Recommended two-day float

Colorado River Trail

​Find fishing, history along this winding stretch from Smithville to La Grange

For the experienced canoeist, this trip demands advanced planning, fitness and endurance. The challenging trip covers 35 miles of river between Smithville and La Grange. Be prepared for two full days of physical recreation, with everything from deep, quiet pools to frothy white riffles.

Archaeologists have found evidence that this stretch of the Colorado was used by bison and elephant-like mastodons, now extinct. Diaries from early French explorers chronicle losing one of their colleagues to a hungry alligator. Now tame, this area is a great place for fishing. River regulars catch channel catfish and freshwater drum on earthworms, or bass and bluegill on small in-line spinners.

  • Access
    Launch at Vernon L. Richards Riverbend Park, operated by the City of Smithville. In addition to river access, the park offers overnight camping, picnic tables, potable water and rest rooms.

    Day one: Plan to spend all day paddling 17 river miles to Plum Park operated by LCRA. This is a day-use park, but overnight camping is permitted without a permit by those arriving by river. For those arriving by car or groups over 20 an overnight camping permit may be arranged by contacting 1-800-776-5272, Ext. 3366. You can also submit your question or comment to Ask LCRA. No potable water is available, but facilities include a waterless toilet and picnic tables.

    Day two: Requires 18 miles of travel. Take out at Buffalo Trail Park in La Grange, under the State Highway 71 (Business) bridge. Facilities include paved parking, a paved boat ramp and picnic tables.

  • Key features
    Look for bald eagles rooting in bare snags high above the water line. Watch for the sun reflecting off deposits of mica scattered along a sheer bluff overlooking the water. As you get near La Grange, you will pass just below Monument Hill State Park.
  • Potential hazards
    A few stretches offer swift water and minor rapids, but generally do not present a danger to paddlers. Always check the weather and river conditions before a trip.
  • Map
    V​iew this aerial map of the 35-mile stretch on the Colorado.

Need a canoe?

Local outfitters can provide complete equipment rental and shuttle services. LCRA does not endorse any commercial providers.

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