The Brazos River forms on the high, dry, salty plains of eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle and then flows southeast for 840 miles across nearly every geographical and cultural region of the Lone Star State. There are 3 major man-made reservoirs on the Brazos, all on the upper and middle portions of the river. Below each of these reservoirs are popular stretches for canoe trips. The uppermost trip, and most popular, is the 20 mile trip below Possum Kingdom lake. The next trip starts several miles below Lake Granbury, and the third trip is below Lake Whitney.
This report is for the trip that starts several miles below Lake Granbury.
The put in for this trip is where U.S Hwy 67 crosses the Brazos, about 5 miles east of Glen Rose, Texas. It is 32 miles downstream of the Decordova Bend Dam that forms Lake Granbury. It is very difficult to put in below the dam. There used to be access points upstream of Hwy. 67 but they have been fenced off by landowner. There is a private camp called Oakdales about 6 miles upstream of the 67 bridge where you may be able to put in if you arrange your own shuttle. Rhodes Canoe Rental said they might be able to shuttle me up from there but they werent sure of how much to charge or if they would even do it. So your best bet is to put in at the Hwy 67 bridge.
There are two outfitters just east of the bridge. I used Low Water Canoe Rentals. They charged me $22 for a shuttle for the 17-mile trip from the 67 bridge to the Brazos Point Crossing. They were very professional and dependable and I highly recommend them. The owner, Jack, is trying to get this stretch of river designated as a "Texas Paddling Trail". Right now his efforts are being held up by bureaucratic red tape. He also spends a lot of time trying to keep the river clean. He offers trips of various lengths.
This stretch of river is lined with limestone bluffs, ridges and hills covered with live oaks, elms, cedars, bois darcs and pecan trees. There are plentiful gravel bars to camp on. On some stretches there are freestanding rock formations out in the river. There is some kind of underground cable crossing at the half mile mark that forms a small ledge drop. At mile 2 just before you go under the county road bridge there is a small rapid where a road crossing used to be. At Mile 4 the Paluxy River and Squaw Creek come in at river right. I camped at about mile 6 at the downstream end of a long thin island which I shared with about a dozen Canada Geese. There was a nice riffles on all sides giving me some nice natural music to listen to. Big carp swam in the miniature coves of the island where the current eddied. Directly across from my campsite was a tall scenic ridge. It rained that night for the first time in that area for nearly a year. A respectable thunderstorm that lasted about an hour and dropped maybe a half in inch on some really parched land. This has been the driest year in Texas history. Despite that, the river was flowing at 350cfs. There was a gate open at the Decordova Bend Dam to provide water for downstream Texans who were suffering from the drought.
The rain passed on and the next day was bright and clear. The river is wide most of this stretch. When it gets shallow or narrows down some the current picks up quite a bit. At this flow, it was easy paddling. Headwinds were a slight problem. You get so used to them in Texas that you just accept them and dont think twice. The scenery was similar to the first day. Theres not much development you can see from the river. I did hear a gunshot at about mile 11 coming from the left bank. Too close for comfort. There is a public campground in this area called the Lake Whitney Recreation area I believe. I saw one other group of paddlers that day, two couples in two canoes doing an overnight trip.
Camped at mile 15 on a gravel bar on river right which pushed the river into a narrow channel against a high steep red dirt bluff decorated with a network of tree roots and drift wood. Wouldnt you know it another thunderstorm. This one was a real thunder and lightning frog choker that lasted a couple of hours, on and off. During one of the lulls I went swimming during a light rainfall. I spent a fair amount of time on the outside of the tent trying to keep it dry on the inside. I got soaked but in mid September in Texas the temp is in the 90s so I rather enjoyed it. The best thing was that once the storm passed I was treated to the sight of a double rainbow spanning the Brazos River.
The next morning I paddled the remaining two miles to the take out. The take out is on the left just before you get to the Brazos Point Bridge. Jack was there to pick me up right on time.
There are no major hazards on this trip. Plenty of riffles but no real rapids. Try to catch it when the dam is releasing or you may be doing more walking than paddling. This is a clean, scenic, and relaxing stretch of river a short distance from Dallas and Ft. Worth, with a dependable outfitter for rentals and/or shuttles. The off season starts around November, so try to get your trips in between March and the end of October.
Cleburne State Park and Dinosaur Valley State Park are close by.
Low Water Canoe Rentals - they have shuttles, kayaks, tubes, etc.
Shuttle for 17-mile trip was $22
From Dallas, take US Hwy 67 approximately 60 miles south to where it crosses the Brazos
USGS Topo Map Glen Rose
Texas Rivers and Rapids