100-mile trail project will connect San Antonio to Austin – but you’ll have to wait

Written by: Karly Williams
Read the article on My San Antonio

A new parks project in Central Texas is on the way, but you’ll have to wait over a decade to enjoy it completely.

The Great Springs Project, a major feat announced by the National Park Service in December of 2020, will aim to connect four of Texas’ Great Springs between San Antonio and Austin.

When completed, the goal of the project is to add 50,000 acres of protected National Park Land over zones of the Edwards Aquifer that links San Antonio Springs, Comal Springs, San Marcos Springs, and Barton Springs.

Hike-and-bike trails will be built to connect the sprawling project, ensuring residents in every part of the Austin-San Antonio corridor have access to beautiful outdoor experiences. The Springs Project will further protect natural resources for endangered species and water quality for the over two million people in the corridor who rely on the Edwards Aquifer for their drinking water.

The 100-mile trail, first reported on by Culturemap, already has a few big fans, with Manu Ginobili tagging former San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan and Fabricio Oberto, and challenging them to a cycling challenge.

But Timmy, Manu and outdoor fans will have to wait — the entire project is expected to be completed by 2036.

And as Texas’ population booms, the project also aims to ensure that some area between Austin and San Antonio is saved from being swallowed up by the ever-growing urban sprawl of the two cities. Rapidly growing urbanization in the area threatens to increase flooding and threaten ecology if not balanced with conservation efforts.

The project’s leadership also boast a number of San Antonio natives, including the President of the Board, Deborah Morin, who was born in the city.

The springs project has also garnered attention from major outdoor companies. They were awarded a grant from REI Co-op to help support the trail connection between Barton Springs and San Marcos Springs in July of 2020.

The San Antonio Springs, one of the major connecting points, are located mostly in the Incarnate Word community near Broadway and Hildebrand Avenue. Frederick Law Olmsted was an American landscape architect and journalist, and was one of the first to describe the beauty of the city’s natural springs. He specifically wrote about “The Blue Hole,” the largest fountain spring in the San Antonio spring system.

“The San Antonio Spring may be classed as the first water among the gems of the natural world.  The whole river gushes up in one sparkling burst from the earth.  It has all the beautiful accompaniments of a smaller spring, moss, pebbles, seclusion, sparkling sunbeams, and dense overhanging luxuriant foliage.  The effect is overpowering.  It is beyond your possible conceptions of a spring.  You cannot believe your eyes, and almost shrink from sudden metamorphosis by invaded nymphdom.”

The National Park Service announced in a press release that they will pair professional landscape architects and community planners with cities and towns within the corridor to achieve their goals.

You can follow the progress of the Springs Project on their Instagram, @greatspringsproject