After rising in western Kerr county, the North Fork of the Guadalupe River runs east, joining with the South Fork near the community of Hunt. After the branches converge, the river flows southeast for 230 miles over a limestone bed lined with cypress, pecan, sycamore, elm, and live oak before terminating at San Antonio Bay.
The upper Guadalupe flows across part of the Edwards Plateau, where high limestone bluffs support bald cypress, mesquite, and grasses. After crossing the Balcones fault line near New Braunfels, the river enters coastal plains and becomes a slower, more placid river.
Named by Alonso De León, the river has been known the Guadalupe, or Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, since 1689. Early explorers encountered Tonkawa, Waco, Lipan Apache, and Karankawa Indians along its banks: descendents of even earlier inhabitants of the area.
Longer, deeper, and more amenable to navigation than the Sabinal, the Guadalupe quickly drew settlers to its banks. Europeans arrived as early as the 1720s, when the Spanish established several missions on the upper Guadalupe. Early settlements included Victoria, San Marcos (home of Texas State University and a prime destination for river tubers), and Gonzales, where the first shot in the battle for Texas independence was fired.
Other communities eventually emerged and thrived, including Seguin, New Braunfels, and Kerrville. The small river town ofComfort was the site of one of the Guadalupes’s greatest tragedies; ten children returning from a week at camp perished in the worst flash flooding since 1932.
While the reputation of the Guadalupe as a haven for summertime swimmers and tubers is well deserved, the equal pleasures of a stroll along its banks are available year-round. River-tumbled rocks, late flowers in bloom or not, rusty cypress needles, and water-stirred grasses never lose their appeal.