If you are looking for an overnight float on a lazy river this trip is for you.
My 15yo son and I have been on some class 3 rivers in a canoe before but we had never experienced a canoe camping trip. This was a good way to start.
I started planning the trip 3 months early. I started by contacting Mr. Cook of Cook's Canoes and he gave me some helpful advice about preparing for the cold weather and rain and he recommended a five mile run from the little Weberville park, which is conveniently next to Mr. Cooks shop, to the Big Weberville park which is what we did.
Our vessel was a 16 foot canoe we carried 2 small tents, 2 sleeping bags in 5 gal buckets with lids, 2 chairs, 2 personal bags, a bag with cooking stuff including a single burner propane stove, a medium bag of charcoal, a cooking grate, an Ice chest, a pantry bag, a lantern, 2 ground sleeping mats 2 paddles (oops! forgot the extra paddle) and 2 life preservers.
Never having done this before, I made sure to tie everything in. I even made a diagram to repeat the process for future trips.
Once everything was in the boat we were ready to go, just shoving off was exciting. I guess it was the not knowing what to expect that made it exciting. The day was perfect the sun was shining the air was cool and the wind was at our backs.
The water quality was great! Visibility in moving water was about a foot. In still water you could see the bottom 4 to 6 feet. It was nice to be outdoors.
Although there are lots of evergreens, there was just enough coloring trees to make it feel like fall. There was plenty of wildlife. We saw mostly the feathered kind.
We arrived at "Cook's Island" about an hour later. We took the fork to the right like Mr. Cook suggested, the fork to the left was to low to paddle, it started with a right turn we went down some nice rapids and had to cut quickly to the left where the river opened up into a nice pool.
Continuing on we curved to the right and went down another set of mild but fun rapids and settled again into another pool. Up ahead there was a makeshift sign on the right bank that said "camping" put there by Mr. Cook. We docked there and climbed the hill and there was home. We then paddled down river a short way and made our way to the other side of the island where the land slopped gently and it was easier to carry our gear to the sight.
The sight was wonderful! The Island is about 2 acres big and had many large old trees. The area that Mr. Cook has cleared is under a tall canopy of trees with four distinct levels to pitch tents. You will find two cooking grates on the ground and a barrel grill. There is also a potty chair available. We arrived at about noon.
After setting up camp, we gathered wood (which is abundant there) and prepared for dinner. We had cold cut sandwiches for lunch and cheeseburgers, potato chips, and pork 'n beans for dinner. Later that night as it got colder, we had hot cider, coco and Jiffy pop popcorn. It was great!
We turned in about 1 am, and that ends the first Day.
Next morning, day 2, I awoke to a 3 inch lime green caterpillar in my tent, I guess I left my tent open at some point. It was a cold morning, so I started a fire and made some coffee. I let my son sleep in. I took a hike around the island and went sight seeing. The morning was beautiful -- the fog was lifting off the still water. It was so still it looked like glass. My son awoke; I fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast, we cleaned house then we paddled around the island, just to do the rapids again.
On our way back, much to our surprise, we saw a school of catfish (about 12 to 15) from 8 inch long to 14 inches long. Man I wish I had brought some fishing gear!
We packed up about 3 pm and floated to our take out about an hour and a half. Mr. Cook picked us up in ten minutes I gave him $10 buck like he requested and we were home in Round Rock by 6pm. That ends the second day.
I can't wait to do it again. Thanks Mr. Cook!
Cook's canoes is next to the park. A convenience store is around the corner. There is a city park with picnic tables and grills at the put-in and the take-out.
16 foot cruising canoe
Cook rents canoes and kyaks and shuttles for $30
From 183 in Austin, TX, take 969 go 22 miles to Weberville, to the small park.
The purple "Rivers and Rapids" book for Texas also features Arkansas and Oklahoma rivers.