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Crownridge Canyon Natural Area might be one of San Antonio’s best-kept secrets. The day my husband and I were there, we had all 207 acres to ourselves, save for one or two other visitors.

Located at 7222 Luskey Road off of Camp Bullis Road, the natural area was purchased by the City of San Antonio in 2001 to help protect the Edwards Aquifer, the main source of water for this region. The natural area opened in March 2006 to provide a hands-on laboratory for visitors to learn about water conservation and to experience the natural environment. A tile mural by Oscar Alvarado, an artist who has many works along the San Antonio River Walk, illustrates the importance of rain in this age of drought.

The 1.3-mile Red Oak Canyon Trail is ADA Level 1 certified. The paved trail makes for easy walking. The .7-mile Bear Grass Trail is slightly challenging but worth the effort. Tree branches somewhat screen the surrounding McMansions, reminding visitors why purchase of the acreage for public use was a brilliant move by city leaders.

The natural area is open seven days a week, except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, from 7:30 a.m. until sunset. Entrance is free, as is the parking. A covered pavilion and benches scattered along the trails provide a perfect picnic opportunity. Bring along a pair of birdnoculars to see if you can spy the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler from March until July. If you aren’t able to see one, maybe you’ll be able to hear one!