Getting there: From US Highway 281 in northern San Antonio head west on Loop 1604. Take the N.W. Military Highway exit (a.k.a. 1535) and head north for 2 miles. Look for the park entrance on the left just before the entrance to Camp Bullis. There is plenty of parking.
Walkers descending down the trail from the Observation Tower. The boxes on poles in the foreground are bat houses.
Eisenhower Park has a trail system of opposites. On the one hand there are several paved paths more suited to a family stroll or jogging than hiking. On the other hand, there are numerous natural surface trails that provide a surprising level of difficulty in spots. The sum of it all is that most anyone can find something to like about the park.
The easiest trails are those that are paved. These are shown on the topo map in blue, to differentiate them from the more difficult natural surface trails. The most interesting of the three paved trails is the Cedar Flats Trail that cuts through the center of the park, starting at the trailhead on the eastern side of the park and ending up at the western end of the park. Some minor elevation dips turn into a steady climb as the trail nears the western edge.
At the end of the trail a loop encircles a wooden viewing platform situated on one of the
highest points in the park. There are a couple of good views up here, but there would be
even more without the quarry and high tension power lines that lie in the direction of downtown
At a highpoint in the park this observation tower provides a way to peek over the trees.
More interesting to hikers are the natural surface trails that make up the majority of the park's mileage. The Hillview Trail circumnavigates almost the entire perimeter of the park, oftentimes following the park fence in a straight line. And while the southern boundary is shared with a rock quarry, the dense bushes planted to hide the site of the quarry as much as possible do a pretty good
The natural surface trails are a little less crowded and provide more of a hiking experience.
The western and northern corners of the park are the roughest and the trail can get quite steep for small segments. For the most part these steep sections occur on natural rock steps. One can get a good stair master workout without having to worry about sliding on a scree slope.
About one third of the Yucca Trail is paved, but the rest features a natural surface. The natural
trail starts near the southern boundary of the park and eventually cuts a diagonal line towards the
northwest, crossing the Cedar Flats paved trail in the process. Six campsites are available in the
park at the end of the Yucca Trail for those that would like to camp without venturing too far
from San Antonio.
The natural surface trails can provide some physical challenges. Parts are rocky and steep.
The biggest surprise on the Sunday morning I visited was a rock concert near the parking lot!
I first heard the music while on the trail and I thought it was some inconsiderate visitor playing
their stereo loudly, but it became obvious that it was live music. Eventually I determined that it
was a Christian rock concert. Apparently there is a pavilion complex near the park entrance.
Thankfully, the sound did not carry all the way to the back of the park.
Stick to the western and northern ends of the park for the best hiking experience.
The park boasts a fine trail map that includes a guide to the interpretive markers found
along the trail. The low wooden posts can be hard spot and I was only able to find about
half of those listed. Still, the guide provided an opportunity to brush up on some plant
identification. The development of the trail guides was an Eagle Scout project of
. Thanks Matt!
Eisenhower Park is fairly popular, so don't expect much in the way of solitude. However, the
natural trails do attract fewer people and the trails in the northwest corner of the park also
seem to get fewer people still. Upon hiking all of the trails and doubling back on some of them
I totaled about 7.5 miles and 900 feet of elevation gain. I can see why it's so popular.