The Ultimate Guide to Kayaking in Texas Hill Country
Let your mind relax as you dip your paddle into crystal clear water and push yourself forward into the beautiful scenery of Texas Hill Country. The rivers, lakes, and spring-fed watering holes are calling your name for a restorative weekend getaway.
Even though you might live in San Antonio or Austin, it’s easy to forget about the hidden gems that exist just within a short drive from your house. However, nothing is more refreshing for the soul than immersing yourself in nature. Driving a short distance rather than hopping on a plane is simply an additional perk.
If you find yourself drawn to water activities, you won’t run out of beautiful spots to explore in Hill Country. Even if you don’t have your own kayak, you can still experience the feeling of gliding on top of the many bodies of water around you. Several rental shops exist near many of the major rivers and lakes.
If you are ready to take a breath of fresh air, glide across the waters of Hill Country, and put your mind and body at ease, keep reading for all the information you need on kayaking in Hill Country.
Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake offers a serene escape on the outskirts of one of Texas’s busiest cities. It was named after Former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson due to her impressive work cleaning up the shores of this lake. Although the water quality of the lake does not permit proper swimming conditions, it is an extremely popular spot for kayaking.
As you push off the shore in your kayak, you can drift across the 468-acre lake and admire both the lush greenery surrounding the lake as well as the Austin skyline in the distance.
For rentals, you can rely on The Rowing Dock, which is located on the southern shore of the, for kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle board rentals.
Canyon Lake is a large body of water that sits in the heart of Hill Country, which means it is surrounded by stunning foliage and classic rolling hills. There are many points of entry for kayaks and swimming across the lake, but an extremely common push-off point is at Comal Park.
Additionally, Paddle Canyon Lake is located in Comal Park, which offers one- to eight-hour kayak rentals, giving you the opportunity to soak up as much time on the water as you want to.
After spending an hour (or a few) on the water, be sure to explore what else the area around the lake has to offer. Hike the one-mile Madrone Trail Loop for immersive views of the water or spread out on a picnic blanket at Overlook Park to open a bottle of wine as you watch the sunset over the grand cypress trees.
San Marcos River
The San Marcos River is a beautiful spring-fed river that starts in San Marcos. No matter your history (or lack thereof) with kayaking, your experience will be enjoyable due to the moderate and steady stream of the water year-round. Starting in San Marcos, many people choose to take a water tube down the river, but kayaking is also doable.
Alamo Adventures is a reliable spot for kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddle board rentals. Additionally, they offer tours and lessons if you are looking for a more involved experience.
If you are looking for a unique kayaking experience or a new nighttime activity, try glow-in-the-dark kayaking with Paddle SMTX. Hop on a translucent kayak and paddle past special underwater neon LED lights that illuminate the water and your kayak. This BYOB experience is the perfect al fresco substitution for a night out at a bar.
If you are looking for a kayaking trip that will get your heart pumping a little more than a leisurely float down a calm stream, Guadalupe River is for you. Due to the narrowing of the river, some sections offer rapid streams for whitewater kayakers. However, the river is expansive, so you will still be able to find a calm section for a peaceful paddle if that is what you are looking for.
If you are a thrill seeker, head to the upper section of the river above Canyon Lake. You can push off at Nichol’s Landing Paddling Trail and paddle down a nine-mile stretch of the river that alternates between calm and fast-flowing streams.
For a calmer ride that lets you soak in the surrounding beauty, rent a kayak near the lower section of the river, below Canyon Lake, where the river is wider and deeper, meaning the stream is slower.
The Brazos River stretches across 840 miles and is one of the longest rivers in North America. A portion of the river runs through Texas, and it is frequently used for fishing, waterside hikes, and, of course, kayaking. The river is generally slow-moving, making it easy to paddle leisurely down the water. However, after storms, the dam swells and can cause high-speed streams, perfect for whitewater kayakers.
Possum Kingdom Lake is the perfect place to push off in your kayak, and you can ask the park officials for the best day trip route, depending on the speed of the water.
If you want to take your kayak onto calmer water, go at your own pace, and take moments to soak in the views, rather than be carried by a constant moving stream, head to Lake Buchanan. This lake sits on the Colorado River and spans almost 35 square miles.
With plenty of space to be explored, we recommend heading to Cedar Point Recreation Area for an entry point. The Recreation Area has over three miles of shoreline and gorgeous views of the expansive lake.
Where To Stay After Kayaking in Texas Hill Country
After a successful day of kayaking and soaking in the beautiful views of Hill Country, you might not be ready to rush back to the city just yet. We recommend taking your kayaking day trip and turning it into a totally immense weekend getaway in the outdoors.
At Collective Retreats, guests don’t need to choose between exploring the beauty and adventures that nature has to offer and living comfortably.
The Summit Tent, our most popular accommodation, has everything to give you a pampered stay while still giving you an indoor-outdoor living experience. Start the morning by stepping out onto your private deck, which sits just outside your door, and watch the light of the sunrise hit the gorgeous rolling hills that surround the ranch.
After a day of activities, come back to the Collective Retreats ranch to rinse off in your rain shower that is included in your en suite bathroom. Afterward, rest your body in a king-sized bed that is dressed with top-of-the-line duvets, sheets, and rich, woven textiles.
Other Activities in the Area
While you are staying on the Collective Retreats ranch, you will be given access to exclusive activities that are designed to immerse you in the scenery and provide a space for relaxation and adventure.
If you are feeling worn down from your social or work life, you may need the serenity and calming nature of the countryside. If this sounds like you, start your mornings with the sunrise yoga sessions that are held outside on the ranch.
You will be led through a full body flow and a series of breathing exercises that will center your mind and calm your body. During the day, try a sound mediation session in which an expert will ease your mind into a peaceful state with singing bowls and other calming sounds.
If you are ready to cross off an activity on your Texas bucket list, be sure to sign up for one of the horseback riding tours. Even if you don’t have any previous experience, you are welcome to join an intimate group of guests led by a local expert on a two-hour tour of the area.
Kayaking and More
What may start out as a desire to glide leisurely down a river in a kayak could easily turn into a desire for a weekend packed with fresh air, hiking, yoga, and more. We promise that your mind, body, and soul will thank you after a weekend refresh spent surrounded by nature.
Don’t let the beauty and unique experiences around you go unexplored. After driving less than an hour from your city, you can immediately be in a totally new landscape that will leave you feeling grateful for your home state.
There is no need to give up the everyday luxuries you are used to having when you stay with Collective Retreats. Rely on us to provide a weekend getaway that won’t make you choose between Hill Country exploration and a soft pillow to rest your head on at night.