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  • Chris Belcher

Our Five Favorite San Antonio Parks For Nature Watching

San Antonio residents can choose from over 250 parks for their favorite outdoor pastime whether that’s mountain biking, walking, fishing, or nature watching.

Our five favorite San Antonio parks for nature watching are McAllister Park, Brackenridge Park, Hardberger Park, Stone Oak Park, and Mud Creek Park. The five parks aren’t listed in order of most to least favorite.

McAllister Park

A Whitetail buck grazes on grass in McAllister Park July 28, 2021. Photo: Chris Belcher

If you love seeing whitetail deer then McAllister Park is the place for you. All you need to do is drive down Leaping Fawn Lane and you’ll see plenty of deer. McAllister Park has 976 acres with approximately 10 miles of trails you can explore to see birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. Mud Creek Loop wanders through a natural section of the park. As you walk past heritage oaks you can hear birds singing, the wind rustling through the leaves, and if you’re lucky spot one of the owls that call Mud Creek Loop home.

Brackenridge Park

A Snowy Egret catches a crawfish in the San Antonio River alongside the Lambert Beach section of Brackenridge Park March 14. Photo: Chris Belcher

San Antonians have been visiting Brackenridge Park since George Brackenridge donated the land that became the park in 1899. Visitors can enjoy a stretch of the San Antonio River teaming with water birds. Egrets and Herons flock into the area near Joske’s Pavilion filling their rookery with hundreds of birds. Ducks, Egyptian Geese, songbirds, and squirrels can easily be found walking along the parks nearly two miles of trails. Red-shouldered Hawks patrol the skies above the park looking for prey. We like the park for the waterbirds which are always present and always entertaining to watch.

Hardberger Park

An Eastern Cottontail Rabbit eats grass in Hardberger Park Sept. 24, 2021. Photo: Chris Belcher

Birders have made birding so popular in Hardberger Park that it has its own bird list. The park was divided by Wurzbach Parkway until the Tobin Land Bridge opened in Dec. 2020. You can now walk all of East and West Hardberger Park the nearly six and half miles of trails from either park’s parking lot. The west side of the park contains the Native Plant Wildscape Demonstration Garden. The garden is a great place to spot hummingbirds in the summer. It’s also a great place for butterflies and other pollinators. The east side of the park has a water feature that’s a good place to sit and watch for birds. It also has a butterfly garden that’s a good spot to watch pollinators going after nectar and pollen.

Stone Oak Park

A Painted Bunting looks for food in Stone Oak Park June 2, 2021. Photo: Chris Belcher

Stone Oak Park is a great park for birding and wildlife watching. This park is also divided into two sections by a road, in this case it’s Stone Oak Parkway. Stone Oak North Loop in the northern section of the park is good for wildlife watching. Deer can be seen here but will not let you get as close as they will in McAllister Park. The southern section has denser vegetation than the northern section but is still a good area for birds to include migratory species.

Mud Creek Park

A butterfly rests in Mud Creek Park August 13, 2021. Photo: Chris Belcher

The least heavily visited of the five parks, Mud Creek Park is also the smallest. It’s reached by a narrow strip of land from the parking lot on Jones Maltsberger Rd. This park is always full of Northern Cardinals. You can watch Black Vultures gliding across the sky above the park looking for fresh carrion. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks nests in the park and can be spotted from the trail. This is a park where you also see deer. They run if you stand on the trail too long watching them, but you’ll still get a sight of whitetail does and bucks here. A coyote roams the park. You’ll probably never see it when you visit. Other wildlife that can be found in this park is squirrels, rock squirrels, Opossums, Armadillos, and Racoons. Once the wildflowers start blooming it’s also a good place to watch butterflies and other pollinators. If you visit after it rains Mud Creek Park will earn its name.

Those are our five favorite San Antonio parks for nature watching. We’ve never visited them without enjoying nature in some form or fashion. If you want to see San Antonio’s urban wildlife, get out and explore its parks. You’ll get to know your wild neighbors and enjoy some fresh air while you’re at it.


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