Biking and hiking enthusiasts could someday have a brand new, 100-mile network of trails to explore and enjoy in the state of Texas. The vision of the Great Springs Project is to create such a system of trails, linking the state’s Grand Springs between the state capitol in Austin and the Alamo in San Antonio.
The Grand Springs, Barton, San Marcos, Comal, and San Antonio are all connected and fed from what is called the Edwards Aquifer, a groundwater system that provides water to two million people in south-central Texas. According to the project’s website, the Great Spring Project will create an area of protected lands around the aquifer.
The initiative, initially launched in 2018, is expected to finalize its master plan this year, which calls for the trail to be completed by 2036, coinciding with the state’s bicentennial celebrations. The plan works in conjunction with the National Parks Service to find locations for new trails, connect existing ones, and determine where bridges and tunnels should be built -- and how to pay for them.
“Our board president and co-founder, Deborah Morin, had the idea and vision 25 years ago,” says Emma Lindrose-Siegel, the organization’s chief development officer. “Around 2017, she realized that with the area growing so fast and things getting so much more expensive, we needed to act now.”
An estimated 80 percent of Texans live within three hours of the proposed trail, which means it would allow millions access to nature and exercise like never before.
In an interview with KXAN TV, Morin admitted that time and money are the biggest obstacles to the trail becoming a reality. “It’s expensive. The land in a fast urbanizing area costs a lot of money,” Morin says. Grants, public funds, and donations from the public will be needed to purchase the land. “Raising the type of money it takes to pull this off I think is the biggest challenge.”
The master plan calls for local governments located along the route to take over maintenance of the trails, utilizing volunteers. It’s hoped that eventually the state will create a state park, or several, to anchor the trail.
In a statement, the National Park Service and Great Springs Project managers said the project should result “in the protection of natural resources for both aquatic and non-aquatic endangered species [and] water quality protection for the over two million people in the corridor who rely on the Edwards Aquifer for their drinking water.”
The master plan also calls for the development to become a catalyst for further growth along the routes, which they predict could affect the lives of nine million people living between Austin and San Antonio. Inspired by this possibility? Learn more about the Great Springs Project here and read up on
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