Barton Creek - 1. SH 71 to Lost Creek (12 miles)

Barton Creek, Texas, US


1. SH 71 to Lost Creek (12 miles)

Usual Difficulty II+ (for normal flows)
Length 12 Miles
Avg. Gradient 13 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Barton Ck at SH 71 nr Oak Hill, TX
usgs-08155200 150 - 10000 cfs II+ 01h04m 90.4 cfs (too low)
Barton Ck at Lost Ck Blvd nr Austin, TX
usgs-08155240 200 - 10000 cfs II+ 00h20m 135 cfs (too low)

River Description

This section of Barton Creek is very scenic, is surprisingly continuous (very little flat water), and is generally runnable at lower flows than the sections below Lost Creek.  With the exception of the dams and other man-made obstacles (all of which are described below), the rapids are all Class II.  However, if there has not been a flood recently, the natural rapids will likely become clogged with saplings and strainers and may require some Class II+/III- moves to avoid these.  This stretch of the creek is also notorious for downed trees, some of which can create river-wide must-portage hazards, so be vigilant.  The banks are all private property, so there is no way to shorten the run.

Distances and gradient measured using GIS tools in 2015.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-05-17 02:38:52


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0State Highway 71 BridgeN/APutin
1.1Low-Water CrossingN/A
4.4Low-Head Dam/Low-Water CrossingN/AHazard
9.3Barton Creek Blvd. High BridgeN/A
9.6Car Dealer Dam/Low-Water CrossingII
10.6Low-Water CrossingN/A
11.5Foot Bridge/Low-Water CrossingN/APortage Hazard
11.8Bend of the River Dr. Low-Water CrossingN/ATakeout Portage Hazard

Rapid Descriptions

State Highway 71 Bridge (Class N/A)

Very limited parking is available on the river right downstream (southeast) side of the bridge, by accessing the highway easement via a turnout located near the end of the bridge guardrails.  If you are heading toward Bee Cave, this turnout will be on the right before you cross the bridge.  Despite being a high bridge, the abutment is gently sloped and can be used as a ramp for accessing the creek below.

Low-Water Crossing (Class N/A, Mile 1.1)

Diagonal dam/low-water crossing creates a mild hydraulic at low runnable flows (behavior at higher flows is unknown.)  It can be run at river left if there is sufficient water.  A manky creek line exists at river right, although it can frequently become clogged with debris, and its runnability is unknown.  Scout & portage on river left.

Low-Head Dam/Low-Water Crossing (Class N/A, Mile 4.4)

This dam/low-water crossing creates a significant drop, and the downstream side of it is effectively undercut due to the culverts that run through the dam.  Thus, it creates a significant recirculating hydraulic when the water is high enough to overtop the dam (which is known to be the case at low runnable flows.  Behavior at high flows is unknown.)  Can be boofed at river left by experienced whitewater paddlers.  Scout & portage on river left.

Barton Creek Blvd. High Bridge (Class N/A, Mile 9.3)

Reference point (no access.)

Trivia: this bridge, which was built in 1986, is the only single-girder fin-back bridge in the U.S.

Car Dealer Dam/Low-Water Crossing (Class II, Mile 9.6)

Remnants of a broken dam (formerly called "Car Dealer Dam") create a straightforward rapid.  The low-water crossing just downstream of the old dam should be fully submerged-- and thus should not present a hazard-- at all runnable levels, but always use caution around low-water crossings. Scout & portage on river left if necessary.

Low-Water Crossing (Class N/A, Mile 10.6)

Should be runnable by whitewater paddlers, but always use caution around low-water crossings.  This particular one has a portruding pipe that must be avoided.  Scout & portage on river left.

Foot Bridge/Low-Water Crossing (Class N/A, Mile 11.5)

Cart crossing for the Lost Creek Country Club.  The low-water crossing is known to be a must-portage sieve hazard at low runnable flows, and the foot bridge likely creates a hazard at higher flows.  Portage river left.

Bend of the River Dr. Low-Water Crossing (Class N/A, Mile 11.8)

This low-water crossing (the former route of Lost Creek Blvd., before they built the high bridge) has numerous narrow pipes, so it is frequently clogged with debris and creates a sieve at low flows, and it creates a deadly recirculating hydraulic at high flows.  Portage/take out at river left.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 16 2016 (978 days ago)
dcommander (152142)
Barton Creek from 71 to Lost Creek Blvd. currently has a great deal of strainers and some
river-wide downed trees. In at least one case, at around Mile 4 or 5, the tree was blocking the
entire channel halfway through a rapid, and it could not be seen from upriver. It was necessary to
catch a micro-eddy on the fly in order to portage around the tree. In another case, the tree was
blocking the main channel through a split rapid, and it was necessary to scrape through the other
channel to avoid it. Experienced whitewater boaters should have no problem with these obstacles,
but beginners definitely will. Use caution.
February 14 2010 (3261 days ago)
Jasonpmann (151485)
Be sure not to try and put in or take out at Crystal River Dr. The landowners will call the cops.
August 7 2007 (4183 days ago)
Jeff HousealDetails
I love this run of the creek. The most rapids by far. Maybe not as big as the other parts but well
worth it. 12miles is perfect for a good day trip. Fastest we ran it and we were not trying was
4.5hrs, lots of breaks. Most senic part too