A major new spur of the Leon Creek Greenway trail opens this month, connecting multiple neighborhoods in northwest San Antonio inside Loop 1604.
The French Creek trail is a 1.3-mile concrete path along a typically dry tributary stream of Leon Creek, one of the two major spines of San Antonio’s greenway network. The French Creek route’s completion improves greenway trail access for multiple subdivisions in the Mainland Drive area between the Leon Creek Greenway and Nani Falcone Community Park.
The trail also for the first time unlocks easy access to French Creek Park, a roughly 30-acre patch of woods between two neighborhoods off of Mainland Drive. Prior to the connection, the park had only a short concrete path that ended in a loop.
I accessed the trail by parking at Ingram Transit Center and riding north 4 miles along the Leon Creek Greenway. The trail intersection is just north of the Leon Creek trail’s intersection with the gravel thoroughfare Ebert Road.
Until late last week, San Antonio Parks and Recreation’s website said the new trail opens May 2022, but a recent update now mentions a June 2022 opening. On my visits to the trail last week, someone had moved aside a temporary orange barrier blocking the completed concrete path. I reached out to a Parks representative on Friday about the date change but did not hear back before publication. During my visits last week, I saw people walking and riding all along the entire length of the trail.
French Creek trail
Offers: Walking, biking
Location: Connection with Leon Creek Greenway (29.50868, -98.63549) to Nani Falcone Community Park (8625 Mystic Park, San Antonio, TX 78254)
Trail miles: 1.3 miles of concrete path
Restrooms: Portable toilets and running water at Nani Falcone
From the junction with the Leon Creek trail, the French Creek spur veers west, passing along the fence line of a boat and RV storage yard, then turning north and crossing under Mainland Drive, where it connects to the tiny loop at French Creek Park.
I tried to find out why the area is named French Creek, but it’s going to involve cracking some history books. All I could find in my online search was this Texas State Historical Association reference stating the creek’s location, its 6-mile length, and that it “traverses flat to rolling terrain surfaced by shallow, stony soils that support mesquite and grasses.” That’s still true in the floodplain along the creek.
French Creek Park includes a short concrete loop but no fully formed single track paths. I could see some potential for hiking and mountain biking trails along the spur, at least in the forested areas.
North of the shady woods of French Creek Park, the trail travels through an open field of grass and wildflowers used as a flood control channel. It crosses under Guilbeau Road, then reaches a shade pavilion with benches built over a stormwater detention basin at Nani Falcone Park.
This basin, artificially constructed but covered with native plants, is a good example of a green infrastructure project. It’s large and sturdy enough to slow down floodwaters from large storms, but it also allows wetland plants to filter out contaminants carried by runoff from gentler rains. Finally, the seating area transforms the drainage space into an attractive amenity for visitors.
Nani Falcone includes a 0.8-mile concrete loop, along with sports fields, a dog park and a playground. It also has one of the best beginner-friendly disc golf courses in town, with a 21-hole course with both short and long tees. As signs throughout the park state, if you visit, watch for flying discs.
Overall, the French Creek trail is a perfect example of the connectivity we’re seeing emerge as the city knits together the formerly disjointed segments of the Howard W. Peak Greenway network. Another 10.3 miles of greenway along the Salado, Leon and Westside creeks are still under construction and set to be complete later this summer.