When Norma Friedrich Ward donated 180 acres (73 hectares) of wild Texas Hill Country to the public, she wanted it to be a sanctuary away from busy urban life.
Today, the Friedrich Wilderness Park, just a short drive north of downtown, spans 240 acres (97 hectares). Not only does it protect the plant and animal life in the area, it’s an escape from the city and a place of recreation for locals and visitors alike. Forests and canyons provide the backdrop for a peaceful day out.
The well-marked 5.5 miles (8.8 kilometers) of trails are graded in terms of difficulty from one to four, and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. It’s hilly country, so level four is a steep climb (though manageable to finish in about an hour). From the highest point, there’s a great view of the skyline of downtown San Antonio.
The park draws bird-watchers from around the world thanks to an abundance of wildlife, including endangered species such as the black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler. Be on the lookout for other animals, including white-tail deer, roadrunners and raccoons.
Guides are available to lead educational and themed hikes. Spiders, fall colors and fossils are among the typical themes. Check the San Antonio Parks and Recreation website for details, and call ahead for a schedule and to make reservations.
Come armed with snacks, as there are no restaurants in the park but plenty of beautiful spots to spread a picnic blanket. This peaceful respite is a true escape from busy daily life, but be aware that bicycles aren’t allowed, nor are skateboards, scooters, rollerblades, smoking, camping or pets.