An Analysis of Texas Waterways

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A Report on the Physical Characteristics of Rivers, Streams, and Bayous in Texas


Major Waterways of Central Texas

Leon River

The Leon River is formed by the confluence of its North, Middle, and South Forks in Eastland County. The waterway flows approximately 185 miles southeast, eventually joining the Lampasas River to form the Little River. The upper reaches of the river would not normally be suitable for recreational use and has sufficient water only during periods of heavy runoff. The lower sections, however, have been determined to contain a sufficient flow for recreational use almost any time. These lower sections of the river pass through a scenic portion of the Cross Timbers area of Central Texas.


Lake Leon Dam to Gatesville
(Not mapped)
128 miles

The upper reaches of the Leon River generally flow southeast through hilly, scenic terrain. Being relatively unsettled and having mostly small farms and ranches, the entire area is characterized by rocky hills covered with post oak and cedar. Two reservoirs are located on the upper reaches - Lake Leon and Proctor Reservoir. Lake Leon is located in Eastland County just outside of the City of Eastland; and Proctor Reservoir is in Comanche County. Between the two reservoirs is a 31-mile section of river that is extremely narrow and shallow, rendering recreational use infeasible for this segment. Below Proctor Reservoir the river becomes suitable for recreational activities only during periods when water is being released from the dam and after heavy rains. Some small rapids are found; however, there exist no major obstacles other than occasional log jams.

There are many road crossings on the Leon River from Proctor Reservoir to Gatesville. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:

US 67 crossing - below Proctor Dam, 8 miles northeast of Comanche. County road crossing off FM 1476 - 8 miles east of Comanche. (4 miles)
FM 1476 crossing - 10 miles east of Comanche. (6 miles)
County road crossing off SH 36 - 1 mile northeast of Gustine. (3 miles)
County road crossing between SH 36 and FM 519 - 2 miles northeast of Gustine. (4 miles)
FM 1702 crossing - 4 miles east of Gustine. (3 miles)
County road crossing off SH 36 - 5 miles east of Gustine. (2 miles)
County road crossing off SH 36 - 1 mile north of the town of Lamkin. (5 miles)
County road crossing off SH 36 - 8 miles northwest of Hamilton on the Comanche-Hamilton county line. (4 miles)
Private camp off US 281 - 6 miles northwest of Hamilton. (5 miles)
Private camp off SH 36 - 5 miles northwest of Hamilton. (1 mile)
County road crossing off US 281 - 4 miles northwest of Hamilton. (2 miles)
US 281 crossing - 5 miles north of Hamilton. (2 miles)
County road crossing off US 281 - 4 miles north of Hamilton. (1 mile)
County road crossing off US 281 - 6 miles northeast of Hamilton. (4 miles)
County road crossing off FM 219 - 5 miles northeast of Hamilton. (2 miles)
County road crossing off FM 1602 - 5 miles northeast of Hamilton. (4 miles)
SH 22 crossing - 6 miles east of Hamilton. (4 miles)
County road crossing off SH 22 - 7 miles east of Hamilton. (5 miles)
SH 36 crossing - 1 mile west of Jonesboro. (15 miles)
County road crossing off SH 36 - 9 miles northwest of Gatesville. (12 miles)
County road crossing off FM 2412 - 4 miles northwest of Gatesville. (10 miles)
US 84 crossing - western city limit of Gatesville. (10 miles)


Map of Leon River from US Highway 84 to Mother Neff State Park.

Leon River
US Highway 84 to Mother Neff State Park
46 Miles

US Highway 84 to Mother Neff State Park
46 miles

This 46-mile section of the Leon River, located in Coryell County from Gatesville to Lake Belton, usually has sufficient water for recreational activities. A number of creeks enter the river and the water is fairly deep. The banks of the Leon are steep, muddy, and lined with vegetation consisting of elm, willow, sycamore, and pecan. In many places, scenic vistas of oak and cedar-covered hills may be encountered.

The occasional log jams found on this section often hinder navigation. The river becomes sluggish in the lower portion of this section and eventually the back-up waters from Lake Belton are encountered.
A good point to begin recreational use of this section is the US 84 crossing near the western city limits of Gatesville. Additional waterway features and distance between each are as follows:

Cottonwood Creek - enters on the right.
Shoal Creek - enters on the right.
County road crossing off SH 36 - 4 miles south of Gatesville. (9 miles)
Turner Creek - enters on the right.
SH 36 crossing - 4 miles southeast of Gatesville. (2 miles)
Henson Creek - enters on the right.
FM 1829 crossing - 9 miles southeast of Gatesville. (8 miles)
County road crossing off FM 931 - 1 mile west of Leon Junction. (5 miles)
Coryell Creek - enters on the left.
County road crossing off FM 107 - 9 miles southeast of Fort Gates. (8 miles)
County road crossing off FM 107 - 5 miles southwest of Oglesby. (5 miles)
Station Creek - enters on the left.
Mother Neff State Park - extreme eastern portion of Coryell County. (9 miles) Camping and picnicking facilities are available at the State Park. Belton Reservoir is located below this site. Camping and picnicking facilities are available at Corps of Engineers parks around the reservoir.



