San Antonio River, near Falls City

On Saturday, June 16, 2001, several members of the Alamo City Rivermen accompanied staff from the San Antonio River Authority on a short paddle on the San Antonio River near Falls City, Texas.

We put in at FM 791 upstream from Falls City and took out at US 181 just on the southern outskirts of the town. The trip is 6 to 8 miles. The banks are overgrown and steep at both the put-in and take-out. If the weather were wet, getting up and down the banks might be very difficult.

The river consists of long slow pools backed up behind rapids and falls, Falls City being aptly named. At several points, the river splits forming islands. We generally encountered rapids passing the islands. The first obstruction to the river flow is Mays Crossing, which comes up shortly after the put-in. Bedrock comes up to near the riverís surface. Depending on the water level, you might have to drag yourself over this and other similar features. My 17 foot Grumman hung up on this crossing.

Not too far after Mays Crossing comes Conquista Crossing. It consists of several rapids extending over a period of 100 or more yards in another area of exposed bedrock. I hung up here, too, but not as severely as at Mays.

Approximately half way through the trip comes Skiles Falls. It is a genuine vertical drop of 5 or 6 feet. We easily found a place to lower our canoes with a minimal portage. We were cheered on by locals enjoying the view and brew.

The only remaining obstruction of note is a series of small falls within a miles or so of the take-out. The river splits at an island. To river right, there is a series of falls maybe two feet in height. To river left, the gradient is more gradual. I went over only one drop of a foot or so. After squeezing under a fallen tree, I came out in the clear downstream of the island.

The rapids are all easy. I have no particular whitewater skills, and I did not capsize on any of them. The only person who did capsize was very inexperienced and did so on the last described rapid, which did require minimal maneuvering.

It was a beautiful and peaceful trip on an underused stream in our area. The San Antonio River Authority personnel were taking video for a presentation proposing developing the river better for paddlers. The long stretches of flat water require more paddling than you might expect, but that and the need to drag oneís canoe up a steep bank at the take-out are the only draw backs to the trip.

Ken Bennight
San Antonio, Texas