The Lampasas River begins as a small stream fed by rain run-off in western Hamilton County, and then winds its way southeast through Lampasas, Burnet and Bell Counties to its confluence with the Leon River just south of Belton about 100 miles below its headwaters. The Little River is formed by the confluence of the Lampasas and Leon Rivers. A Brazos River secondary tributary, the Lampasas River above Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir is not always navigable, and usually only becomes a recreational river after significant local rainfall causes the river to rise. Below the lake, however, canoe and kayak trips can be taken almost anytime they are releasing water.
The Edwards Plateau is where the Lampasas rises and flows. It is an area of limestone bluffs, overhanging tree limbs that can pose problems for paddlers and occasionally deadfall log jams, particularly after heavy rainfall, that must be avoided. Be especially careful about riverwide log jams at bends where visibility may not be good until it is too late. One such logjam is known to exist about 8.5 miles below the FM 1670 launch, and strong currents can pose serious problems.
This reach of the Lampasas River begins off FM 1670 at Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir and continues downriver for 16.8 miles to the Leon River confluence, where the Little River is formed. Along the way the river is characterized by high, heavily vegetated, tree-lined banks, sandbar beaches and rural ranch and farmland where no significant amount of development will be found. Several roads, some of which can provide access to and from the river, cross at moderate intervals, but access can be tricky and difficult depending upon soil conditions. The river bed twists and turns in every direction, and the linear distance is much shorter than the downriver distance. Wildlife in the form of feral hogs, coyotes, cougars, raccoons, squirrels and other animals are abumndant along the Lower Lampasas River.
If you miss the last access at Dice Grove Road (just before the Leon River confluence), then your next possible take-outs are nearly 17.3 miles away at Sunshine Road / Reed Cemetery Road and nearly 27 miles away at FM 437, both on the Little River. As a consolation, there are many white sand beaches upon which you can camp overnight while making your way down to the next access.
Hamilton, Lampasas, Burnet and Bell Counties in the Texas Hill Country between Waco and Austin. Nearby towns include Hico, Halilton, Evant, Adamville, Copperas Cove, Killeen, Temple, Belton, Waco and Salado.
Waco 73 miles; Dallas 150 miles; Austin 108 miles; San Antonio 160 miles; Houston 240 miles; Oklahoma City 326 miles; Little Rock 468 miles; Kansas City 675 miles; Albuquerque 638 miles; Phoenix 1,015 miles; Denver 842 miles; Salt Lake City 1,257 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.
Water quality varies depending on the volume and agricultural run-off. Typically, if the the river is navigable, then it will be mirky and brown with silt and dirt. Water quality is generally good, though not drinkable without significant filtering or other processing.
The Lampasas River is best for canoeing and kayaking right after significant rainfall, but parts of it are navigable almost all the time other than in the summer months or during a prolonged drought period. The river is not particularly well suited for rafting due to its shallow gradient, narrow channel, sharp bends and occasional log jams.
There are no major hazards to navigation on this reach of the Lampasas River at normal to moderate flows. Obstacles may include deadfall log jams, sweepers along the banks, especially where the river makes sharp bends and similar obstacles that can usualy be easily avoided by competent paddlers. The river is very flat with no rapids or waterfalls.
FM 1670, on the SE corner below the dam, at 0.0 miles; IH 35, on the SE corner at about 2.9 miles; Old US Highway 281 Bridge (known locally as the toll road bridge) at about 3.25 miles; Elm Grove Road Bridge (steep and fenced) is an emergency only access at about 8.2 miles; FM 1123 Bridge at about 11.7 miles; Dice Grove Road Bridge (access questionable) at about 16.6 miles (last take-out before the confluence - next takeout at least 17.3 miles downriver.)
There are no known public or private campgrounds located along this reach of the Lampasas River. Many white sand beaches are available along the river for overnight camping, though the short length of this reach makes it best suited for day trips.
Salado Creek Outfitters (254-947-8239), located on Salado Creek in the Town of Salado, offers kayak rentals and sales, shuttle services, fishing licenses, guided fishing trips, gear and supplies, and other services for paddlers on this reach of the Lampasas River. There are no other known commercial outfitters serving this reach of the river.
Catching the Lampasas River below Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir with adequate water for a paddle trip is not common, but right after a major rain event in the drainage area or whenever water is being released from the lake great trips can be taken. The river flows through farm and ranch land that has not been touched by many signs of civilization other than the roads that cross the river, most of which provide access points for starting or ending a trip. While this reach is not well suited for overnight trips, it is ideal for a scenic day trip whenever there is adequate water. It is not a highly travelled river, so you probably will not encounter others on the water with you here. The river is not recommended in the hot, summer months, nor during periods of prolonged drought unless you are prepared for those conditions. It does offer plenty of shade trees, some of which may find their way into the channel to block your progress. After a major rainstorm hits the area you need to watch for deadfall log jams, especially at river bends where the natural current sweeps you into potential debris piles.
You might be fortunate enough to view a wide variety of wildlife including deer, skunks, armadillos, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, cougars, feral hogs, various songbirds and birds of prey, and the ever-present (though seldom seen) watersnakes and water moccasins. Late spring through late-fall months may also invite mosquitoes, and during the summer you will be treated to lightning bug shows at night that are awesome. This is a great place for those seeking a wilderness-type trip.