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Kayaking the SASPAMCO Paddling Trail
If you’re not familiar with the SASPAMCO Paddling Trail yet, you’re in luck! Recent paddlers set off on the stretch between Graytown Park and John William Helton San Antonio River Nature Park for just over 6 miles of exploring. Read along as Shaun Fisher and his family detail their experience below:
"Today the family and I set out on the San Antonio River just South of SE 1604 in our trusty 17' royalex canoe. We'd not paddled this section before and were a little reluctant starting out due to the relatively narrow stream profile and the swift flow at the put-in. The put-in at Graytown Park has a very popular disc golf course, very nice bathrooms, and feels very safe for parking. We set our shuttle vehicle at the take-out, at Helton Nature Park, which is a very nice park with picnic areas, playground, camping, and even showers in the upper restrooms. The put-in consists of a fairly small metal staircase down a very steep bank and a small deck at river level in moving current.
After the initial swift current at the put-in, caused mostly by a gravel bar immediately upstream, the river slows down a bit. That said, novice paddlers will have to stay on their toes to avoid constant underwater logs, deadfall, and the occasional mild strainer. There are also a couple of gravel bars and constrictions that result in some mild riffles and eddy lines.
The water quality is questionable just because of the proximity to large urban areas and a fairly consistent dusting of trash reminds you that you really are just 20 miles from downtown despite the feeling of remoteness… We saw fish, turtles, ducks, heron, and some curious bovine. We saw no other people in the 6-mile float, which was pretty quick at 2.5 hours, but didn't offer more than one or two very small beaches to get out on.
The take-out is very nice with another metal deck and staircase leading up to a loading area Helton Nature Park near Calaveras. This section is really nice if you are looking to do a short trip on moving water, close to town. The shuttle is easy and all on country back roads… Good food options nearby in Floresville or a short trip back to town. Overall, it was a good trip and I look forward to seeing the next section that runs down to Floresville."
We’re glad the Fisher family enjoyed their paddling trip on the SASPAMCO Paddling Trail. The river flowing through this area of Wilson County is beautiful. The “dusting of trash” is unfortunately indicative of the problems associated with stormwater runoff, particularly in the urban area around San Antonio. The 2020 San Antonio River Basin Report Card does have a grade for trash and the report card provides tips for how you can help keep the river clean. Despite the occasional visible trash, the water quality along the SASPAMCO Paddling Trail almost always meets or exceeds the state standard for paddling recreation, making it a great section of the river to enjoy a day in nature. Before you go paddling on the San Antonio River, we suggest you check out the current flow conditions and most recent water quality monitoring results on our websites Parks & Trails Current Conditions & Closures page.