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Trinity River, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

West Fork of the Trinity River
Archer County to the Clear Fork
~ 145 miles

General Description

The West Fork of the Trinity River forms in southern Archer County and flows some 145 miles southeast to the confluence of the Clear Fork in Fort Worth, then joins the Elm Fork in Dallas to create the main stream of the Trinity River. Along the way dams have been erected to create Lake Bridgeport, Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth, the latter two being in or on the outskirts of Fort Worth. The West Fork has potential for paddling and other recreational activities during periods of dam releases or after recent heavy local rainfall, but steep, muddy banks, log jams, a narrow channel and strong currents can combine to pose hazards to boaters and other users of the river.

Actually, the best sections of the West Fork for paddlesports activities is in or near Fort Worth, through the Mid-Cities area and into Dallas. One particularly nice reach is between Lake Worth and the Clear Fork confluence at Trinity Park west of downtown Fort Worth. It is remote, and it is often difficult to realize that you are in a major metropolitan area. While flowing through a major metropolitan area the steep, tree-lined banks provide a scenic, natural characteristic that gives a sense of remoteness. The down-side is the frequent noise of automobiles on the nearby heavily-traveled highways and roads around the Metroplex. Noise is not a factor, for the most part, northeast of the Fort Worth area. Normal water flow is slow and meandering with a muddy composition. Access is limited and often difficult. Adjoining lands are mostly privately owned, some of which include industrial parks in the stretch between Fort Worth and Dallas.

Location

Archer, Jack, Wise, Tarrant and Dallas Counties in northeast Texas. The river is usually too low for enjoyable paddling above Lake Bridgeport, but can be navigated between the lakes and from Fort Worth to Dallas when there is sufficient flow.

Distance from major cities

Wichita Falls 20 miles; Dallas 135 miles; Fort Worth 105 miles; Austin 265 miles; San Antonio 330 miles; Houston 453 miles; Oklahoma City 161 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Good, but usually muddy due to an earthen bottom. The flow is usually slow except after heavy local rains or dam releases from any of the three reservoirs located between Archer County and Fort Worth, when the river can become dangerous due to obstructions from log jams, steep, muddy banks, low-hanging vegetation and a narrow channel.

Best time to go

Anytime there is adequate water, which means anytime after heavy local rains or whenever dam releases are occuring. Spring and fall usually provide adequate rainfall to prompt dam releases from the three reservoirs located on the West Fork. Summers will be very hot without much shade most of the time. Winters can be cold, but North Texas generally has many warm days throughout the year when paddling can be an enjoyable activity.

Hazards to navigation

There are no rapids of any significance on the West Fork of the Trinity River. However, log jams, low-hanging vegetation, a narrow channel and high flows from runoff or dam releases can create dangerous conditions for paddlers, boat fishermen or others playing in the water. There is usually significant pollution in the form of debris in the DFW Metroplex area that is unsightly, if nothing else.

River Access Points

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are no campgrounds located along the West Fork of the Trinity River. The often steep, muddy banks are not condusive to camping along the streambed, and most adjacent property, especially above Fort Worth, is privately owned. The West Fork is not the best place for overnight trips, lending itself more to day trips where you paddle downriver, turn around and paddle back to your car at the put-in.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no liveries or shuttle services operating on the West Fork of the Trinity River. However, you may be able to rent boats and arrange shuttles from several outfitters in the DFW area.

Reviewer's comments

The West Fork of the Trinity River is not a commonly paddled getaway. However, it is close the the DFW Metroplex and offers a place to dip a paddle after work or on a day when going somewhere else is not practical. Though the water is usually muddy, it is safe for human contact, but it might have an odor closer the the Metroplex due to pollution and debris contamination commonly found in major metropolitan areas.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 145 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: 08042800 (Jacksboro)
Web: 08044500 (Boyd)
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season March-June, October-November
Permits No


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

Houston Canoe Club

Austin Paddling Club - Just for the fun of it!

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

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

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

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

[ Trinity River Homepage ] [ Clear Fork ] [ East Fork ] [ Elm Fork ] [ Sylvan Avenue to Dowdy Ferry Road ]
[ Lake Livingston Dam to FM 162 ] [ FM 162 to IH 10 ] [ Denton Creek ]

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© November 5, 2002. All rights reserved.
Last updated April 5, 2014

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