Olmos Creek Trail

The shortest trail in the Howard Peak Greenway Trail system is the one nearest my house. I can walk there, but it’s even faster to ride. Olmos Creek drains the Olmos Basin floodplain, joining the headwaters of the San Antonio River on the property of the University of the Incarnate Word. Olmos Dam cuts across the creek and protects downtown from flooding: without it, the River Walk could not exist. As a child in the 1970s, I remember driving on top of the dam, but today, the road runs in front of it.

As an adult, I have seen floodwaters collect behind the dam in the major floods of 1998 and 2002, when it rained 15 and 22 inches, respectively. Today the downtown area of San Antonio is well-protected against flooding, thanks to a massive tunnel that flows underneath it for 3 miles.

There’s not a lot to see on this trail, although the area does have an interesting history. (hot air balloons? city dump squatters? Girl Scout Camps?) The city park at the trailhead has been the site of several of our family birthday parties over the decades. The southern portion connects to a large, busy sports park, where hundreds of people gather weekly to play soccer, football, rugby and even polo. On the north end, the trail ends at a major shopping center developed from the site of an old cement quarry. The four pictures below were taken within several yards of each other, yet they look vastly different.

During the coronavirus quarantine of 2020, we took a walk on the trail and were pleasantly surprised to see that someone had painted murals of masks on the nearby highway underpass. Because this area is a floodplain, the highway is elevated for several miles, but during major floods the water has covered portions of it. The art has since been painted over, which was a little disappointing.

Masked artist?

Near this paved trail is a series of unpaved trails. Known as the Alamo Heights Nature Trails, the Hondondo Creek Trails, and the Jack Judson Trails (depending on who you talk to), some of the trails lead right behind Olmos Dam (if you go, look for the sign pointing to Sisters’ Trail). Some unknown artists have made it their canvas.

Wheeled vehicles are not allowed on these trails. However, so many young cyclists were using it for mountain biking and stunts that an official (temporary) bike park was opened in Alamo Heights next to the dog park. It’s not Rosie’s scene, but she’s glad it’s available for others.

3 Comments

  1. Sweet write up and photos. Was driving by Olmos Dam on 281 the other day heading back from a job in South San Antonio and spied a trail that looks like it came out of the woods behind the dam on the far side from the hwy. I’d love to try mountain biking back in there but wasn’t sure of how far the Olmos trail went back up in there. I’ve lived in San Antonio all of my life but have only been to Olmos Park one time to visit the polo fields some time ago. I love the Peak system and hope eventually there is a way for everything to connect. I myself live off the Salado Greenway North and frequently ride that area. I just picked up a bike rack so I can hopefully visit more remote locations I normally find difficult to ride to.

    Anyways, I enjoy your photos and posts. I stumbled on your Instagram (and I don’t even get on social that much) and liked Rosie so that’s how I came here. Keep them coming 🙂🚵‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve walked those trails and seen a mountain biker or two. You can access them by parking at the lot across from the sports fields and then going under the highway (away from the fields).

      Liked by 1 person

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