By 2036, the Great Springs Project is expected to have over 170 miles of trail running through four springs from San Antonio to Austin.

This project will run through the city of Schertz and connect to cities, such as Selma and New Braunfels, as it runs west and toward San Antonio.

Alongside this large-scale project, Northeast Metrocom cities are also investing millions of dollars into local connectivity and trails for hiking and biking.

Live Oak, Selma, Schertz and Cibolo have approved multiple trail projects to connect parks, neighborhoods and retailers throughout the area.

Live Oak City Manager Glen Martel said these projects are a direct result of feedback from residents, and the goal is to have walking and biking accessibility across the city.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to bring all of this forward for the residents,” he said. “We are able to bring the vision together from our parks and [recreation department], our [economic development corporation], and resident feedback.”

Investing in trails

Since 2017, the city of Selma has invested an estimated $3.3 million in trail-related projects, including the Cibolo Creek Recreational Trail, the Historic Evans Hike/Bike Trail and the development of the John S. Harrison House property.

The Cibolo Creek Recreational Trail was in conjunction with the Evans Road Project and added over 6,000 linear feet of 10-foot-wide recreational trails along Cibolo Creek.

According to Assistant City Administrator Wyatt Agee, the Historic Evans Hike/Bike Trail was completed in 2017 and added two segments running from the John S. Harrison House, through the Stage Stop Park Visitor’s Center and Cibolo Creek up to the FM 1518 Park.

On Dec. 13, Live Oak City Council approved multiple ordinances for trail-related projects amounting to a total of $900,000 to go toward trails.

Economic Development Corporation Director Donna Lowder said these projects will be funded through the EDC.

“It is very aligned with the goals of the EDC, City Council and parks and [recreation] to make that connectivity for those pedestrians to make it from one side of Live Oak, bike across or walk across, to the other side of Live Oak,” she said.

Mark Wagster, Live Oak director of public works, said the city also approved a trail connecting the Live Oak swimming pool recreation area to Main City Park. This trail costs $200,000 and will connect with the trail that goes around the lake.

With the opening of a new H-E-B in Cibolo, the city will create a new parking lot and trailhead with an entrance from the store parking lot.

The Town Creek Trailhead will connect with other trails in the city and create a walking area for residents.

While this project has not yet begun development and design, the Cibolo City Council on Jan. 24 approved $161,000 to begin building out the parking lot, and to work on the fishing pond and monument sign for the park area.

The city of Schertz plans to invest an estimated $3.7 million in the Great Northern Trail project, which will add 8 miles of linear trail from Schertz Parkway to the northern part of the city.

The first part of the project from Schertz Parkway to Wiederstein Road was completed in June, with the goal to finish the entire project over the next 10 years.

Lauren Shrum, Schertz Parks and Recreation director, said these investments in trails are a betterment for the community and wildlife in the area that will also drive tourism.

“If you notice, a lot of our parks and trails are along drainage,” she said. “Parks are great infrastructure. They allow for drainage as well as recreational amenities.”

Upcoming projects

Through funds allotted by the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the city of Selma is planning to provide pedestrian and street improvements to the portion of Lookout Road from Evans Road to the Selma-Live Oak city limits.

Agee said these improvements aim to facilitate greater access to Retama Park, Stage Stop Park, City Hall, apartment complexes, nursing

homes and surrounding businesses. “This project completes the ‘backbone’ sidewalk and bike lane network that will connect to all other existing and future pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure throughout the city,” Agee said.

In Schertz, the City Council on Jan. 24 approved a grant application to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Recreational Trails Grant Program for the development of the Dry Comal Creek Trail project.

According to Shrum, this project will be the connection to the Great Spring Project, and will connect to New Braunfels and other cities as well as having a connection to the Great Northern Trail, which will add to the trail network in Schertz.

Shrum said trails throughout the city will provide benefits to the communities that do not have dedicated park land, offering an outlet for exercise and other physical activities,

which then positively affects mental health.

“There are a lot of neighborhoods that we have in Schertz where there wasn’t a park built when it was developed, and now they do not have a short 10-minute walk to a park or access to a park, so the only way we are going to be able to give them access is connect them via trails,” she said.

Live Oak residents will be able to walk from city neighborhoods to retailers at Town Center with the completion of projects, including the trails from Toepperwein to Town Center and from Woodcrest Park to Avery Road, Martel said.

“You will have the ability to walk from Vista Ridge down to Woodcrest Park, on to Miller Road over to Toepperwein and all of that,” he said. “A lot of connectivity is starting to take place.”

Resident Feedback

Every two years, the city of Schertz conducts a Citizen Satisfaction Survey.

Each time this survey is conducted, one of the top requests from residents is for additional parks and trails, Shrum said.

Despite the desire to have additional amenities, Shrum said some residents are opposed to having these developments in their backyards due to safety or noise concerns.

Schertz Mayor Ralph Gutierrez said the city is working to create projects that fit into the community and highlight the area’s beauty, including the Northcliffe area, which has planned parks and trails on the horizon.

In this area, the city has plans to connect the Hilltop and Homestead parks with trails, as well as have a portion of the Great Northern Trail running through the developed area. The Hilltop/Homestead project has an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

“We are trying to make the best of what we have,” he said. “I just wish some of the citizens, some of the residents will see that you got to give it a chance. Something is going to be there, and we are trying to work with the community to make something pleasing and acceptable.”

Adam Howard, a hiking enthusiast who frequents trails in the area, told Community Impact the main draw is the encounters with wildlife.

“I walk on a lot of trails throughout the area, and I think these are some of the best trails around San Antonio,” he said. “There are not a lot of trails where you can walk into deer or ducks, or any other critter, and they are unbothered by your presence.”

Howard said he has been excited about the trail developments over the last decade and hopes to hike the new trails when they are complete.

“I think people are so worried about traffic congestion that they forget about the trails and wildlife, so it is really great to see cities taking care and expanding these trails for people who use them, and I hope more people come out to enjoy them,” he said.