Cibolo Creek Scouting Report
Cibolo Creek is a stream with which we are all familiar, but few are likely to have considered paddling it. It is usually dry where it crosses IH 35 to the north of town. On the other hand, it is marginally paddleable at IH 10 on the way to Seguin. Sometime during the early 1980's I poled and paddled my way solo a short distance up the creek from IH10 and then floated back down. I lately have begun to wonder what the creek is like farther downstream.
After the Cibolo leaves Bexar County, it flows through Wilson and Karnes Counties, eventually joining the San Antonio River. My mother lived in Wilson County as a child and recently told me she remembers her father taking her to the Cibolo to fish. In my grandfatherís eccentric fashion, he referred to it as "Sea Willow." I suppose that to derive from the Spanish pronunciation, SEE bowe lowe.
On Friday, February 8, while traveling to Corpus Christi for a Saturday meeting, I detoured to scout crossings that might be good for a paddle trip. To my surprise, I found the creek does not appreciably widen or deepen as you go downstream. Consistently throughout, however, it could be paddled in small boats by people who are willing to put up with some obstacles. Whether it is wide enough to be considered navigable in law is a close enough call that I canít be sure.
US 87 (Wilson County): This is the farthest upstream crossing I scouted. It is between Sutherland Springs and Stockdale. The flow was fast, and the depth was probably adequate. There is a fence and gate across the highway right of way at the only reasonable access point, downstream river left. There is not a "no trespassing" sign, however, and the gate was not locked. In addition, there was a homemade turnstile that seemed to be intended to obstruct livestock but not people. Apart from the fence, access to the water would be easy.
County Road 401 (Wilson County): There was a fence and a posted sign. On river right, the fence clearly blocks a significant portion of the highway right of way. The creek still had a good flow. There is an interesting, rusted, old steel bridge next to the modern, concrete one. This crossing is just west of Stockdale.
FM 537 (Wilson County): There were no fences, and access was overall excellent. It is so easy to get down to the water, there might as well be a boat ramp. The creek was unchanged. This crossing is southwest of Stockdale.
County Road 225 (Wilson County): Access here was also good. There were no obstructing fences, and the flow remained about the same. There is an old low water bridge just above the new steel one. The low water bridge is washed out to river right. This crossing is more or less west of Denhawken.
FM 541 (Wilson County): Fences cut across the highway right of way to the bridge. The creek was unchanged. Just below the current bridge, there is an older, lower one. It has caught logs and other debris and would be a hazard in high water. In low water, it would just be a portage. This crossing is just west of Kosciusko.
FM 887 (Karnes County): Access here is good. The creek appears unchanged. This crossing is near Pawelekville.
State Highway 123 (Karnes County): Access would be difficult. There are a fence and a "no trespassing" sign at the only likely corner. The bridge has a flow gauge. This crossing is at Cestohowa. The creek is about the same.
County Road 389 (Karnes County): The road is minimally improved dirt. The crossing is closer to a ford than a low water bridge, so access is excellent. Again the creek is about the same. This crossing is also near Cestohowa.
FM 2724 (Karnes County): Access is very good. The creek is unchanged. This is relatively near Panna Maria.
FM 81 (Karnes County): Access is good. The creek is unchanged. This too is near Panna Maria. Shortly after this, the Cibolo empties into the San Antonio River in a triangle formed by Panna Maria, Karnes City, and Helena.
If you are wondering where to get maps that show all the remote county roads, go to http://txdot.lib.utexas.edu/. It is a wonderful resource.
Assuming it is wide enough to be legal, the Cibolo would offer an interesting and close-by trip for someone not afraid to deal with log jams and shallow spots. There would definitely be at least a little walking. If I were paddling it, I would pick a relatively short exploratory stretch before committing to anything more ambitious.