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Difficulty I-II
Length 5.5 Miles
Gauge San Marcos Below Blanco Confluence
Flow Range 200 - 1000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 23 minutes ago 149 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/06/2018 10:26 pm

River Description


This section is a great run for whitewater beginners.  It generally has more rapids than the upper stretch, although none of the rapids are difficult.  There is a large stretch of flat water above Martindale Dam.  Because the San Marcos River is spring-fed, it tends to be one of the few rivers that is runnable during periods of drought.  The river can be run below 200 cfs, but it tends to be scrapey.

Distances and gradient measured using GIS tools in 2015.

WARNING:  Sieve Hazard at Cottonseed

In 2008, gravel washed out from under part of the former concrete dam structure at river left, causing water to rush underneath it and create a potentially deadly sieve.  Paddlers report, as of early 2018, that the sieve is still active when the river is running relatively low.  Stay right to avoid it.  Do not swim into the river left eddy ("Suburban eddy") above the dam.

 

Rapid Descriptions

CR 101/Old Bastrop Road Bridge (Westerfield Crossing)

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Limited parking is available along the road easement on the river left upstream side of the bridge.

San Marcos River Retreat

Class - N/A Mile - 0.64
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

To avoid the parking hassles at Westerfield Crossing, many paddlers use San Marcos River Retreat (a private campground at river left) as an alternate put-in for this run.  A small fee is required.  Note also that San Marcos River Retreat does not allow alcohol on its premises.

Old Mill

Class - II Mile - 0.76
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Class II- rapid created by the remnants of a broken dam and mill structure.  At 250-400 cfs, this is a good place to work on attainments (it should be possible to attain the entire rapid.)

Broken Bone

Class - II Mile - 1.82
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

The river turns right, then narrows as it turns left again.  This rapid tends to form a surfable wave at low-to-moderate flows (generally below 350 cfs) and a wave train at higher flows.

Cottonseed

Class - II Mile - 3.27
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

An old mill dam was blown up in the 1940's, leaving concrete slabs and rocks in the river that create a rapid of some consequence for beginners and recreational boaters (primarily due to the sieve described below.)  Stay right.  The rapid can be portaged at river right.

At lower flows (< 300 cfs), Cottonseed forms a surfable wave at river center.  At 700-800 cfs, a surfable wave is reportedly formed by water flowing over the concrete wall at river left.

WARNING:  Sieve Hazard at Cottonseed

In 2008, gravel washed out from under part of the former concrete dam structure at river left, causing water to rush underneath it and create a potentially deadly sieve.  Paddlers report, as of early 2018, that the sieve is still active when the river is running relatively low.  Stay right to avoid it.  Do not swim into the river left eddy ("Suburban eddy") above the dam.

 

CR 246/Scull Rd Bridge (Scull's Crossing)

Class - N/A Mile - 3.74
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Low bridge may pose a hazard at higher flows (portage at river right if necessary.)  Parking is available up the hill at river left along the CR 103 easement (at the intersection of CR 103 and Skull Rd.)

Many whitewater boaters choose to take out here to avoid the one mile of flat water above Martindale Dam.

Take out on the gravel bar at river right upstream of the road.  This takeout is on a spit of land that is part of the natural riverbed (after the Halloween 2015 Flood, the river even sought a new course on the other side of that spit of land, washing out Sculls Rd in the process.)  However, the landowners at river right have, in the past, claimed that boaters were trespassing on their property by taking out here.  They previously erected a barbed wire fence that intruded upon the right-of-way of the public road, making it difficult to take out.  This fence is now gone, due to the 2015 floods, but in general, do not linger here, and do not engage the landowners if they attempt to harass you.

Martindale Dam

Class - N/A Mile - 4.85
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A sloping dam that can generally be run near the center by whitewater paddlers.  A portage trail exists on river right.

NOTE:  Do not hang out on the dam structure.  Either run it or portage it, then keep paddling.  The cops will show up if you linger here for too long.

Martindale Dam is reported to take on a Class IV character at high flows (thousands of cfs), forming a "stopper wave" that can hold a boat but which is not, despite appearances, terminal.  Mistaking the stopper wave for a terminal hydraulic led, indirectly, to the death of an experienced paddler via a failed rescue in 1992.

CR 262/Deviney Rd Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 4.94
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Low bridge could pose a hazard at higher flows.

FM 1979 Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 5.53
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Public parking and access is available at river left via a dirt pull-out under the bridge.

 

Shady Grove Campground

Class - N/A Mile - 5.57
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Many paddlers use Shady Grove Campground (a private campground at river right, just downstream of the bridge) as an alternate takeout for this run.  A small fee is required.

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Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
1992-01-03 High Fatality Solo Paddling Read More

Alerts

   

News

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County to Vote to Extend Closure on Guadalupe Tonight (TX)

7/11/2002
Jason Robertson

The Comal County Commissioner's Court is taking measures that will restrict access to the Guadalupe River indefinitely. AW's primary objective on the Guadalupe is to restore access as soon as possible and to make sure that boater access does not impede on-going rescue and recovery efforts.
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Matt Muir

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DRC

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1194723 11/23/08 n/a n/a
1204988 07/10/15 DRC
1204991 07/10/15 DRC
1204992 07/10/15 DRC
1205154 07/31/15 DRC
1205153 07/31/15 DRC
1205628 12/14/15 DRC
1205809 01/11/16 DRC
1208691 01/06/18 DRC
1208609 12/22/17 DRC