The River Dog and A River With Too Many ‘L’s

By  | 


Once on the cover of Texas Monthly, this river remains a mystery to most Texans. I can say this because I’ve kayaked it for years and seen but a few people enjoying the clear water flowing through a billion year old riverbed. The floodplain is wide, pushing development out of view from the river,  and when it floods, it is impossibly wide. Water-carved rocky banks, clear, deep pools, and grassy bottoms teeming with two-foot long alligator gar never fail to delight me. This is the Llano River; only 100 miles long but forever a part of those who have known her.

Whitewater, Texas style

Llano Rapids

Photo: Robert Deming

In Texas, we’re just glad to have enough water to float.  Is there a better summer pastime?  The Llano River between Yates Crossing north of Junction and White’s Crossing west of Mason has a fun pour-off.  The river flow in this photo is about 180 CFS (cubit feet per second).  If you pronounce the name of the river properly, yahnno, you are immediately recognized as an interloper.  Locals know the name of the river is pronounced lanno.  Hence, the river with too many “l”s.

Llano River near Mason, Texas

Llano Cliffs

Photo: Robert Deming

This is at a 90 degree bend in the Llano River out of Mason, with deep water for swimming and a riverbank for picnics.  The cliffs opposite are an ancient sandstone.

The Cliffs from above, on the Homer Martin Ranch

The Cliffs from Above on the Homer Martin Ranch

Photo: Robert Deming

The 200-foot tall cliffs between James River Island and Simonsville Road are stunning, both from below and above.  The river in this stretch southwest of Mason forms an “L” shape, with these magnificent dark red sandstone cliffs lining the turn.

Friends make a river trip more fun

Friends Kayaking

Photo: Robert Deming

This group of friends floated from James River Island to the Simonsville Road crossing.  This island is on  FM 2389 southwest of Mason and is a popular place for local people to hang out (Masonites?).  This used to be a place popular with 4-wheelers, which was destructive to the river beds.  Now it is illegal to drive in a river, and the river is recovering.  There is a nice sandy beach on the downriver part of the island, which is great for picnics.

Ria the River Dog

Ria the River Dog

Photo: Robert Deming

This Border Collie started kayaking as a puppy and made hundreds of floats with me. She loved rivers and was always ready to go.  When she first started, she would jump out of the boat as we approached rapids, run down the bank, and meet me at the downstream end.  I found that if I pulled her close to me and talked to her, she would stay in the boat. Hey, some of the rapids make me nervous, too!

Remember, check the gauges (put river flow Llano River Mason in a search engine to find the gauge at the US 87 bridge).  Read up on private property along rivers on the TPWD website.  Take out your trash, cover up or use sunscreen, wear your life jacket. And, have fun!