Barton Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River, is a kayaker’s dream right in the heart of Austin. This creek doesn’t always have the highest water levels, but when conditions are right, this waterway has some of the best kayaking rapids in Austin. Plan an excursion anytime there has been significant rainfall—enough to raise the level of the creek to more navigable depths. With convenient access points near our southwest Austin apartments, Barton Creek meets the Colorado River downtown and stretches for more than 25 miles outward.
Barton Creek flows through Travis and Hays Counties and boasts multiple short route options for kayakers. The access point at Gus Fruh provides an approximate 3-mile trip. There is a combination of both slow-moving water and class one rapids on this route. A few miles from Gus Fruh, is the 360 access point, located just off the Austin Green Belt. This access point offers a three-hour journey with many rapids and waterfalls such as Sculpture Falls, Twin Falls, Triple Falls and Campbell’s Hole. This access point is less than 7 miles from our apartments near Hill Country Galleria.
For a longer journey, start at the Lost Creek access point, conveniently located 6.5 miles from our This 8-mile paddle offers a mixture of calm water, rapids and a six-foot drop off—known as the “hill of life.” If you want to spend the entire day on the water, start at the SH-71 access point located less than 1-mile from the intersection of Bee Caves Road and SH-71. The first 10 miles of this trip is calm and relaxing, with minimal rapids. You will also see much more wilderness on this longer route, making it a great nature escape.
Barton Creek has crystal clear, clean water where you’ll be able to see to the bottom of the creek floor—sometimes up to 8 feet deep. You will find rocks and plant life throughout your journey downstream. While fish are not common in Barton Creek, turtles are! Along the creek, you might spot whitetail deer, a variety of songbirds as well as cedar and oak trees.
Rentals and shuttles
You can rent kayaks and a life jackets by the hour or by the day at Zilker Boat Rental or Rowing Dock Rentals. They offer both single and tandem kayaks for you to explore the open water. Olympic Outdoor Center offers kayaks for purchase or to rent, along with a shuttle service on both Barton Creek and the Colorado River as well. They also specialize in guided tours of surrounding rivers for anyone looking to improve their kayaking skills and learn more about the sport.
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