Bull Creek, Texas, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||34 fpm|
|Bull Ck at Loop 360 nr Austin, TX|
|usgs-08154700||200 - 1250 cfs||II-III||00h16m||0.27 cfs (too low)|
Bull Creek rarely runs except during runoff events following a heavy rain, so it tends to flash and drop quickly, and the water quality is generally poor. During these runoff events, there is often a pervasive smell of ammonia due to sewage treatment plants upstream (treatment plants are designed around typical influent, so they are often incapable of fully treating the increased influent from a heavy rain.) During particularly wet years, the creek can sustain a clean and barely runnable base flow due to spring activity.
Bull Creek's main attractions are its scenery (it passes through the Bull Creek Greenbelt, Forest Ridge Preserve, and Bull Creek District Park) and the relatively continuous nature of its rapids. The rapids are mostly straightforward Class II's and II+'s, although there is one Class III drop (BORES, short for "Big One, RElatively Speaking") that can be run as a park 'n' huck. Some parts of the run have major strainers from vegetation that can sometimes span the entire river.
Texas Whitewater describes "grabby ledges, strong hydraulics, and groves of small trees in the streambed" in the last 1/2 mile (below the 3rd crossing of Loop 360), as well as "some of the best side surfing" in this same stretch. As the creek does not get run very often, current beta on this is unknown.
Distances and gradient measured using GIS tools in 2015.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Spicewood Springs Road Low-Water Crossing||N/A|
|0.7||Loop 360, 1st Crossing||N/A|
|0.7||Old Spicewood Springs Road (Low-Water Crossing)||N/A|
|1.5||Loop 360, 2nd Crossing||N/A|
|2.2||Loop 360, 3rd Crossing||N/A|
|2.7||Lakewood Drive Bridge||N/A|
|3.3||RM 2222 Bridge||N/A|
If the creek is worth running, then this crossing will probably be closed. Coming from 360, parking is available in the grass on the right-hand side of the road before the crossing (this is public land.)
Beta from paddlers suggests that a hike may now be required in order to reach this put-in, since the City of Austin has, during heavy rains, apparently begun closing off Spicewood Springs Rd. some distance away from the crossing.
Always be extra vigilant around low-water crossings. This crossing is completely submerged at high flows, but portage if it looks even the slightest bit sketchy. Limited parking is available at river right, below the crossing.
Always be extra vigilant around low-water crossings. This crossing is completely submerged at high flows, but portage if it looks even the slightest bit sketchy. Parking is available at river right in the Bull Creek Greenbelt parking lot.
Short for "Big One, RElatively Speaking", BORES is the only Class III rapid on Bull Creek. Access is available for park 'n' huck via a public parking lot off of Lakewood Dr. near 360.
BORES is created by a V-shaped limestone ledge. At high flows, water flows over both sides of the V and creates a large plume in the notch. Texas Whitewater describes an undercut at river right that "looks nastier than it is. Unless a tree is wedged in it, bodies and boats generally wash through." There is a sneak line at river left.
There is 1/8 mile of flat water below the rapid, so a failed roll or a swim here is probably not going to be consequential.
Public parking is available at river right, above the bridge (this is part of Bull Creek District Park.)
This bridge (which was rebuilt in 2011) is known to pose a serious sieve/splat hazard when the creek is at a good level for whitewater boating. Previously, this was a low-water crossing, and the water flowed right over it, but now the bridge is similar in nature to the Guadalupe River bridge at Gruene.
There appears to be a building and a parking area at river right below the bridge, but it is unknown whether this is public or private land. The safest bet is to park in the shopping center at the corner of 360 and 2222 and take out at river right before the bridge. Below the bridge, the creek becomes part of Lake Austin.