Brazos River - Paddling
Striped bass, painted buntings, mule deer, and the desert cottontail all make their home along the Brazos River which runs 840 miles diagonal across much of the state of Texas. The river flows into Possum Kingdom Lake just west of the city of Mineral Wells, Texas. This area provides an easy put in location on the Brazos River if you’re coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The two and a half hour drive from the metroplex makes it great for a weekend paddling trip.
What Makes It Great
The Brazos River south of Possum Kingdom Lake has beautiful bluffs and a more narrow channel. Camping in this section might require you to pull your rig up the bank or tie it off to a tree. About 10 miles down river the banks open up. At this point, large sandbars and islands dot the banks and river providing great locations for setting camp and building a fire. Paddlers can freely explore the river, but remember to respect the private property just beyond the banks. For a classic read on the river check out John Graves’ Goodbye to a River.
Keep an eye out for wildlife. A variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles inhabit the river and its banks. Depending on the time of year you may encounter migrating eastern kingbirds, ruby-throated hummingbirds, or bobolink. For ideal conditions, high water levels and low temperatures, paddle the Brazos in the Spring. The fall months provide another chance to get on the river, but low water levels will likely mean more portaging. Even if you pack enough water, don’t attempt to run the river in the heat of the Texas summer. Adventurers in Texas must consider their surroundings, avoid murky, shallow waters, and be on the lookout for water snakes.
Who is Going to Love It
Paddling the Brazos River makes a great weekend adventure for anyone looking to get away from the city. Families wanting to show their kids the great outdoors will find a perfect mix of adventure and tranquility. The ample and large sandbanks make this river a great option for large groups. Yet, even in the heavy traffic months paddlers can find a quiet hideaway on the water’s edge.
Most of the river flows flat and placid. Low water levels mean you’ll have to portage through a few shallow areas. On this slower moving river, you can forge upstream if you don’t want to hire a pickup service. Hidalgo Falls, near College Station, supplies the only portion on the Brazos to run rapids, which range from Class I to Class II+.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Check the current water levels for the section you’re planning to paddle. Flow’s fluctuate quite a bit and have a major effect on what type of paddling you will find. Southwest Paddler lists a number of places to put into the river just south of Possum Kingdom Dam. They suggest the SH 16 boat ramp downstream from the arch bridge. (N 32° 51′ 29.66″ / W 098° 24′ 40.98″) If you’re looking to rent a kayak or canoe to explore this portion of the Brazos River or if you have any questions about the river, contact Rochelle’s Canoe Rental.
Featured image provided by Katie Fisher