One of the greatest new features the City has added to its parks system in the past few years has been the Red Arroyo Trail. The Red Arroyo Trail is located at 3215 Millbrook Drive.
The trail is a 14-foot wide path that runs from Knickerbocker Road in the east to Sherwood Way in the west, connecting all the neighborhoods along the way. There are two loops, one between Sul Ross Street and South College Hills Boulevard, and the other between South College Hills and Forest Trail. The total trail length with sections and loops, but not spurs, is 3.6 miles. With spurs added, the total is 4 miles.
The setting is ideal, following the Red Arroyo tributaries through rolling plains and riparian zones with native plants and wildflowers, trees, birds and animals of many types.
The project was first envisioned in 2002. The City attempted several times to secure funding for the project through a federal transportation grant program administered through the Texas Department of Transportation. On the fourth try, the City was successful in landing a $3.2 million grant that required a local match of $800,000. The match was provided through half-cent sales tax funds, some stormwater funds and in-kind City staff time for design work. The project was largely designed in-house by City engineers and its in-house architect, with review and approval by TxDOT.
Much of the cost of the project was related to the arroyo crossings with five bridges and other substantial civil engineering work. Other facilities added include three parking areas, one off of Ross, one off of Millbrook Drive and one off of Vista del Arroyo. In addition, public restrooms were constructed at Unidad Park for availability of trail and park visitors.
The City is sometimes asked about the purpose of the ponding areas included in the project. Some were created to balance the effect on the floodplain, primarily because of the inclusion of the bridges. Some of the ponding areas were created for compensation. In addition, some ponding areas serve to improve water quality. As water enters these areas, silt is filtered through the gabion rock structures. Additionally, the areas allow more silt to settle, allowing cleaner water to be sent downstream to the South Concho River. One interesting fact related to the water flow is the elevation change along the trail is more than 25 feet from Sherwood Way (higher) to Knickerbocker Road (lower).
Here is some general information about the trail:
- No motorized vehicles are allowed unless required for those who are mobility impaired.
- Pets must be kept on a leash at all times unless within the fenced area of the dog parks (which are under construction).
- Most of the trails are in floodplains, so they may not be accessible during and after rain.
- 2 bike “fix-it” stations have been installed along the trail to provide tools for repairing bicycles, if needed.
- The Red Arroyo agave logo, seen on the signs at the trail, was designed by students from Angelo State University.
One of the most unique attributes of the Red Arroyo Trail is the collection of art created and installed by the local group Art in Uncommon Places. Led by Julie Raymond and Sue Rainey, artists and supporting volunteers are developing and installing some of the most creative public art in San Angelo. The art includes:
- Several thousand feet of glow-in-the-dark stones embedded in sections of the trail (primarily from South College Hills Boulevard to Sherwood Way).
- Two colonies of ants. (The ants also serve as benches.)
- Large ornamental bird cages with benches.
- Boat silhouettes.
- Large snails.
- Mosaic distance markers.
- Tall mosaic totems.
- Mosaic benches.
- Larger than life gabion statues, along with other works that must be seen to truly be enjoyed.
These works of art create one of the most unique public spaces in West Texas. Not only is the trail a place for transportation, recreation and exercise, it is also a place of artistic interest. Trail users can enjoy art all along the way, from beginning to end.