Dallas Downriver Club

Date: January 19-20,  2013 Sponsor: DDRC
River: San Marcos  Trip Leader: Bryan Jackson
Reach: City Park to Shady Grove Campground on Saturday
New Braunfels Toob Chutes on Sunday
Phone: 972-979-2519
Difficulty: Class I to II * (See scale below) E-mail: paddlinpals@yahoo.com
Rendezvous: Shady Grove Campground on FM 1979 @ San Marcos River
Campground: Shady Grove - $5.00 per person per night

Trip Description:

We will be paddling sections of the San Marcos River in San Marcos and Martindale, Texas on Saturday and Sunday. We will be base camping at Shady Grove Campground Friday and Saturday nights.

This reach of the San Marcos contains a a few small rapids and rock gardens, the Rio Vista whitewater park, two dams to portage, Cottonseed Rapid (FUN at the current level) and a lot of scenery. Difficulty can range from Class I to Class III, but most of it will generally be Class II to easier. Fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber or any other fragile material boats would not be recommended for this trip. The river flows through heavily vegetated banks and adjacent farmland with very little commercial development even though you are never far from a major road or civilization.

Sunday, we will venture down to New Braunfels to run the toob chutes, Its a very short, but fun paddle. 


Gear Requirements:

Bring boats rated for up to Class III whitewater, PFD's (lifejackets), paddles (a spare is recommended), a whistle or other signaling device, throw bag, tent, ground pad, sleeping bag, clothing for hot, cold, wet and dry conditions, camp chair, headlamp, plate(s), flatware, drinking cup, personal toiletries and other items that you may want to have with you. A small cooler for drinks and lunches to be carried in your boat would be recommended. Members of the group should coordinate on community gear such as cookware, stoves, fuel, charcoal and other such items.


Bring your own meals, and bring something for the Saturday night potluck dinner. The pot luck theme will be "Open Fryer Night" Bryan will bring the fryer, you bring something to fry.  Bring plenty of beverages, but remember - NO GLASS OR FOAM POLYSTYRENE STYROFOAM CONTAINERS!

Driving Directions:

Shady Grove campground is located on FM 1979 in Martindale, Guadalupe County, Texas east of IH 35 and San Marcos at the San Marcos River. The San Marcos River trip begins at Old City Park adjacent to Texas State University campus and Bobcat Stadium.

From Dallas (to Shady Grove Campground):

IH 35 South through Austin to San Marcos, then LEFT on SH 80 toward Luling;

Follow SH 80 East across the Blanco River into Martindale, then turn RIGHT on FM 1979;

Follow FM 1979 through Martindale across the San Marcos River, then turn LEFT into Shady Grove Campground;

Stop at the office and pay for camping. If the office is closed, then take an envelope from the box by the door, fill in the info requested, enclose payment (cash or check), then seal the envelope and drop it through the mail slot on the door. (Don't worry about specifying your campsite. Just write "DDRC" in that space, and the Spencers will know where you are located.

From Dallas (to Old City Park):

IH 35 South through Austin to San Marcos, then RIGHT on W. Hopkins Street (SH 80) into San Marcos;

Go across railroad tracks, then turn RIGHT on Bobcat Drive (at the traffic light by Walgreen's Drug Store);

Go across the railroad tracks, then immediately take a left on Jowers St. between the tracks and the buildings;

Follow that road all the way until you are forced to turn right, then proceed past the national Guard Armory into the parking lot of Old City Park.

The river is just a few yards away from where you will park.

San Marcos River map

Map to San Marcos Old City Park

* International Scale of River Difficulty

Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight, self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed.

Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims.

Class IV: Advanced. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require "must" moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting is necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended.

Class V: Expert. Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to above average endangerment. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is mandatory but often difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential for survival.

Class VI: Extreme. One grade more difficult than Class V. These runs often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precautions. This class does not represent drops thought to be unrunnable, but may include rapids which are only occasionally run.


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Last updated December 16, 2013