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Little River, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

FM 437 to FM 1600
~ 33 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.

This reach of the Little River flows entirely within Milam County southeast of Belton, starting off FM 437 between Davilla to the south and Rogers to the north. The run is 33 miles through central Texas farmland and ranchland, with no towns or cities located along the river or in immediate proximity. Several road crossings offer intermediate access points for those wanting to paddle less than the entire distance down to FM 1600. The trip is more of the same flow conditions and topography in the section above, as well as the one below - slow currents, heavily-vegetated riverbanks lined with sycamore, willow and elm trees, and no rapids or waterfall drops. The banks are usually steep and muddy, making access a little more difficult. Its year-round flow makes it ideal for recreational paddlers with limited experience, provided they are equipped with everything they need including their own boats and shuttles. The lack of any commercial services along the Little River portends a stream that will never have a high-volume traffic problem, and paddlers will almost never see anybody on the river other than those in their own group.


Milam County of central Texas, starting between Rogers and Davilla, then flowing southeast to the FM 1600 crossing between Rockdale and Cameron.

Distance from major cities

Dallas 145 miles; Austin 60 miles; San Antonio 140 miles; Houston 170 miles; Oklahoma City 350 miles; Little Rock 470 miles; Kansas City 650 miles; Albuquerque 763 miles; Phoenix 1,081 miles; Denver 910 miles; Salt Lake City 1,382 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 fair to good, with limited pollution, the major spoilage being decomposing natural riverbank vegetation and occasionally dead-fallen tree debris. The water usually has a murky appearance due to the mud that enters along its steep banks. 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 437 crossing, 15 miles west of Cameron at 0.0 miles (access is poor, and will be more difficult for rafts); County road crossing off FM 437, about 12 miles west of Cameron, at about 7.0 miles; County road crossing off FM 485, 11 miles southwest of Cameron, at about 17.0 miles; FM 486 crossing 11 miles southwest of Cameron at about 25.0 miles; FM 1600 crossing, 8 miles south of Cameron, at about 33.0 miles (about a half mile of roadside access is available.)

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

This reach of the Little River is almost identical to the reach above, except that it is about 8 miles longer. Paddlers will find a steady-flowing, though slow, stream with steep, muddy banks that make getting out of the river along the way difficult. It is a wilderness trip where no signs of civilization other than occasional road crossings will be found along the way. Multiple access points allow paddlers to choose the length of trip they want to take depending upon time available and personal preferences, with section lengths of 7, 8 or 10 miles. Late-spring through early-fall trips will be hot and humid, so be prepared for those conditions, and don't go to the Little River expecting to join others, because you will prpbably have this stream all to yourselves.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 33 miles
Minimum Flow 200 cfs
Optimum Flow 400 - 2,000 cfs
Maximum Flow 3,000 cfs
First Put-in FM 437
Last Take-out FM 1600
Elevation msl
Gradient max.
USGS Gauge 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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