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My Life Outdoors

Guadalupe River – FM 3351 to US 281 – Texas

The Guadalupe River was my first love with the outdoors. As a young child my parents would take me “toobing” on the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers near New Braunfels.  

If you have ever lived in Texas it is likely you have heard of “toobing the Guadalupe.” The most popular section of the Guadalupe river, and the section I have spent the most time on, is between the Canyon Lake dam and the town of New Braunfels. Any given summer weekend, thousands of intoxicated “toobers” take to the river for some summer fun. This frustrating number of toobers prompted me to find an alternative to this overcrowded River.

A few years ago I heard about the upper Guadalupe above Canyon Lake. A little further away from the population of New Braunfels the upper Guadalupe is surrounded mostly by large Texas Ranchland. While the upper Guadalupe is far from being remote it is likely you would see more deer than people on any given paddle trip.

A few years ago some friends and I decided to take a 17 mile overnight trip on what I considered a particularly beautiful section of the Guadalupe. We planned to Camp at Guadalupe River State Park about 8 miles below our put in at Sultenfuss Crossing on FM 3351. We arrived at the state park around noon and set up camp in the primitive tent area. Since we had two vehicles with us we decided to run our own shuttle. We dropped one vehicle off at Guadalupe Canoe Livery on HWY 281 where we planned to take out the next day. We then took the other vehicle with kayaks to Bergheim Campground at the put in on FM 3351.


This section of the Guadalupe relies mostly on springs for its flow giving it remarkable water quality. There are number of rapids along this section of the Guadalupe, most remain nameless class I to II rapids. Rock Pile rapid is the first significant rapid about one mile below the FM 3351 put in. Rock Pile is rated class II to III. Another couple of miles downstream and you will encounter Dog Leg Rapid, another class II to III that can be dangerous if not run properly. Be sure to scout and pick your line carefully.

As you begin to enter Guadalupe River state park large limestone bluffs begin to rise on River left. Because we had gotten such a late start the sun was beginning to set when we arrived at the park. The clouds were beginning to glow soft pink as the last rays of light left the limestone bluffs. We pulled up next to our campsite and hiked up the steep bank about 75 yards to our campsite.

The next morning we woke up early to finish the last 9 miles of our journey. The air was cool and crisp and the bald Cyprus trees that line this section of the river were especially beautiful. From the State Park to our take out at US Hwy 281 the river remains mostly calm with only a couple of rock garden rapids rated class I to II. When we finished our trip we arrived at Guadalupe Canoe Livery about 10 min before they opened. We waited around to pay the small take out fee so we could remain honest. We then headed into New Braunfels to eat at one of my favorite restaurants before heading home.

The best time to visit this section of the Guadalupe is early spring or late fall. Summer water levels will usually be too low to paddle. The trip we took is one of many options. This section of the Guadalupe has multiple put ins and take outs which leave a variety of options to choose from. Alternative put ins include Edge Falls Road 3.8 river miles below Bergheim Campground. Guadalupe River State Park can serve as a put in or take out and is 8 miles below the first put in. 13 miles below the put in is the old Specht’s Crossing. There is a small “park” where Old Spring Branch Road used to cross the river called Nichols Landing. Here you can access from river left at the small “Park.” Don’t leave a car parked overnight at the small cul-de-sac…I have seen many cops sitting there just waiting to give someone a ticket.

If you feel like continuing past hwy 281 you can take out at FM 311 (18.6 miles below Bergheim) or Rebecca Creek Road (23 miles below Bergheim). The last remaining 6 miles is packed with exciting rapids including Mueller Falls (class II to III) and Rust Falls (Class II to III+). Be sure you don’t miss the Rebecca Creek take out. Just a few more miles downstream and you are on Canyon Lake. From there it is several miles of open water paddling to the boat ramp.

If you are looking for boat rentals or river shuttles contact Bigfoot Canoes, Guadalupe Canoe Livery, or Bergheim Campground. We decided to run our own shuttle because Bergheim campground wanted $80 to run one for us. It is only about 19 miles by car along HWY 46 and this just seemed too much to pay for the short shuttle. They may have changed their prices since we were there last.
If you are looking for an easy river trip with the occasional challenging rapid then I recommend checking out This Section of the Guadalupe River.

Getting There:

Put In:  29°53’33.08″N  98°33’29.54″W
Take Out:  29°51’15.46″N  98°24’30.14″W
Rock Pile Rapid:  29°54’20.08″N  98°33’6.32″W
Dog Leg Rapid:  29°53’54.15″N  98°32’0.09″W
Edge Falls RD Bridge:  29°53’9.43″N  98°31’55.30″W
Guadalupe River State Park:  29°52’29.52″N  98°29’3.31″W
Nichols Landing:  29°52’46.09″N  98°26’53.71″W
Mueller Falls:  29°51’42.36″N  98°22’4.75″W
Rust Falls:  29°53’9.11″N  98°22’23.71″W
Rebecca Creek Take Out:  29°53’16.83″N  98°22’5.93″W

Optimal Water Flow for this section of the Guadalupe is between 150 and 2,000 CFS. Check the Spring Branch Flow Gage for up to date flow levels: 08167500


  • The Saunterer

    October 12, 2010

    Looks like so much fun! I've only ever been kayaking or "toobing" once before, and I loved it.

  • Tiffany

    January 27, 2012

    I "toobed the Guadalupe" with some friends in college. I had been tubing in Arkansas several times and the trips were peaceful. You really felt in touch with nature. Tubing the Guadalupe was a different experience entirely. As you mentioned, the section I tubed was very overcrowded. It was a huge floating party. I had a blast. I'm not going to lie. But it would be nice to experience the Guadalupe without 50 of my closest "friends".

    I love your pictures and your post.

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