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Little River, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

FM 436 to FM 437
~ 25 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Little River forms in Bell County near Belton and Temple at the confluence of the Lampasas and Leon Rivers, the flows southeast about 96 miles to the Brazos River confluence near Sugarloaf Mountain on the Milam-Robertson County Line in central Texas. The river is a Class I flatwater stream with no major hazards. It is characterized by often steep, heavily vegetated banks behind which are mostly undeveloped farmland along the entire run, though it does flow near a few small towns. The Little River is a slow, meandering stream that is fed by the waters of the San Gabriel River and many creeks along its journey, in addition to the water it received from the two main tributary rivers that create it.

The river nearly always has sufficient flow for recreational paddling, and can be enjoyed by boaters of any skill level in canoes and kayaks. Rafting can also be done if you are not in a big hurry and are not looking for any whitewater excitement. Between FM 436 and FM 437 lies about 25 miles of easy water where fishing is excellent. There are no campgrounds or outfitters located along the way, so you will need to take along everything required for a trip including plenty of drinking water. Occasional log jams can cause problems if not negotiated properly, and this is especially true shortly after heavy local rainfall that can wash trees and riverbank vegetation into the stream where it collects around bends. It is very likely that you will have this river all to yourself, but if flatwater trips on a slow current are your cup of tea, then this river represents "all the tea in China".


Bell and Milam Counties of central Texas, starting near Belton at the confluence of the Lampasas and Leon Rivers, then flowing southeast to the FM 437 crossing in Milam County between Rogers and Davilla.

Distance from major cities

Dallas 135 miles; Austin 70 miles; San Antonio 150 miles; Houston 180 miles; Oklahoma City 340 miles; Little Rock 460 miles; Kansas City 640 miles; Albuquerque 773 miles; Phoenix 1,091 miles; Denver 920 miles; Salt Lake City 1,392 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination to the put-in at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is generally good, with limited pollution, the major spoilage being decomposing natural riverbank vegetation and occasionally dead-fallen tree debris. Flows are slow, but sufficient for paddling just about any time.

Best time to go

The Little River is, for all practical purposes, a year-round stream, weather being the major limiting factor. Between May and September boaters can expect very warm to hot daytime temperatures, but at least it "cools off" into the lower 90's at night! Early-spring and late-fall offer the best combination of navigable flow and favorable climate conditions.

Hazards to Navigation

Other than dead-fall debris, log jams and strainers, there are no significant hazards to navigation on the Little River. Paddlers should consider summertime temperature and humidity to be potential hazards unless properly equipped to deal with them. Just about any able-bodied paddler can enjoy the Little River unless you need an adreneline fix from running whitewater.

River Access Points

FM 436 crossing on the Leon River 5 miles southeast of Belton at 0.0 miles; SH 95 crossing 6 miles north of Holland at about 7.0 miles; County road crossing off FM 436, 5 miles west of Rogers (the bridge is washed out), at about 10.5 miles; County road crossing off SH 95, 4 miles east of Holland (the bridge is washed out), at about 16.5 miles; County road crossing off FM 2268, 6 miles east of Holland (the bridge is washed out), at about 20.5 miles; FM 437 crossing, 15 miles west of Cameron at about 25.5 miles (access is poor, and will be more difficult for rafts.)

Campgrounds and Accommodations

There are no known campgrounds located along the Little River. Egress from the river is difficult except at some of the crossings that provide access. Most of the adjoining land is privately-owned farmland or ranchland, so avoid camping there unless having first obtained landowner permission. This reach is better as a day trip of various lengths to suit the needs of paddlers.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known outfitters located along or providing services to the Little River. Bring everything you need, then run your own shuttles.

Reviewer's comments

The Little River is very much like the Bosque River in terms of scenery and topography. It features often steep banks with dense vegetation in a very remote setting where signs of civilization will usually not be seen. The river is well suited for recreational paddlers in canoes or kayaks, and rafts can enjoy this river if they don't mind a little extra work in the slow currents and sometimes less than ideal access points. Year-round flow is a major attraction, but bring your own boats and gear, as well as sufficient shuttle vehicles because there are no outfitters or campgrounds located along this river. What you will find here is a quiet, flatwater stream of 25.5 miles with several intermediate access points that make it convenient to plan trips of various lengths. This reach is located just south of Waco, a little more than an hour's drive from Austin and about two hours from Dallas.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 25.5 miles
Minimum Flow 200 cfs
Optimum Flow 400 - 2,000 cfs
Maximum Flow 3,000 cfs
First Put-in FM 436
Last Take-out FM 437
Elevation msl
Gradient max.
USGS Gauge Web: 08104100 (Lampasas River near Belton)
Web: 08104500 (Little River)
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts (?)
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No

Little River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Little River map courtesy of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Dallas Down River Club - Promoting paddlesports,  safety and environmental protection

Alamo City Rivermen - Paddling the fine line between geek and bubba

Houston Canoe Club

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Brazos River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

Brazos River
[ Brazos River Homepage ] [ SH 16 to US Highway 180 ] [ US Highway 180 to US Highway 281 ] [ US Highway 281 to FM 1884 ]
[ De Cordova Bend Dam to Lake Whitney ] [ Lake Whitney Dam to SH 6 (Waco) ] [ SH 6 to SH 7 ] [ SH 7 to FM 979 ] [ FM 979 to SH 105 ]
[ SH 105 to US Highway 90 / IH 10 ] [ US Highway 90 / IH 10 to FM 1462 ] [ FM 1462 to Gulf of Mexico ]

Tributaries Little River
[ FM 436 to FM 437 ] [ FM 437 to FM 1600 ] [ FM 1600 to US Highway 190 ]

Lampasas River

[ FM 1047 to Rumley ] [ Rumley to Youngsport ] [ Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir to Little River Confluence ]

Leon River
[ Proctor Reservoir to US Highway 84 ] [ US Highway 84 to Belton Reservoir ] [ Belton Reservoir to Little River Confluence ]

Other Tributaries

[ Paluxy River ] [ Salado Creek ] [ Bosque River ] [ Nolan River ]

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