Chalk up river number six in my summer of paddling.
So far this summer, I’ve canoed the Devils River and kayaked the San Marcos River, the Llano River, the Pedernales River and Mexican Creek near Medina Lake. On Sunday, I added the Colorado River east of Austin to the list.
My husband and I dropped by Cook’s Canoes in Webberville, where we chatted with quintessential river guy Neal Cook, who wears a beat-up straw hat and looks like he might keep a pet nutria in his bathtub. (We love him!) We paid $20 to have him to shuttle us to our takeout point, where we left our truck.
The Colorado River gets high marks if you’re looking for an easy paddle trip. It’s wide, without rapids or dams to navigate. The water is warm, and we passed a couple of big gravel beds. Alligator Island (no, we didn’t spot an alligator, but we did see a faded sign) makes a nice spot to stop and swim, as does a larger, 5-acre island a little farther downstream. (Sometimes there are old metal chairs under the shade trees there. It’s a popular spot for camping and picnicking.)
Nobody’s out there, either. This is the same river that forms Lady Bird Lake in Austin, but just 20 minutes east of town you’ll have the place to yourself. An airboat buzzed us heading upstream and one other canoe (a man, woman and black Labrador) passed us heading downstream during the two hours we spent on the river, swimming and kicking back.
We covered 5.5 leisurely river miles between Little Webberville Park and Big Webberville Park, stopping frequently to splash around and take pictures. Both points have concrete boat ramps, for easy put in and take out, and huge shady oak trees make a good resting spot at the finish.
We paddled past a lot of trash during the first mile of our trip. Someone’s apparently been ditching car tires on the hillside on the north side of the river, and as the bank erodes, they’re starting to tumble into the water. And all the plastic water bottles – it’s disheartening.
Now I want to paddle from Austin to Bastrop, about 50 miles. Anybody interested?
Besides offering shuttle services for paddlers with their own boats, Cook’s Canoes, 1004 Water Street in Webberville, rents tandem canoes and solo sit-on-top kayaks. Cost is $40 per day per canoe and $30 per day per kayak ($50 and $35, respectively, for overnight trips.) For more information call 512-276-7767 or go here.
Look for my story about the best places to paddle in Central Texas soon.