The Hill Country River You Don’t Know

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At the far western edge of the Hill Country, a major river arises just far enough away from most Texans that few could point it out on a map. It’s deep enough and fast enough to make a kayak or canoe trip interesting, with crystal clear, sparkling water surrounded by pecan groves and steep hills. Few of us know this river, and even fewer float it, even on a perfect spring day. This river is the Nueces, arising in Real County north of Uvalde, and flowing 315 miles through Corpus Christi and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Nueces River Put In – Barksdale, Texas

Dry Creek Rd, Barksdale, TX

Photo: Robert Deming

The tiny street sign tacked to a telephone pole in Barksdale, Texas, says “Dry Creek Road”, but locals call it “Lovers Lane”. The river is usually not deep enough to float here, but with recent rains, it was just right. I’m excited, perhaps a little nervous, about floating a river I’m not familiar with.

Gin clear water of the Nueces River

Nueces River

Photo: Robert Deming

The Nueces River floodplain is wide, so there isn’t much evidence of civilization visible from the river. I relax and enjoy the scenery as the fast flowing current carries us. Our trip was 2.5 hours, faster than usual and a foot deeper because of recent rains. There are numerous road crossings, so kayakers can plan a longer or shorter trip.

Low Water Crossing

Low Water Crossing

Photo: Robert Deming

Low water crossings on county roads or highway bridges are how we access the river. You can find river bank to just hang out on and swim, or put in with tubes or canoes or kayaks and float to the next crossing. To know what is owned by the State, read up on the TPWD website and look for no trespassing signs or marks; highway right of way is also generally wider at bridges and crossings.  Look for no parking signs — many areas require that you park 200 feet from the water, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t welcome.

Don’t Go Here!

Photo: Robert Deming

River rats call this a strainerThe river flows on both sides of this tree, and the current will push you into the middle of this tangle of tree and brush. Your boat may make it through, but you won’t be in it; you may even be caught in the tangle of limbs and branches. The water at this place is about three feet deep, and the current is fast.  When I saw this ahead, I jumped out of my kayak and lined the boat past it.

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