Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The 7 Best Spots To Paddle Your Way Through the Texas Hill Country

7 best spots to paddle in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

The Texas Hill Country is dotted and crisscrossed with hundreds of miles of spring and river waterways. So whether it is kayaking, rowing, rafting, canoeing, or even stand up paddle surfing, there’s a spot for everyone to spend their quality time.

Either alone or with your loved ones, these 7 spots in the Texas Hill Country are totally worth your time.


sole kayaker moving down a small fall

South Llano River

Navigate through the quiet pools, smooth waters, and gentle rifles along the 6 miles of the South Llano River in the Texas Hill Country. The water levels are generally shallow (they reach waist level) and are almost perfect in all seasons.

This spot is great for fishing, overnight camping, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. You might, however, consider renting kayaks from established outfitters who will transport you to the spots, especially if it’s your first day in the area.

If you don’t want to spend your entire time in the water, you can enjoy spending some time birding and scouting for wildlife. Afterward, you can treat yourself with delicious chicken-fried steaks at Isaack’s Inn Junction.


kayaker moving slowly, enjoying the sights

San Saba River

The San Saba River is a scenic site located on the northern boundary of the Edwards Plateau, Texas. The sparkling clear waters and the beautiful surroundings make the area look like a little paradise. One visit there and you will definitely wish you had known the place earlier.

It is a great spot for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing among other fun activities. Enjoy the thrill of swishing your kayaks through the wide open spaces surrounded by cedar, oak, and pecan trees along the river banks.

The absence of nearby residential areas makes the place relatively calm and thus a great spot for daily escapades.

Water levels of the San Saba River fluctuate with weather conditions. You might, therefore, consider checking the status with an outfitter before your planned trip.


kayaker navigating through rocks in the river

Guadalupe River

Guadalupe River is by far the most popular river in the region, mainly because of the spectacular view of limestone cliffs and avenues of bald cypresses that accompanies it along the 9.9-mile stretch.

The spot offers great tubing, rapids, canoeing and kayaking activities. Another feature contributing to its popularity is the kid-friendliness of the place. Therefore, if you are looking for a relatively inexpensive place for a family out, this is your perfect spot.

The upper part of the River passes through the Guadalupe River State Park, which is among the best places to hike and camp in the region. The lower section of the River, below the Canyon Lake, is wider, deeper and slower. Most recreation activities take place in this section.

Guadalupe River, being among top 100 trout fishing rivers in the USA, also has some best fishing activities in the region.


peaceful river with trees on either side

Pecan Bayou

With a trail length of 3.2 to 4 miles, Pecan Bayou offers a peaceful stretch with slow-moving water that can be paddled in either direction as a loop trail.

Pecan Bayou is an overflow from Lake Brownwood and is controlled by rainfall and dams. It is readily influenced by rainfall runoff that sometimes create temporary high flows and undesirable water quality conditions. You might, therefore, consider checking out with an outfitter before scheduling a visit.

Besides paddling activities, you can enjoy some fun fishing activities too. With simple lures such as spinner baits, plastic worms, and jigs, you can catch a variety of fish ranging from mouth bass, crappie, catfish, and brim.


Lady Bird Lake (Austin)

The Lady Bird Lake (originally known as Town Lake) is a 400-acre reservoir ideal for SUPing, rowing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking activities. The lake doesn’t allow most motorized boats, so the conditions are calm and safe.

Lady Bird is an ideal and a perfect place for individuals seeking to have a nice, long day on the water.

You can either choose to paddle for hours on the 6-mile stretch of river or choose among the popular 3-to-5 mile loops. If you are looking forward to a calm yet eventful trip, this might just be the perfect place for you.

You can also indulge yourself in fishing activities which are also an option on the spot. Largemouth bass and sunfish are the most common in the area.


Canyon Lake

Located northwest of San Antonio, Canyon Lake was made by damming the Guadalupe River. It is one of the most scenic lakes and among the best-known water recreational spots in the whole of Texas.

Besides the many public parks surrounding it, Canyon Lake is also a great fishing spot for Guadalupe bass.

You can also choose to explore the rocky limestone on its shoreline by either boat or on foot. Being a good-sized lake, a trip to its shorelines can be a full-day endeavor. All the same, the experience has proved to be quite exhilarating.

The temperatures can be very high especially in the summer seasons. It is, therefore, advisable to bring along your own shade since there’s no shade at all on the shoreline.


Lake Bastrop

Lake Bastrop is a 900-acre lake in the Lost Pines, Central Texas. It has been perfect for all types of paddling, and SUPing is now becoming a popular activity in the area.

Because of its large size, the Lake offers plenty of room for families and groups planning to spend their day paddling or fishing.

Recently, sailing and water skiing activities have become very popular on Lake Bastrop. As a result, the South Shore Park now offers canoe rentals for those without their boats. Also on the south shore, are campsites and cabins available for any group size.

Surrounding the Lake are trails that are great for experiencing other activities such as hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. If you decide to stick with paddling, you will have plenty of room to stand up on a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard.

Lake Bastrop provides a good mix of recreational activities making it a perfect place for a family outing, event, or gathering.



During the high season, it can be difficult to get in any good paddling because of the tube traffic that accompanies these areas. It is, therefore, advisable to contact outfitters in the Hill Country to inquire about tube traffic before scheduling a trip.

It is also a good idea to talk to the ones in charge about any potentially dangerous conditions you might encounter. If any, discuss the proper precautions that need to be taken before you enter the water. Remember, safety first!