Kayaking in and Around San Antonio: The 10 Best Places to Paddle and Canoe

By James @ Sea Kayak Explorer

Fulfill your kayaking fantasies in San Antonio, Texas! As the most visited city in the state, San Antonio plays host to countless kayaking hotspots. With its long, lazy rivers and whitewater rapids, the waterways near San Antonio offer endless fun for all kayakers, both experts and novices. The natural beauty of local flora and fauna sustained by the city’s nearby rivers and lakes only adds to the experience. 

With so many different kayaking spots to explore, some people find it difficult to decide where to go. Thankfully, you can find the ten best places to kayak in and around San Antonio below.

For more check out our post on the best kayaking destinations in texas.

1. San Marcos River, TX

One of the longest spring-fed rivers in the US at 75 miles, the San Marcos River presents a delightful kayaking opportunity in San Antonio. The river originates from the San Marcos Springs in San Marcos, Texas, and promises sparkling, clear waters for kayakers who wish to make the trip. 

The San Marcos River sustains many endangered species along its path and will enthrall kayakers with its breathtaking scenery. Kayakers should consider paying a visit to the Zedler Mill Paddling Trail on the San Marcos River. This route stretches for six miles and provides the perfect opportunity for kayakers to absorb the beauty of the San Antonio outdoors.

This river creates an enjoyable experience for both experts and beginners alike. Kayakers can expect anything from long, calm stretches to Class I and II rapids.

2. Blanco River, TX

Located in Hays County, the Blanco River flows southeastward for approximately 87 miles and presents some challenges for experienced kayakers who wish to test their abilities. However, the Blanco River also represents a safe and relaxing kayaking spot for anyone looking for a moment of quiet. 

The Blanco State Park provides kayaking lessons for anyone interested in learning the art of kayaking. Kayakers can enjoy a trip around the town of Wimberley while paddling the Blanco River. 

The river’s rapids classify as Class II and III, although the Blanco also has long stretches of calm waters for novices. With multiple take-outs spread along its length, the Blanco River allows for a multi-stop trip that everyone will enjoy.

You also have the Narrows (featured in the video above) which is a narrow gorge that makes for some amazing kayaking along the Blanco River.

If you need to rent a kayak, check out Southwest Paddler!

3. Comal River, TX

The Comal River is the shortest river in Texas that you can navigate, so locals named it the ‘longest shortest river in the world.’ A tributary of the Guadalupe River, it possesses a length of 2.5 miles and runs its entire course inside the city limits of New Braunfels, which is in southeast Comal County. 

The Comal River is an excellent kayaking spot for paddlers looking for adventure. Its Tube Chute – a section very popular with tubers – has narrow rushing waters which post a fair challenge for beginner kayakers looking to test their whitewater kayaking skills. It only takes about an hour to paddle the length of the river, but that should prove ample time to appreciate its scenic beauty.

If you have trouble making enough time for your kayaking activities, the short length of the Comal River offers an ideal solution. With its exhilarating drops found along its Class II rapids, this river promises a fun, exciting trip for anyone willing to give it a try. 

4. Frio River, TX

The Frio River in Texas Hill Country boasts crystal-clear waters fed by underground springs. It is definitely one of the purest sources of water in Texas. At 200 miles long, the river borders a desert and provides a much-needed respite to local animals. However, along certain stretches, the cypress forests and surrounding limestone bluffs add a little magic to the landscape as you paddle. Take out at Garner St. Park and explore the area for an enriching experience.

Because the Frio River possesses Class I, II, and III rapids, it enjoys a reputation for excitement among veteran paddlers. Anyone looking to get the best out of a kayaking trip should consider this river as one of the best places to kayak in San Antonio. 

To rent a kayak in the area, look for Outlaw River Rentals.

5. Canyon Lake, TX

Known as the ‘Jewel of Texas Hill Country,’ Canyon Lake’s broad surface presents a soft, smooth experience for kayakers. Located beside the Guadalupe River in Comal County, Canyon Lake provides kayakers the chance to enjoy San Antonio’s natural beauty while they paddle along calm waters.

Although Canyon Lake’s large size restricts most visitors to the northern end of the lake, its protected area provides beginners a great place to hone their kayaking skills. However, even experienced kayakers will appreciate the surroundings and enjoy the serenity of paddling on still waters protected by the coastline.

