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Denton Creek, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

Grapevine Dam to Carrollton Dam
~ 11.6 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

Between Dallas and Fort Worth flows Denton Creek, an 11.6 mile twisting, turning flatwater run that is fun for the whole family at low water levels (60-100 cfs) and skills building for experienced canoeists and kayakers at flows over 100 cfs. The trip is scenic, almost remote considering its short distance from Dallas, Fort Worth and the Mid-Cities area of the Metroplex. It is short enough for a half day or full day trip depending upon how you paddle. Denton Creek usually relies upon water releases from Grapevine dam, but recent local rainfall can quickly flood and swell the creek to dangerous levels. There are numerous turns and chutes that require quick decision-making and action to negotiate properly. Experience in swiftwater paddling and rescue is recommended at flows above 300 cfs, and strongly advised at flows above 500 cfs. Vegetation is lush along the river, often overhanging and obscuring tight, narrow channels with sharp twists that require good control skills to run. Access is decent, and at the end of the day it is a short drive back to anywhere in the DFW Metroplex.


Tarrant and Dallas Counties in North Texas, about equidistant between Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton.

Distance from major cities

Dallas 30 miles; Fort Worth 25 miles; Denton 35 miles; Austin 230 miles; San Antonio 310 miles; Houston 280 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Good with a dam release from Grapevine Reservoir, muddy after heavy local rainfall and stagnant in the dog days of summer if water is not being released from the reservoir.

Best time to go

Anytime there is adequate flow, which normally means spring, early summer or late fall, but moderate to heavy rains anytime can make Denton Creek navigable.

Hazards to navigation

The hot Texas summer sun and blast furnace winds can be a real problem from June through September. At flows exceeding 500 cfs there is a dangerous rapid just below the put-in that will have large standing waves and haystacks capable of swamping an open canoe. In such conditions the best boats are canoes that are either decked or filled with airbags for flotation, or kayaks. There are no other hazards on Denton Creek other than the sharp turns if you are not on your game when approaching them.

River Access Points

Dam control outlet immediately below Grapevine Dam at 0.0 miles; Denton Tap Road crossing at 5.3 miles; McInnish Park on Sandy Lake Road at the crossing of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River at 11.4 miles. There are no other access points on Denton Creek.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are no camping facilities on Denton Creek. Day camping can be done at Sandy Lake Park a few tenths of a mile east of the McInnish Park take-out on Sandy Lake Road.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

Trinity River Kayak Company, located at 1601 E. Sandy Lake Road at the Trinity River (southwest corner) in Coppell, Texas 75019 (214-513-0649) offers kayak, canoe and gear rentals and sales, shuttles, and a river store for snacks and supplies just below the confluence of Denton Creek and the Trinity River. At least four other DFW area commercial outfitters offer rentals, shuttles and river information for Denton Creek.

Reviewer's comments

Denton Creek is a great weekend, or even weekday afternoon paddle trip close to the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. It is a flatwater stream teeming with an abundance of fish, wildlife and vegetation that makes you forget just how close you are to one of the five largest metro areas in the nation. The creek flows into the Trinity River just north of Dallas in suburban Carrollton, just above Carrollton Dam. Nearby rentals and shuttles can be obtained from North Texas Canoe Rentals on Whitlock Lane in Carrollton on the east side of IH 35 (Sandy Lake Road west of IH 35.) This is an easy paddle trip that almost anybody can enjoy regardless of previous experience.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to II
Length 11.6 miles
Minimum Flow 100 cfs
Optimum Flow 200-500 cfs
Maximum Flow 1,000 cfs
First Put-in below Grapevine Dam
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out McInnish Park
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Grapevine
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season dam-release dependent
Permits No

Trinity River Kayak Company - River adventures on Texas' Trinity River and Denton Creek

Trinity River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Trinity River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
(Map shows Dallas local area only)

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

Houston Canoe Club

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 ] [ West Fork ] [ Clear Fork ] [ East Fork ] [ Elm Fork ] [ Sylvan Avenue to Dowdy Ferry Road ]
[ Lake Livingston Dam to FM 162 ] [ FM 162 to IH 10 ]

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