From its headwaters west of Hunt, past the confluence of the North Fork of the Guadalupe River outside Kerrville and down to Seidensticker Crossing below Comfort, the Guadalupe River flows over a limestone bed lined with beautiful, huge, old Cypress trees accented by Pecans, Sycamores, Elms, Live Oaks, and others that add to the scenic attraction of the river. Paddlers usually put in at Brinks Crossing as the topmost practical starting point, with numerous access points at short distances downriver to Seidensticker Crossing about 5.5 miles east of Comfort.
While the river is sometimes navigable above Center Point that is usually on the case after a major rainstorm hits the area. The first practical starting point, and event that is recent rainfall dependent, is the River Road crossing upriver just to the west of Center Point. This reach of 25.8 miles ends at Waring-welfare Road just north of Zoeller Lane at Waring a few miles below Comfort. The river banks are generally tree-lined with bald cypress, sycamores, oaks, limestone outcroppings and typical river vegetation. The center Point Lake Dam, located 2.8 miles below Center Point River Road access, should be portaged on river right at the boat ramp just above the dam unless the flow is sufficient and you have the skills to successfully negotiate the short drop. The carry around the dam is probably less than 100 yards. As with most of the Guadalupe River, the land adjoining the river is privately owned, and some of the landowners can be downright "assertive" in defending their property from invasions by paddlers. It is best to avoid trespassing except in emergencies. Access should be undertaken only after prior arrangement with the owners on whose land you intend to land. Glass and polystyrene Styrofoam are prohibited on the river and Canyon Lake under penalty of up to $500 in fines. Your compliance with these limitations will make the river cleaner and safer of all users.
The uppermost section of the Guad has shallow banks and recently deposited huge gravel bars downriver from Kerrville. The river is slightly narrower at the top, and shallower with fewer rapids as it flows through mostly ranchland. The river channel occasionally widens and narrows as it winds its way through Kerr and Kendall counties. Occasional sand bars and gravel bars offer primitive camping opportunitues along the river. The gradient increases as it moves toward Canyon Lake, then on down south to New Braunfels before leveling out into a basically flatwater river as it flows toward the Gulf of Mexico. This reach has a average gradient of about 8.2 fpm, though you would hardly notice unless the water level was high and the river was flowing swiftly.
The uppermost part of the Guad is a very gentle river without major hazards other than fallen trees that could pose a danger to anybody paddling or drifting into them though there is a dam in Center Point that should be portaged. At places the road is very close to the river, but with almost non-existent traffic there are times you will not even know how close it is. Texas Highway 27 "parallels" the river from around Kerrville until Seidensticker Crossing, after which time there are no public roads near the river other than crossovers. Take everything you need, because re-supplying from on the river is almost impossible due to the remoteness of the area.
Kerr and Kendall Counties in the Southwest Texas Hill Country, near San Antonio, New Braunfels and Kerrville. This reach of the river flows from just above Center Point, which is just below Kerrville, in Kendall County down to Waring in Kendall County, which is just below Comfort.
Kerrville 15 miles; San Antonio 60 miles; Austin 75 miles; Houston 240 miles; Dallas 280 miles; Oklahoma City miles; Kansas City miles; Little Rock miles; Albuquerque miles; Phoenix miles; Denver miles; Salt Lake City miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)
The water quality in the Upper Guadalupe is generally very good flowing cool and clear with very little contamination. However, it will become muddy after recent local rainfall, and may become cluttered with debris during flood stage conditions. Water will become stagnant during the dog days of summer unless there is adequate rainfall to keep the water flowing. This reach has a low flow volume due to its narrow width and shallow depth. 100 cfs would be a good level, though it could be paddled a little lower than that. Because of the narrow width and twisting, tree-lined channel this reach should probably be avoided by less experienced paddlers at flows above about 400 cfs.
Early Spring to late June is generally best, followed by late September through early November. With proper cold weather gear the Upper Guad can be enjoyably paddled in the winter when temperatures are permissible and adequate flow is available. Summer paddling is fun when there has been adequate recent rainfall, but expect some dragging, especially in the small rapids, when flows are below about 100 cfs. Expect hot temperatures from June through September. This IS Texas, ya'll!
The upper section of the Guad is generally free of major rapids and drops, but low hanging tree limbs, log jams (especially after floods) and shallow rocky chutes can pose problems resulting in bodily injury or damage to boats and gear. The Center point Lake Dam about 2.8 miles below the upper access for this reach should be portaged at the boat ramp on river right unless the flow is adequate and you have sufficient whitewater skills to negotiate the drop of a few feet, but beware of a strong hydraulic current that can develop just below the drop. another dam requiring a portage is located at about 15.3 miles below Center Point River Road and should be portaged on river right. When in doubt - ALWAYS SCOUT! Summer temperatures should be considered a hazard if proper precautions are not taken. Always have protective clothing, sunscreen and plenty of non-alcoholic liquids to prevent dehydration. The Mill Road Crossing has an old low-water bridge which is partially washed out, with a swift, narrow channel running along the left bank around the old crossing. This channel may be clogged with downed trees or other debris, so scout it carefully before attempting to run the Mill Road Crossing.
