on the Mission Reach stretch in San Antonio! We also recently opened up a bike tour company, called Mission Bike Tour! ( Our tour guide is waaaay better than some of the staff members you ran into.

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