Independence Paddling Trail

Visit Gonzales and enjoy this scenic 2.6-mile loop paddling trail on the Guadalupe River. This trail is perfect for beginners since no shuttle is needed.

Getting There

Access site:

US Highway 183 Bridge: (DD) 29.284080°, -97.448194°

Driving Directions to Access Site:

In Gonzales, travel south on US Highway 183 to the bridge that crosses the Guadalupe River.  At the south end of the bridge turn right and continue to turn right until you see the river.  The access point is located next to the bridge.

Distance from nearest major cities:

  • Austin - 62
  • Corpus Christi - 140
  • Dallas - 260
  • Fort Worth - 248
  • Houston - 135
  • San Antonio - 74
  • Waco - 167


Trail Description and Landmarks

Trail Length: ~2.6 mile loop

Float Times: ~1-2 hours per trail (depending on water level, flow rate, and wind speed)

This two and a half mile Guadalupe River loop trail offers a pleasant paddling experience. Paddlers can put in at the 183 bridge and paddle upstream to below the dam (look for the turnaround sign on the righthand bank as you approach the hydro-electric dam and don’t paddle too close – you don’t want to get caught in the dam’s current!) and then float back to the bridge for a shorter, family-friendly paddle.  The tall riparian trees that line the banks along the way provide for pleasant shade, and there are great fishing opportunities. 
Heavy rains upstream or in the vicinity can create dangerous flooding, and paddlers are advised to not use the trail during these times, as well as to stay away from the dam. Streamflow Data information is available to paddlers on the web.

NOTE: Use caution and stay back from the hydro-electric dam so as not to get caught in its current.


There are excellent fishing opportunities along this section of the Guadalupe River, which supports several species of catfish, sunfish, and largemouth and Guadalupe bass.  Small lures such as jigs, plastic worms, and light line are recommended.

Wildlife and Ecology

The Guadalupe River is a slow moving river with scenic vegetation and great birdwatching and angling opportunities.  Paddlers can enjoy the shade of cypress, pecans, green ash, sycamores, and other large riparian trees that support a variety of songbirds, hawks, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife.

Private Property

Respect private property by not trespassing or littering and keeping noise levels down. Use of this lake is open to the public and, if necessary, the banks/shoreline may be utilized to portage any hazard. Any other use of private banks without permission of the landowner can be considered trespassing. Under Texas Penal Code (§30.05), criminal trespass occurs when one enters property after receiving notice not to enter. Notice includes verbal notice, a fence, sign(s), purple paint on posts or trees, or the visible presence of crops grown for human consumption.

Events & Attractions

For more information please see the Paddling Events calendar.

Gonzales Memorial Museum
A Texas Centennial historic memorial, the Memorial Museum commemorates the “Immortal 32” who died in the Alamo. The Museum has a wonderful collection of artifacts that celebrate the nearly 200 years of Gonzales’ existence.

Come and Take It Cannon & Festival
The cannon that fired the First Shot of the Texas Revolution, October 2, 1835, is located in the North Wing of the Gonzales Memorial Museum at 414 Smith Street. Come & Take It is celebrated the 1st weekend every October in downtown Gonzales.

The Eggleston House
This ‘dog-run’ style cabin was built in 1840, shortly after the Texas Revolution, and is located on St. Louis Street east of the Memorial Museum. Listen to the story of The Eggleston House and step back in time to the early days of the Republic of Texas. The house is located on St. Louis Street, just east of the Memorial Museum.

J.B. Wells House
The James Bailey Wells House was built in 1885 of Florida long-leaf pine. This historic 15 room home still has the original wallpaper, drapes, and furnishings. Located at 829 Mitchell Street, the home, owned by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, is under the custodianship of the Gonzales Chapter, DRT.

Old Jail Museum
Built in 1885-1887 and used as the county jail until 1975, cells and gallows occupy the 2nd floor and law-and-order artifacts are displayed on the 1st floor.

Gonzales Pioneer Village
The peaceful life of the 1800s in Texas comes alive while touring 14 homes, outbuildings and businesses. These perfectly preserved structures include a church, broom factory, school house, blacksmith shop and much more. Pioneer Village is located on Highway 183 Business, just north of Highway 90A.

First Shot Monument
The Come & Take It Battleground is the site of the first battle for Texas Independence, which took place on the banks of the Guadalupe River about seven miles southwest of Gonzales. An 11-ft granite monument erected by the State of Texas stands beside State Highway 97. The battleground is one-half mile north of the First Shot Monument, on Spur 95.

Palmetto State Park
Palmetto State Park is named for the lush green plant growing in its bogs. A favored stop on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the park offers camp sites, fishing, picnicking at shaded sites with tables and grills, water recreation, hiking and nature trails. The park, situated along the San Marcos River, can be found just off US83, eight miles north of Gonzales.

Sam Houston Oak/Braches House
The Sam Houston Oak, located eight miles east of Gonzales on CR 361, is where Gen. Houston’s Army held their first rest stop after hearing of the fall of the Alamo. All residents were ordered to evacuate and the town was burned ahead of the Mexican Army. Nearby is the McClure-Braches House, built in 1843 on the site of a log cabin used as a stage stop in early Texas.


This trail was made possible through a partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, City of Gonzales and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

Shuttles & Rentals

Paddle With Style

Martindale, Texas
Phone: (512)749-2350; Operate by reservation only. Able to accommodate large groups.