The Lampasas River begins as a small stream fed by rain run-off in western Hamilton County, and then winds its way southeast through Lampasas, Burnet and Bell Counties to its confluence with the Leon River just south of Belton about 100 miles below its headwaters. A Brazos River secondary tributary, the Lampasas River is not always navigable, and usually only becomes a recreational river after significant local rainfall causes the river to rise. Characteristics of the Lampasas river include rugged Hill Country topography with heavily vegetated banks, though the river does have numerous access points for starting and ending trips. A highlight of this stream is that is is largely undeveloped and natural, providing a scenic and unpolluted opportunity to explore the Central Texas area by canoe or kayak, though it should not be considered suitable for rafting.
The Edwards Plateau is where the Lampasas rises and flows. It is an area of limestone bluffs, overhanging tree limbs that can pose problems for paddlers and occasionally deadfall log jams, particularly after heavy rainfall, that must be avoided. Between FM 1047 southwest of Evant in Hamilton County and Ranch Road 580 near Rumley in Lampasas County the river flows about 47.5 miles on easy Class I water in a narrow channel. Though this river is not a perennial stream it can still be exciting and fun whenever it has enough water, and you will not be barraged with commercial development, so it makes a great getaway place for a day trip. With plenty of public access a paddler can find a distance that fits his or her needs, but one must always be aware of the potential dangers from low-hanging or deadfallen trees, especially in river bends where the water is swifter. This reach of the Lampasas river is not particularly well suited for overnight trips due to private land ownership along its banks and a general lack of sand or gravel bars on which to camp within the streambed.
Hamilton, Lampasas, Burnet and Bell Counties in the Texas Hill Country between Waco and Austin. Nearby towns include Hico, Halilton, Evant, Adamville, Copperas Cove, Killeen, Temple, Belton, Waco and Salado.
Waco 73 miles; Dallas 150 miles; Austin 108 miles; San Antonio 160 miles; Houston 240 miles; Oklahoma City 326 miles; Little Rock 468 miles; Kansas City 675 miles; Albuquerque 638 miles; Phoenix 1,015 miles; Denver 842 miles; Salt Lake City 1,257 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.
Water quality varies depending on the volume and agricultural run-off. Tyoically, if the the river is navigable, then it will be mirky and brown with silt and dirt. Water quality is generally good, though not drinkable without significant filtering or other processing.
The Lampasas River is best for canoeing and kayaking right after significant rainfall, but parts of it are navigable almost all the time other than in the summer months or during a prolonged drought period. The river is not particularly well suited for rafting due to its shallow gradient, narrow channel, sharp bends and occasional log jams.
There are no major hazards to navigation on this reach of the Lampasas River at normal to moderate flows. Obstacles may include deadfall log jams, sweepers along the banks, especially where the river makes sharp bends and similar obstacles that can usualy be easily avoided by competent paddlers. The river is very flat with no rapids or waterfalls.
FM 1047 about 15 miles southwest of Hamilton at 0.0 miles; County Road crossing west of Evant off US 84 at about 7.0 miles; US 84 crossing about 7 miles west of Evant at about 9.0 miles; County road crossing off US 281, 24 miles north of Lampasas, at about 16.0 miles; County road crossing off US 281, 22 miles north of Lampasas, at about 20.0 miles; County road crossing off US 281, 21 miles north of Lampasas, at about 21.5 miles; US 281 crossing, 15 miles north of Lampasas, at about 33.5 miles; Ranch Road 1690 crossing,13 miles northeast of Lampasas, at about 41.5 miles; Ranch Road 580 crossing, 10 miles northeast of Lampasas, at about 47.5 miles.
There are no known public or private campgrounds located along this reach of the Lampasas River. This section is best suited for day trips. Accommodations (motels) are available in nearby Hamilton, Evant and other small towns located alaong US Highway 281.
Salado Creek Outfitters (254-947-8239), located on Salado Creek in the Town of Salado, offers kayak rentals and sales, shuttle services, fishing licenses, guided fishing trips, gear and supplies, and other services for paddlers on this reach of the Lampasas River. There are no other known commercial outfitters serving this reach of the river.
Catching the Lampasas River above Stillhouse Hollow Reservir with adequate water for a paddle trip is a rarity, but right after a major rain event in the drainage area around and west of Hamilton the river is a pleasure to paddle because of its natural and undeveloped character. The river flows through farm and ranch land that has not been touched by many signs of civilization other than the roads that cross the river, most of which provide access points for starting or ending a trip. While this reach is not well suited for overnioght trips, it is ideal for a scenic day trip whenever there is adequate water. It is not a highly travelled river, so you probably will not encounter others on the water with you here. The river is not recomcmended in the hot, summer months, nor during periods of prolonged drought. After a major rainstorm hits the area you need to watch for deadfall log jams, especially at river bends where the natural current sweeps you into potential debris piles.
You might be fortunate enough to view a wide variety of wildlife including deer, skunks, armadillos, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, various songbirds and birds of prey, and the ever-present (though seldom seen) watersnakes and water moccasins. Late spring through late-fall months may also invite mosquitoes, and during the summer you will be treated to lightning bug shows at night that are awesome. The river is generally quite shaded by large trees lining the banks. This is a great place for those seeking a wilderness-type trip.