Location:1349 Neal Rd (main gate address), San Antonio, TX
On most days riding at LHI is arranged by appointment only. However, the park is always open the second Saturday of every month with no appointment required. Contact Mark or Peggy Oppelt for scheduling an appointment. Presenting a negative Coggins and signing a release is required.
In San Antonio on the South side, from HWY 410 and HWY 16, travel south on 16 and take the first left at the light onto Applewhite. Pass the Toyota Plant, cross the Medina River, pass the Medina River Greenway Trailhead, and then turn left on Neal Road. The main entrance gate will be on the left with a stone sign to the right of the gate. Request your parking site when calling to arrange your ride at LHI. For our outing, we parked past the headquarters by the Presnall Watson House.
Cost: $10.00 donation per rider for the day, groups of more than ten riders may vary the donation rate, and $25 a night for water/electric camping sites.
Facilities: LHI has a designated equestrian center for day riders and campers with electric hook ups, water, pens, and a restroom/shower which can be accessed from the porch of their rental bunkhouse (you do not have to rent the bunkhouse in order to have access/use of the restrooms).
Overnight Camping: RV / living quarter trailer hook ups have recently been installed! Camping is now allowed by reservation. . LHI has a new bunk house that can be rented for $250.00 but there are not bunks in it yet, so you have to bring your own cots.
Mileage: Mileage is estimated to be around 12 – 15 miles of trail.
Terrain: The land is mostly flat with some rolling slopes/hills. The wide jeep roads / bridle paths are dirt with few rocks.
Horse back riding is one of the recreational activities offered at LHI and can be arranged through appointment only at this time or without appointment on the second Saturday of the month between 9am to 5pm. Hiking and cycling are also allowed at LHI. When looking at the map notice the Jeep Trail, this is also the equestrian / bridle trail. When viewing the map further, notice the marked hike and bike trails (this also may be known as Medina River Greenway). These paved pathways are for hikers and bikers only so please be respectful and stay off of the paved trails. The equestrian / bridle trail is good ground, wide with mostly flat dirt paths. There are few rocks on the bridle trail so shoes or boots for most horses will not be a requirement. If you are looking for easy terrain to do some long trots to condition your horse, the bridle trails would be ideal. LHI requires you stay on the designated bridle trail unless you are guided by a fellow rider associated with LHI.
For our first outing at LHI we were fortunate to have Jack Borchers with TETRA (Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association), one of the permanent director organizations on the board of LHI, give us a tour. He kindly showed us the trails and historical sites of LHI. Jack also took us off trail to really explore the land. I thoroughly enjoyed the trails, company of my fellow riders, perfect weather, and golden green landscapes. The November sky was brilliantly blue and clear with an occasional military aircraft or formation high overhead. Lackland Airforce base was putting on Airfest 2010 at Kelly Field that weekend which I was able to enjoy from the saddle.
Where The Trails Are returned to the Land Heritage Institute in San Antonio on April 13th, 2013 to participate in their introductory trail ride. Over sixty trail riders arrived at the facility to enjoy new trails, new features, and the camaraderie of fellow riders.
The Land Heritage Institute (LHI) is a 1,200 acre “living land museum” uniquely combining nature, recreation, culture, education, and the arts in south San Antonio. LHI is located near the Toyota plant and off the Medina River’s south bank. This section of land has an unusual history, which is interesting to learn about and experience. The ground on which the LHI exists has more than a deca-millennium of human habitation resulting in over 36 state registered archaeological sites. LHI is an internationally recognized Beene Site. Informative signs mark significant historical sites on the trail. The Corn Crib is one of the historical sites off of the bridle trail and is marked on the map. The crib was built in the 1850s and is now used to house photographic images linking history and modern day digital technology together creating an artistic merging of education, art, history, and culture. Follow the link http://ansenseale.com/corncribvideo.html to view a short clip detailing this project. This is a permanent exhibit. When making your appointment just let Peggy or Mark know if you would like to view this exhibit so he can have it unlocked. The Applewhite House ruins are located just across from the Corn Crib. This house was also built in the 1850s with stones from the river bed’s edge by Steven Applewhite and his brother. The LHI website (www.landheritageinsititute.org) details the land’s history and the evolution of the institute. The LHI foundation is nonprofit and managed by a board consisting of over twenty organizations including the Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association (TETRA). The Institute is continually being developed, and thanks to several volunteers and Americorps, new trails and facilities have been recently added. Equestrians can now camp overnight and make use of the new horse pens and RV water and electric hookups with easy to maneuver pull-through sites for just $25 per night. Primitive camping is $10 per night and riding for the day requires a minimum $10 donation. Call Peggy or Mark Oppelt, board president, at (210) 846-9403 to schedule a time to ride or camp at the Institute. Presenting a negative Coggins and signing a release is required.
Several exciting improvements have been made since my last visit to LHI. One of the newly added trails, Riverside Run, is now my favorite. Riverside Run rests under the shade of a variety of tall mature trees such as oaks and cottonwoods while snuggling up to the cool Medina River, supplying at least a five to ten degree drop in temperature. The trails are fairly well marked, wide, and simple to follow. The Institute is working hard to restore and improve the land; however there are a few areas of debris not far from the trail and ground hog holes in the open pastures, so please do follow the park rules and stay on the trail. Horses are not allowed on the paved hike and bike only trails, known as the Medina River Greenway, except to cross over where they intersect with the equestrian trails.
LHI is estimated to now have about twelve – fifteen miles of equestrian trails. I recommend experiencing the Institute by horseback, hiking, biking, or camping and hope that others visit and support this emerging public resource.