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South Llano River State Park

Date:  July 30-Aug. 1, 2010

by Joe Coker

Participants:  Joe Coker, Mike Pollard, Ken Anderson, Charles Zipprian (Sophie Lopez arranged the trip but was unable to attend)


South Llano River State Park is located just south of Junction, TX., about a five hour drive from Houston. Very pretty, typical hill country location nestled in a nice wooded area next to the South Llano River…..nice camp sites (most with water and RV hook-ups….also a number of more primitive walk-in sites), family-oriented, lots of easy hiking and biking trails through the woods, as well as some challenging mountain bike trails back in the hills. The river traverses the park and offers a variety of swimming, tubing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking options.  The weather was nice and clear and dry….a welcome respite from the dog days of summer in Houston. Temps in the low 70’s at night and up in the  90’s during the day, but didn’t feel like it with the low humidity. Very comfortable!  


There are two popular paddling runs up-stream from the park. The longest, a twelve mile run, requires a shuttle (easily arranged with local outfitters….info at Park Headquarters.) since there’s no parking at the put-in. This seems to be the most popular stretch with a combo of class I and easy class II rapids and some long, scenic  flat-water sections. However, we heard from some locals that, due to the low water conditions, it wasn’t as fun as usual. So we opted not to run it. A shorter version with a put-in about nine miles above the park offering limited parking is another option…..mostly flat water. Mike and I paddled four or five miles upstream from the park on that section Friday evening…..very pretty and serene. Lots of good fishing spots (a group from PACK, Paddling Anglers in Canoes and Kayaks, was there), but I didn’t hear of anybody catching anything keepable. Heard the area is stocked with rainbow trout in January and February.


 View upstream from the park
 Park put-in looking downstream

 Charles and his family arrived late Friday night, and I think spent most of their time on the up-stream section. Mike, Ken and I opted for the roughly 7 mile stretch down steam, putting in at the Park and taking out at Shady Grove, another nice camp site down by the dam and highway bridge. Fast, easy shuttle with ample parking.  The water was low (less than 100 cfs) so we had to get out and drag a couple times, but we found this section to be a fun run with lots of class I rapids…..a good place to practice!  Just a little more flow would convert lots of spots to class II and make it much more exciting.

 Mike and Ken running a "Big" one
 Mike and Ken Chillin'


Overall, a fun highly recommendable trip. Good family spot with all the different things to do there. Too bad it’s a bit of a hike from Houston.

 Joe Coker