Canyon Lake represents an excellent kayaking spot for beginners due to its ideal conditions for casual kayaking. The nearby town of Canyon Lake also adds to the charm with log cabins available for rent if you plan to spend the night there.

6. Rio Vista Whitewater Park, TX

Rio Vista Whitewater Park in San Marcos presents a superb kayaking stop for all paddlers. With three man-made kayaking spots, built during the Rio Vista Dam reconstruction, Rio Vista Park serves as an exciting whitewater destination for kayakers throughout the year. 

Rio Vista Whitewater Park provides thrilling experiences for kayakers who want to test their mettle along its river. Novice and intermediate kayakers can book lessons from an Olympic paddler, Ben Kvanli.

The river’s rapids fall under the Class I to IV range, allowing kayakers of all skill levels to gain a little experience. The town of San Marcos also boasts fantastic food and drink establishments after kayakers conquer 1.5 to 5 hours of the kayaking stretch.

7. Mission Reach Paddling Trail

The Mission Reach Paddling Trail spans 400 acres of the Mission Reach region and promises an unforgettable outdoor experience for anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature. Located in Downtown San Antonio, the Mission Reach Paddling Trail makes an ideal getaway for urban kayakers.

Depending on the water levels and flow rate, the Mission Reach Paddling Trail provides kayakers with an 8-mile ride along the San Antonio River, which takes about three to five hours to complete. The gentle rapids represent an easy trail for beginners while providing experts with a serene, relaxing kayaking adventure. The park also possesses natural scenery for visitors to enjoy.

Visitors to the Mission Reach Paddling Trail can explore the San Antonio Missions Historical Park. This experience ensures history-loving kayakers go home fully enriched by the cultural heritage of the city. Overall, the park emanates a friendly atmosphere, ideal for kayakers and their families.

8. Saspamco Paddling Trail, TX

The Saspamco Paddling Trail stretches over 12 miles along the San Antonio River in Wilson and Bexar counties and offers kayakers a terrific outdoor experience thanks to its scenic, wild waterways. It derives its name from the San Antonio Sewer Pipe Manufacturing Company, the largest source of employment for the San Antonio community in the 1960s. 

The Saspamco Paddling Trail provides a scenic kayaking trip due to the abundant cypress, cottonwood, and pecan trees stretched along either side of the waterway. The waterway gives off a calm, natural feel with its peaceful waters and tall, shade-providing trees. 

The Saspamco Paddling Trail also connects with rural parks, allowing kayakers to avail themselves of various public amenities. The flow rate along the paddling trail varies frequently. However, with the right timing, kayakers can participate in the community events at John William Helton Park, where the trail ends.

9. Medina River, TX

Medina River, TX by Soham Banerjee (CC BY 2.0)

The Medina River presents paddlers with the chance to go kayaking on pristine waters under tall cypress trees. With its source on the Edwards Plateau, which itself is in northwest Bandera County, the Medina River stretches over 120 miles and joins with the San Antonio River, down in Southern Bexar County, Texas.

Kayakers can begin their trip at the Patterson Avenue river crossing and end their runs at Peaceful Valley Crossing, totaling a distance of 10.2 miles. The river boasts a series of challenging sections that will test the expertise of veteran kayakers. The river’s rapids fall under Class I through III, with long stretches of calm pools between the whitewater locations. 

The low water levels in many sections of the Medina River make it ideal for kayaking. However, the majority of the land along the river belongs to private individuals, and kayakers should take care to avoid trespassing on these properties.

10. Hippie Hollow Park, TX

Hippie Hollow Park is a unique kayaking spot in San Antonio for paddlers older than 18. The age restriction remains in place due to the park’s optional clothing rules. The park lies in the Lake Travis basin. Its calm, flat waters provide an ideal kayaking venue for adult beginners. 

With steep, rocky cliffs near the shoreline, Hippie Hollow Park offers a beautiful, sheltered place for kayakers to explore over the weekend. As the only clothing-optional park in Texas, Lake Travis represents a relaxing yet eye-opening kayaking spot for all paddlers. 

Summing up the Best Places to Kayak Near San Antonio, TX

Keep in mind that the best places to kayak in San Antonio depend on the skill levels of individual kayakers.

All adventurers remain advised to check the weather and the availability of transportation before making a visit to one of the several popular kayaking stops in San Antonio.