Crabapple Creek, Texas, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||52 fpm|
|Max Gradient||100 fpm|
|-||200 - 500 cfs||IV+||cfs|
Why Crabapple Gorge is such a rare prize is that it cuts through the Llano Uplift, a vein of pink granite that runs roughly from Burnet to Fredericksburg. Thus, the creek is very reminiscent of steep creeks in Colorado. It is the steepest whitewater creek in the state, with an average gradient of 52'/mi. One mile of it has a gradient of 70'/mile and another has a gradient of 100'/mile.
Crabapple Creek has been described as a "Class IV Creek with Class VI landowners." Multiple studies, including this one that was perhaps the first to use GIS technology to measure the width of Crabapple Creek, have concluded that the creek meets the requirements for statutory navigability in Texas. However, some of the landowners along the creek are bitterly opposed to boaters, and the local law is on their side. The landowner at the takeout, in particular, will call the sheriff if he sees anyone hanging around the low-water crossing on F.M. 965, especially if it looks like you're a boater.
There have only been a handful of successful runs of Crabapple Gorge, in part because it doesn't run very frequently and in part because of landowner encounters. On a couple of occasions, boaters attempting to paddle the gorge encountered the sheriff or game warden when attempting to take out or hike out, and citations were issued. In one case, boaters were detained near the put-in by landowners wielding high-powered rifles, until the game warden showed up. In that case, the boaters were cited, and they met with the prosecutor and presented their evidence, but the matter never went to court. Among boaters, it is widely believed that the landowners do not want the matter to go to court for fear that it would not be decided in their favor.
Beta from paddlers indicates that there are at least 10 game fences that span the creek at various points.
There is no gauge on Crabapple Creek. Use the LCRA Hydromet for Sandy Creek at Willow City as a proxy (Sandy Creek and Crabapple Creek are parallel drainages.) 300 on the Willow City gauge means that there will be about 200 cfs in Crabapple Gorge, but note that the gauge is 14 miles away, so visual scouting is recommended. If the water is barely over the road at the put-in, it's good. If the low-water crossing at the put-in looks sketchy to drive a car across, it's great.
For more information, see Texas Whitewater 2nd Edition.