San Antonio Missions National Historical Park | HIKING AND BIKING

Bikers on the San Antonio River Walk

Bikers on the San Antonio River Walk

While there are no hiking or biking trails at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park other than a short boardwalk trail at Mission San Juan Capistrano, there is a paved, multi-use path called the San Antonio River Walk that connects all of the missions together, including the Alamo on the north end. This path is open to hikers, bikers, and skaters. It is not owned by the National Park Service, but since it is a great way to get exercise and see the missions within the park, it is reviewed here on National Park Planner.

From the Alamo in the north to Mission Espada in the south, the River Walk is about 10 miles long. However, the distance between the missions that are part of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park—Mission Concepción in the north and Espada in the south—is 7.5 miles. The trail does not pass directly in front of any of the missions other than Espada, the trail’s southern terminus, so you’ll have some extra mileage traveling on connector trails and lightly-used city streets to get to the missions. Overall, plan to travel approximately 10 miles, one way. Thus, you will need a bike if you plan to see all four missions in a day, especially if you do not have a ride at one end. It took me from 9 AM to 7 PM, though I tend to be a little more thorough during my visits due to the need to write about each mission. And this did not include a stop at the Alamo.

I will say that the San Antonio River Walk is the best paved hiker / biker trail that I have ever been on due to the scenery and the number of interesting sites along the way. In addition to getting you to the missions, the trail passes picnic tables, hand-paddled watercraft launches, fishing spots, benches, wayside exhibits, city parks, and sections of the historical mission canals used to irrigate the farmland, all the while following fairly closely to the San Antonio River.

With that said, unless you are athletic and are really into biking, you might want to think twice before setting out on an all-day journey, or break up the trip into multiple days. The trail itself is easy to hike or bike, but you’ll be on hot pavement and exposed to the sun the entire time, not to mention that the distance traveled could be up to 20 miles. And then there are the visits to the missions themselves, which involves walking around the grounds, again exposed to the sun for most of the time. It is a lot of work. And it is not for little kids.

For those without a bike, standard bikes and e-bikes are available to rent at each of the four missions at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. These auto-serve rental stations are not run by the National Park Service but by an independent bike rental company. The rental stations are all located near the parking lots. There are also a few rental stations along the San Antonio River Walk and at the city parks along the route.

Bike rental station at Mission San Jose, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Bike rental station at Mission San José, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

As mentioned, the San Antonio River Walk does not run right in front of each mission, so you’ll need to make some detours from the trail to get to them. In most cases, signs along the path point out the exits that lead to the missions. All of these are paved as well. In some cases you must travel a short distance on city streets. On the following web pages are reviews of the River Walk by segments, complete with instructions on how to get to the missions and information about the attractions along the way. The reviews start at the northern end of the park at Mission Concepción and detail the journey south to Mission Espada. They do not include a trip to the Alamo.

Mission Concepción to Mission San José

Mission San José to Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano to Mission Espada

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Last updated on June 15, 2022
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