10.04.2007,8:20 AM
Ride-about in Hill Country: the Colorado River

The 'Other' Colorado River

I remember when moving to Austin and hearing references of the 'Colorado River' and thinking..... "What? Don't they know the Colorado River is hundreds of miles from here??"

I was soon informed that Texas has its own 'Coloroado River'. From then on I've referred to it as the 'Other' Colorado River. It is Texas' third largest river, traveling 600 miles from its origin on the Llano Estacada in west Texas to the Gulf. But its basin -all the streams and tributaries- may be the largest in this big state. Several large rivers -South Concho, Llano, San Saba, and Perdenales Rivers- and nearly all streams on the Edwards Plateau feed into this river. Austin sits on the banks of one of the many reservoirs that this river feeds.

Flowing gently from the high plains of the Llano this Ol' Man river then slices through the Edwards Plateau and the northern hill country like a snake, winding with uncountable bends, zigzagging through beautiful canyons and riverside bluffs. It emerges through the Balcones Escarpment just west of Austin, then slowly meanders onto the coastal plains to the south. The reservoirs north and neighboring Austin form the The Highland Lakes: Inks Lake, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Austin, and Town Lake.


The small town of Bend is located on the 26-mile Flat Rock section of the river, north of Lake Buchanan. Along this section is the river's largest falls (75 ft high) flowing into it, Gorman Falls, along with several caves, all within a state park. This stretch is also known for good fishing and home to several species of migratory birds, including bald eagles. The high limestone bluffs and rugged cedar-covered hills complement the variety of vegetation along the banks: oaks, willows, cottonwoods, pecans, and cacti. Water flows mostly gently over the limestone and gravel bottoms, but a few shallow rapids delight the ears with water music.



Only one road crosses this stretch of the river and, other than the state park, the shores are private ranches with a few scattered privately-run fishing camps. It is one of these camps I spent the weekend camping on the river's edge.




The entire trip report is here and begins with the first post at the bottom.

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posted by Macrobe
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