PADRE PARK – kayak or paddle board the SAN ANTONIO RIVER along the riverwalk trail

Thought there was nowhere good to paddle inside the 410 loop? Think again. Padre Park is just 5 miles south of the Alamo, and one of the few places to paddle along the San Antonio river that I actually recommend.

Paddle boarding and Kayaking on the San Antonio River at Padre park

I love the fun kayak shoot at the dam, and people also like to fish on the down-river side. It’s easy to put in, has calm & level water, and a fun park for kids to play at.

But there are a few drawbacks. Let me explain:

Waterfront and Beach: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This one almost doesn’t apply to Padre Park – It does have nice concrete curb to put in above the dam and kayak shoot. But its not a “waterfront” in the traditional sense, and it’s not a “beach.” What it does have is a wonderful access to the miles and miles long San Antonio Riverwalk. Not the tourist trap “Riverwalk” but the real river walk that you can ride your bike along with the family.  

Paddle boarding and Kayaking on the San Antonio River at Padre park

Clean, Calm Water: 3.5 out of 5 stars

It’s calm, smooth water, great for beginners and kids, and great for paddling. It’s pretty natural river, so I do keep my eye open for the occasional boulder or log that may be shallow below the surface. But It’s not the kind of river property you love to swim in. Mostly because the bottom is super uneven with boulders sporadically that make me nervous as a swimmer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not filled with flesh-eating bacteria or algae plums, but it’s a park and river stretch designed for paddling, not for swimming access. And I’m sure with it being as slow moving as it is, that it does have it’s days where there are a lot of leaves or pollen chilling along the side.

Parking: 3 stars out of 5

Here’s my dilemma – I’m lazy, but I like to paddle. I want the parking to be as close to the river as possible.

At Padre Park, the easy, spacious parking lot is right by the playground, but a solid 150-foot walk down the hill to the waterfront. You’re going to carry whatever you paddle for a bit. If the parking were closer, it might get a 4.5 star rating. Only places like Louise-Hays park in Kerrville get 5’s. Covered, waterfront parking… incredible!

I unload in the parking lot then hoofed my paddle board to the top of the small dam & water shoot to put in. I bet on a major holiday week that you’ll need to stop near the playground to unload, then go park farther away.

Padre Park riverfront by the San Antonio Riverwalk south of the Alamo

Picnic and day-use area: 3.5 out of 5

It’s a solid park – play area, covered pavilion, grass, charcoal pit, grassy hill. Probably some ants around, so not a bare-foot ‘grassy knoll’. It’s not a huge play and picnic area though,

Overall – 3.5 out of 5

Decent all-around place, one of the better places near downtown to paddle board as well as kayak, and right by Mission San Jose if you want to add some variety to your trip.

The stretch of river isn’t much longer than a mile before the next dam and spillway, so it’s not an all-afternoon paddle trail.

 If you’re coming from Stone Oak, The Woodlands in Houston, or Dallas, then you’ll probably not think highly of the surrounding neighborhoods. But my recommendation is relax and enjoy – you came for Padre Park, the San Antonio River and Riverwalk.

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