Hill Country Rivers ~ The Guadalupe

South Fork of the Guadalupe

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.

South Fork detail

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.

The Guadalupe River after the joining of the North and South Forks

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.

A river ran through here ~ Cypress and limestone

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.

A hidden North Fork pool


Comments always are welcome.
As always, you can enlarge the images for greater detail. For a more detailed history of the river, this Texas State Historical Association article is useful.

Hill Country Rivers ~ The Sabinal

Sabinal ~ River and rock

Many decades ago, I associated only two rivers with Texas: the Red, which marks a portion of the border between Oklahoma and Texas, and the Rio Grande, our border to the south.

Over time, I discovered how river-rich the state actually is, and how striking differences among our rivers can be. My favorite hill country rivers  — the Frio, Sabinal, Guadalupe, and Medina — are nothing like the broad, muddy Brazos and San Bernard flowing through my southeast Texas neighborhood.

The Sabinal, a favorite feature of Lost Maples State Natural Area, rises from springs percolating through the limestone rock common there. After flowing through steep canyons, the river eventually joins the Rio Frio; in turn, the Frio flows into the Nueces, which ends at Corpus Christi Bay.

The Sabinal, flowing

Fed by a variety of creeks, the river traverses flat to rolling terrain; the surrounding sandy and clay loams support a variety of hardwoods and grasses. Once paralleled by a well-known Indian trail designated ‘Comanche Trail’ on early Spanish maps, the river originally was known as Arroyo de la Soledad, or ‘Stream of Solitude.’ Solitude still can be found there, as well as a wealth of natural beauty.

Solitary Sabinal seeds


Comments always are welcome.