Cibolo Creek

When wandering afar looking for good paddling, consider what is near, if unfamiliar. Most San Antonians know Cibolo Creek at the IH 35 crossing on the way north to Austin. It is wide, rocky, and generally dry. But Cibolo Creek picks up water as it meanders south, eventually joining the San Antonio River between Karnes City and Helena.

Many years ago I put my canoe in at the IH 10 crossing on the way to Seguin and paddled upstream for a short way. I remember it as pleasant enough, but itís been too long to recall the details. Based on that memory, I recently drove out that way again and put in my boat at the Ulrich Road crossing. You can reach Ulrich Road by taking exit 593 off IH 10 and driving south on Trainer Hale Road (FM 2538). Zuehl is in the area, and I drove past the flying community while exploring.

Ulrich crossing is a low water bridge, with a small place to park on the Guadalupe County side (river left). I used my long neglected pole to work upstream. The current was weak, so the going was easy despite my lack of facility with the pole. I could have as easily paddled upstream.

A long pool extends upstream from the crossing, and it quickly became too deep to use the pole to push off the bottom. Fortunately, poles can be used as kayak paddles from a standing position. I windmilled up the creek.

Like most streams in our area, Cibolo Creek alternates between long pools and narrow spots with faster water. The pools show little current and some are covered in duckweed, which is often sold as an aquarium plant. I encountered an occasional log blocking the creek, and I generally had to get out and drag at the fast water. Of course, I was in my 17 foot aluminum canoe. A smaller boat would be better for such a stream.

I could find only two Cibolo stream gauges online. One is at Selma, which is useless, because it will show the creek dry under normal conditions. The second is at Falls City, which is quite a way downstream, but is the best available. It showed 104 CFS the day I paddled.

Cibolo Creek is beautiful. Its banks are lush and wildlife is plentiful. I saw two water snakes, which I do not believe were moccasins, but I steered clear out of caution. I was surprised both at how little litter I encountered, less than I often see on the upper Guadalupe, and how few other indications of human activity were apparent, mostly a few droplines. I saw no buildings at all. Because I had started late in the day, I traveled only a little more than a mile upstream, but it was an enjoyable experience. Someone who knows how to use a pole would have enjoyed playing in some of the narrow spots with tight water. I did not push my luck on tipping over.

Because the stream is small, it is probably not suitable for large groups. It does require dealing with occasional downed logs and dragging at tight spots. Even so, it is a delightful stream close to home and should not be overlooked.

Ken Bennight
San Antonio, Texas