Center Point River Road on either side (N 29&@176 57' 15.04" / W 099° 04' 43.59") at 0.0 miles; Center Point Lake Dam Access on river right (N 29&@176 56' 46.54" / W 099° 02' 26.30") just above the dam at about 2.75 miles; Park Avenue in Center Point (N 29° 56' 48.22" / W 099° 02' 22.06") on river left at about 2.82 miles; FM 480 Access (N 29° 56' 47.82" / W 099° 02' 15.34") on river left at about 2.95 miles; FM 1350 (N 29° 56' 22.62" / W 099° 00' 36.41") on river left at about 5.2 miles; Homillus Road East (N 29° 56' 13.17" / W 099° 59' 04.91") on river left at about 7.1 miles; Lane Valley Road East / FM 1138 E (N 29° 56' 12.60" / W 099° 57' 37.08") on river right at about 8.7 miles; FM 1261 E (N 29° 56' 22.49" / W 098° 56' 54.01") on river right at about 9.5 miles; Herman Sons Road E (N 29° 56' 57.07" / W 098° 55' 34.03") on river right at about 11.4 miles; Mill Dam Road (N 29° 57' 15.71" / W 098° 55' 07.37") on river right at about 12.5 miles; High Street in Comfort (N 29° 57' 53.65" / W 098° 53' 50.37") on river left at about 14.4 miles; (Possible access at) US Highway 87 (N 29° 57' 54.49" / W 098° 53' 49.99") on river left at about 14.45 miles; IH 10 N (N 29° 58'10.81" / W 098° 53' 31.96") on river left at about 14.9 miles; River Bend Road 1st crossing (N 29° 58' 33.47" / W 098° 50' 40.54") on either side at about 19.75 miles; River Bend Road 2nd crossing (N 29° 58' 21.86" / W 098° 50' 00.97") on river right at about 21.86 miles; S. River Bend Road 3rd crossing (N 29° 58' 06.34" / W 098° 49' 08.64") on river left at about 23.6 miles; Waring-Welfare Road (N 29° 57' 19.86" / W 098° 48' 04.35") just off Zoeller Road on either side at about 25.8 miles. Access is adequate at most crossings, but the availability of public parking is very limited. Please be considerate of others when accessing the river, and always park your vehicles where they do not block river access for others. Never park on private property without securing permission from landowners.
There are no public or private campgrounds along the upper section of the Upper Guadalupe River. Primitive camping is available in the City Park in downtown Center Point, just off Highway 480, as well as numerous places along the river. Improved camping is available at Kerrville-Schreiner State Park on the Guadalupe River at the intersection of Loop 534 and Highway 173, above Brinks Crossing. The State Park features screened shelters, restrooms, dump stations (for trailers), 120 camp sites, water, electricity and a recreation hall with kitchen facilities. Camping along the river may be done on private property, but ONLY with the advance permission of the landowners on whose property you would be camping. If camping on private land or in a public park always leave only footprints and take on photographs. You should always leave the area cleaner than how you found it!
Rentals and shuttles are available from at least one outfitter on the headwaters reach of the Guadalupe River, as well as at least two others located not too far away on the Medina River. Generally, it is advisable to have your own boats and gear and set up your own shuttles.
I have paddled the Upper Guadalupe more miles than probably all other rivers I have paddled combined over a period of more than 10 years. During that time I have witnessed many changes in the character of this river. Land development is starting to creep toward the river, especially along the sections closer to Canyon Lake in Comal County, but also in Kendall and Kerr Counties to a lesser degree. The Upper Guad is my personal favorite river to paddle because it is serenely beautiful, seldom crowded, and offers an enjoyable paddle trip for almost any paddler. There are some good Class I toII drops on this reach of the Upper Guad. It is a pool-and-drop river typical of most Texas rivers. I have paddled the Upper Guad in the heat of the summer, cold of winter and all times in between (if there are any times in between!) The giant Cypress trees that line this river make for a beautiful paddling experience in the spring and fall, when the grasses are green and the trees are in full bloom. I highly recommend this river for anybody wanting to experience the joys of canoeing and kayaking, though it is somewhat less suitable for rafting due to the general lack of any fast-moving water which makes rafting fun. The upper section is also considerably narrower that the middle and lower sections of the Upper Guad, running shallower and slower than the other sections. Headwinds can be a real challenge unless the water is moving, so plan trip distances according to flow rate and wind conditions for the most enjoyable paddle trip.