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San Antonio River, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

San Antonio River
Loop 1604 to US Highway 97 (Floresville)
~ 48 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

Forming within the city limits of San Antonio, the San Antonio River flows about 236 miles to its Guadalupe River confluence near the Town of Tivoli. The upper reach of about 48 miles begins at the headwaters and flows southeast down to Floresville. Unfortunately, recreational paddling within the San Antonio city limits is prohibited, and the river is commercialized for the Riverwalk, motorized gondolas and paddleboats that serve the tourism industry in the Alamo City. The actual riverbed has been diverted and channelized to provide the concrete path the waters of the river take through downtown San Antonio. The river is fed by inflow from the Medina River and numerous smaller creeks and streams in the southern Hill Country area of Central Texas.

The river is primarily a coastal, flatwater river without significant rapids or waterfall drops. While usually having adequate water for paddling canoes and kayaks, the river is characterized by high, steep, often muddy banks that make ingress and egress difficult. Numerous crossing roads afford plenty of access points for those wanting to avail themselves of paddling opportunities when other regional rivers are too low. Log jams are always a possible impediment, and paddlers should be aware of them, as well as the possibility of snakes that nest in tree and brush debris piles, though they are not known to present any significant problems for careful paddlers.


Bexar and Wilson Counties, starting in San Antonio and ending at Floresville about 48 miles to the southeast. Most of this reach flows through generally remote and undeveloped land, though San Antonio is starting to expand to the south.

Distance from major cities

Dallas miles; Austin miles; San Antonio 5 miles; Houston miles; Oklahoma City miles; Little Rock miles; Kansas City miles; Albuquerque miles; Phoenix miles; Denver miles; Salt Lake City miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination to the put-in at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is generally good to very good, though some pollution may occasionally occur from urban run-off. Flow is almost always adequate for paddling lightly loaded canoes and kayaks, though the river will tend to run very low during hot summer months or periods of prolonged drought.

Best Times to Go

Weather and flow conditions permitting, the best times to paddle this reach of the San Antonio River are from mid-fall through late spring. Summers will be very hot and humid, with little shade from the South Texas sun.

Hazards to Navigation

Log jams and brush debris piles are the primary hazards to navigation along this reach of the San Antonio River. There are no rapids or waterfalls of any consequence with which to contend. During summer months the heat and humidity should be considered hazards to teh human body, though not necessarily to navigation.

River Access Points

(All points start south of Loop 410 and the San Antonio city limit) Blue Wing Road, between US Highway 181 and FM 1937; Below the IH 37 bridge just west of Elmendorf; Loop 1604 bridge just south of Elmendorf; Wilson County Road 125FM 3444 bridge just south of Calaveras; Wilson County Road 120 just southeast of Calaveras; Wilson County Road 177 just northwest of Floresville; FM 536 bridge in Floresville; and SH 97 in Floresville at about 48.0 miles. Other access points may be available.

Campgrounds and Accommodations

There are no known public or private canpgrounds, or other accommodations, available along this reach of the San Antonio River. Most property is privately owned, and camping should only be done after obtaining landowner permission.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known liveries, outfitters or shuttle services operating along this reach of the San Antonio River. Bring everything you need and arrange your own shuttles. Due to the very remote nature of this run leave no valuables in cars.

Reviewer's comments

The San Antonio River within the city limits of the Alamo City would be excellent for paddling if not prohibited by city ordnances against recreational boating. Below the city limits, starting at Loop 1604 and going toward Floresville, the river is a remote trip on slow-moving water. Scenery is not particularly "postcard quality" and log jams or brush piles may occasionally necessitate portages or delays in getting downriver. There are numerous access points, so trips of various lengths can be taken. Being fed by springs within the city limits of San Antonio, the river usually has adequate water for canoeing and kayaking, though droughts or summer months may reduce the amount and flow. Efforts by the Alamo City Rivermen and numerous other paddling clubs and organiations are being made to enhance the quality of the river as a navigable stream from San Antonio down through Goliad below Floresville where this reach ends. The San Antonio River may have adequate flow for trips when other rivers around it are too low to paddle.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to I+
Length 48 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Loop 1604 South
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out US Hwy 97 at Floresville
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web:
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No

Dallas Down River Club - Promoting paddlesports,  safety and environmental protection

Alamo City Rivermen - Paddling the fine line between geek and bubba

Austin Paddling Club - Just for the fun of it!

Bigfoot Canoes - Your outfitter for canoe, kayak, raft and tube rentals on the beautiful Upper Guadalupe River

Houston Canoe Club

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Constance Whiston, Flyfishing

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the San Antonio River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

[ San Antonio River Homepage ] [ Floresville to Hobson ] [ Hobson to Duke Bridge Road ] [ Duke Bridge Road to Guadalupe River confluence ]
[ Medina River ] [ Cibolo Creek ]

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Last updated December 30, 2014

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