Goliad Canoe Trail
San Antonio River
The Alamo City Rivermen have long actively supported developing the San Antonio River for paddling opportunities. Current plans now in motion for restoring the river in the southern Mission Trails area envision providing canoe or kayak accessible stretches within the City limits, a revolutionary idea for this part of South Texas. Now, for the past year, at the invitation of the San Antonio River Authority, we have been working with a committee of local community leaders lead by John Barnhart that support the creation of a river trail in Goliad County, and improved access points to make that happen. The river channel passes right next to the town square, and can link the town and other points with Goliad State Park being either a point of put-in or exit. We have presented concept sketches of what an ideal canoe launch for this river would be, constructed to allow only paddle powered craft to be placed in the water.
To help the local folks see just what a resource they had, Saturday, November 15 the Alamo City Rivermen Canoe Club played host to the Goliad River Trail Committee, board members and staff of SARA, TPWD including the park superintendent, and others in a short day float along the river. Leah Huth, the superintendent, actually put in a decked takeout at the park and provided temp safety ropes and steps at the Highway 59 put in. We had about 24 boats and 50 canoers, most of us showing up with empty front seats so we could take our guests as boating partners. We had boaters from San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi and San Marcos, to show how a caone trail could be of statewide interest. There was good camaraderie all around.
We put in at the Hwy 59 crossing just above the town. The overall float from there to the park was about 6 ½ miles. The river is very pretty, much like the lower San Marcos, pretty heavily treed, mostly hardwoods with a few surprising cypress in a deep channel. In places there are surprising rock outcroppings and cliffs, and the typical birdlife is seen. A few honking large alligator gars were also encountered. And basically, all natural, very few if any structures of any sort can be seen from the river.
The flow rate was approximately 500 cfs, so it moved a pretty good clip, not muddy at all, typical Texas green water.. This river always flows, even in summer. There were no logjams or obstructions of any kind. Definitely a good flat water trip suitable for novices.
We stopped at Martinez creek on a low rock outcrop and had lunch. The River Authority broke out a veritable buffet line of sandwiches, chips, fruit, cookies and drink, we ate until we were all full. Thanks to Claude Harding and Dale Bransford for the support. Resuming the float, we passed what is know locally as Ferry street crossing, where the stumps of and old wood crossing bridge still protrude from the water. Before that, it was an historic ferry site. It is a right of way about a hundred yards long that feeds right into the town square, and a potential future canoe launch point. Possibly, you could do a float and go in town to eat. Just for us the Commissioners actually cleared the right of way so we could see how it would work. Finally, down to the state park, where a brand new platform and bank cut had been built where you could take out a boat (it was all high banks before). One local guest said that she had lived all her life in Goliad, had never been down the river and never new how beautiful the river really was.
That night, a bunch of us camped out at the Park and went in town to eat, boats on top of our vehicles, to support the local economy and our hungry appetites. We might have broken the kitchen down with all our orders. Goliad has an incredible hike/bike trail with a boardwalk overhanging the river bank from the State Park into town. We walked (gasp) into town for breakfast. Goliad is an undiscovered gem, tons of history and charm, and well worth a visit. Longer river trips are possible: from Rockdale above where we put-in is a 15 mile trip, and there is even a longer stretch down if you put-in at the park. At some point before the junction with the Guadalupe, there are rumors of a tremendous log jam, but our float was pretty well cleaned out by the recent floods. Some safari boaters among us thought it made a good alternative to training on the same old runs on the San Marcos. This is a good trip if you want an easy float weekend getaway or a training run, especially in Fall through Spring.
This river is ideal for a canoe trail, as the high banks keep it well isolated and would discourage public/private interactions. In conjunction with the hike/bike trail already established, it would make another activity for visitors or families visting the park or the Goliad area. While this concept has a long way to go, both in local support and funding, it was refreshing to see the excitement of the local committee members and the coalition of support building. We may do this trip again next year to check out the Rockdale stretch, so if you would like to join us, let us know.
San Antonio, Texas
(Editors Note: Randy humbly says "we" have presented concept sketches of what an ideal canoe launch for this river would be. Of course, it is Randy who conceived of and prepared the sketches. We all owe him our gratitude.)