The North Bosque River runs from Stephenville into Lake Waco, estimated at around 90 miles. We traveled by canoe from Valley Mills to China Spring, about 12 miles by river and about 8 hours with time to fish and hunt arrowheads on the river banks. Few houses can be seen and most of the river is likely unchanged from how it looked a hundred years ago with several springs flowing as waterfalls into the river. We saw some beautiful cliffs and overhangs with hundreds of mud swallow nests.
When the river is running well it tends to be somewhat muddy, with decent fishing for catfish and some bass too as you get closer to the lake. I brought my 14 year old son and my two friends from Sweden, who were thrilled with the scenery, including some red-tailed hawks, blue herons, kingfishers, whooping cranes, trees full of buzzards, schools of carp, gar, and catfish. The Vikings were not too brave when we encountered a couple of shy water moccasins. One was thrilled to catch a 9 lb. gaspergoo on a spinner, and somewhat of a curiosity for the species to take a lure. Their favorite part was finding a very nice arrowhead on a gravel bar. My son also found some nice artifacts and fossils like ammonites and sea urchins. Crude flint scrapers are everywhere, most likely from the Huaco Indians.
There is a 4 foot waterfall 2/3 of the way along that had to be carefully negotiated. There were some long stretches where the river drops quickly and some class 2 rapids, which is rare for the time of year.
If you have all day, or if the river is running high, you can travel all the way to the North end of Lake Waco and take out at Eichelberger Road, just off of Baylor Camp Road and Hwy. 185. The last few miles are still and backed up from the recent lake level raise, but the bass fishing is worth it for fishermen.
This was my first trip down this section of the river. Keeping the camera dry was a concern. Next time I will bring the kayak with dry storage and the camera and submit photos of the beautiful scenery.
No accommodations. You could camp on several of the large gravel beds or caves along the way.
No permits required.
In Valley Mills, Turn off Hwy 6 and go North on Hwy 56 towards Laguna Park, about one half mile where 56 crosses the river. Park on the east side along the road before you cross and there is an easy put below the bridge. You will need to have a second vehicle downstream.
The best place to take out is at Cooper's Crossing (which no longer crosses the river) on the South side (right side of the river as you head down towards Waco). You get to Coopers by turning onto Markum Ranch Road, about 6 miles West of Hwy. 185 (Crawford Hwy.). Follow Markum Ranch Road until it dead ends at the river.
A good USGS map is always helpful.