4 min read

Travelogue: Hillview Natural Trail

Since returning from Colorado, we've been aching to get back out on the trail.
Tuck, our new chihuahua-dachshund, poses on a ledge at the end of the trail.
The only one of approximate 400 photos where Tuck is paying attention.

Since returning from Colorado, we've been aching to get back out on the trail. We bought the San Antonio/Austin edition of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles, because even though I've lived here for ten years, and Meera for six, we haven't really explored our own backyard. It's a convenient answer to "where should we go next weekend?", and it gives us some shorter, less-ambitious options for when we're not really up for a twenty-mile hike on a random Sunday afternoon.

The Plan

The Hillview Natural Trail is a 3.4-mile trail mostly inside Eisenhower Park, which is very close to our house (don't be creepy). It also includes a bit of bike trail along the Leon Creek Greenway, which is still under construction but appears mostly finished.

Since our new dog, Tuck, has been walking a mile every morning and evening, we thought we'd test his endurance by more than tripling that and adding a 300-foot climb alongside it.

We were pretty confident he could make it, but we prepared anyway. We got him a cheap little trail water bottle from Amazon, and we both packed our daypacks in case we needed to load everything into Meera's bag and load Tuck into mine for the rest of the hike.

Turns out we shouldn't have worried.

The Hike

The actual trailhead is somewhat hidden. The trailhead for the biking trail that goes down to The Rim (a massive "lifestyle center" shopping facility near I-10 and 1604) is prominent from the parking lot, so we actually made a false start in that direction before realizing we weren't going where we expected. A quarter-mile of backtracking and a little exploration through the pavilions of the park itself got us started on the actual trail.

From there, the hike was straightforward. Going counter-clockwise around the loop, it's about 2 miles to the peak, on which someone has erected a lookout tower to get you above the trees. From there, you can see some elegant high-power transmission lines in the foreground rising above the new apartments at The Rim and the skyline of downtown San Antonio in the distance. Tuck gamefully came up the stairs with us, but refused to smile for the camera.

Left: Meera holds Tuck for the camera while he complains Right: Jerry does the same thing, and so does Tuck.
Left: Meera holds Tuck for the camera while he attempts to escape‌ ‌Right: Jerry does the same thing, and Tuck is no happier.

Despite his strong side-eye game at the top, Tuck hopped up and down the rocks of the trail even more easily than I did. Most of the trail is smooth slopes on rock or gravel, but there are three or four steeper portions where you should step carefully. We found only one spot where we had to guide Tuck to a jump he could make—he's pretty agile for a small dog, but even he has limits; otherwise, he was content making his own trail.

After reaching the top, the trail slopes down to the Leon Creek Greenway bike trail and takes the cement path all the way back to that same trailhead we saw in the beginning. Turns out we would have been just fine if we'd kept going, but Meera and I appreciated the even footing near the end of the hike, and I'm sure Tuck did too.

Lessons Learned

  1. We should adventure more around San Antonio. I've never been to Eisenhower park, and this hike was quite pleasant despite the humidity. We rated it four stars on AllTrails.
  2. Tuck took a few sips from his new water bottle, but ultimately didn't really appreciate it. We've ordered a collapsible water bowl for him to see if he'll like it more. This hike was short, but we have ambitions of taking him farther out.
  3. We need a better hiking harness for Tuck. He's currently using a training harness, which is nice for walks around the neighborhood, but not very comfortable for when we want to let him wander a bit more. We've ordered a Ruffwear Front Range harness for him to try out. It's more padded and has both front and rear attachment points for a leash, which should give us both hiking (rear) and training (front) options.

Conclusion: Success!

I'll confess that I was worried when we got such a small dog that he would hamper our hiking style. Today, he didn't slow us down for a second over more than three miles, and I couldn't be happier. We probably won't do that hike again—we have fifty-nine more to check out—but we've got a new hiking companion. Now if only he could learn how to pose...

Tuck perched on a ledge, but looking the wrong way. And sad.
Tuck is much more interested in the approaching cyclist than in Meera trying to take a cute picture.