Map of Leon River from Belton Reservoir to Lampasas River.

Leon River
Belton Reservoir to Lampasas River
17.5 Miles

Belton Reservoir to Lampasas River
17.5 miles

This 17.5-mile section of the Leon River is located in Bell County. Because of the existence of Belton Reservoir, the river depends on water releases from Belton Dam before the water level becomes sufficient for recreational use. The dam maintains a minimum amount of water for recreational use year round. Periods of heavy rainfall result in more and larger releases from the dam which create better recreational conditions. The optimum water flow reportedly is in the vicinity of 300 cubic feet per second (CFS). The waterway is scenic for a couple of miles below the dam. Heavy vegetation consisting predominantly of elm, willow, and sycamore are prevalent along the banks. Variations in gradient create a few areas containing fast water. However, the water quality quickly deteriorates below Belton as the river meanders slowly between steep, earthen banks.

Because of several road crossings and a Corps of Engineers park located below the dam, the river is easily accessible. However, steep, often muddy, banks must be contended with at some of these crossings. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:

Corps of Engineers park - immediately below Belton Dam.
SH 317 crossing - 2 miles north of the city of Belton. (1.5 miles)
FM 817 crossing - northeastern city limit of Belton. (3 miles)
IH 35 crossing - eastern city limit of Belton. (1 mile)
FM 1741 crossing - 2 miles southeast of Belton. (3 miles)
Nolan Creek - enters on the right. (1 mile)
FM 436 crossing - 5 miles southeast of Belton. (8 miles) The Leon River joins the Lampasas River, forming the Little River, one mile below FM 436 crossing.



Little River

Formed in Bell County by the union of the Leon and Lampasas Rivers, the Little River flows generally southeast for 75 miles to join the Brazos River in Milam County. This waterway has sufficient water for recreational use at all times due to major inputs from its two tributaries. A third major tributary, the San Gabriel River, further increases the flow of water a short distance downstream. The Little River moves very slowly, winding between heavily vegetated banks for its entire distance. Few potential hazards to recreational use exist.


Map of Little River from Farm-to-Market 436 to Farm-to-Market 437.

Little River
Farm-to-Market 436 to Farm-to-Market 437
25 Miles

Farm-to-Market 436 to Farm-to-Market 437
25 miles

This 25-mile section of the Little River flows through relatively flat farming country and no rapids or fast water exist. A number of high earthen bluffs are prevalent, particularly in the vicinity of the town of Little River. The river generally flows between steep, earthen banks.

Trees sometime fall across the stream and create a hindrance to navigation. Vegetation consists predominantly of willow, elm, and sycamore. There is always adequate water along this section to support recreational use, and no hazards other than occasional log jams are present. Several roads exist which provide access to the river. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:

FM 436 crossing of the Leon River - 5 miles southeast of Belton. A road beneath the bridge goes down to the river.
Lampasas River - enters on the right. (1 mile)
SH 95 crossing - 6 miles north of Holland. 50 feet of shoreline are available, and a road goes down beneath the bridge. (6 miles)
Boggy Creek - enters on the left. (1.5 miles)
County road crossing off FM 436 - 5 miles west of Rogers. The bridge has been washed out. (2 miles)
Willow Creek - enters on the right. (4 miles)
County road crossing off SH 95 - 4 miles east of Holland. The bridge has been washed out. (2 miles)
Knob Creek - enters on the left. (3 miles)
County road crossing off FM 2268 - 6 miles east of Holland. The bridge has been washed out. (1 mile)
Cathy Creek - enters on the right. (2 miles)
FM 437 crossing - 15 miles west of Cameron. A road goes down beneath the bridge, but access is poor. (3 miles)



Map of Little River from Farm-to-Market 437 to Farm-to-Market 1600.

Little River
Farm-to-Market 437 to Farm-to-Market 1600
33 Miles

Farm-to-Market 437 to Farm-to-Market 1600
33 miles

This 33-mile section of the Little River is contained entirely within Milam County. The river along this stretch flows through relatively flat farm land, and no rapids are encountered. The river is slow-moving and contains heavy vegetation along its banks. The banks are steep and muddy, which makes access to the river at road crossings rather difficult. Water quality is fair although it usually has a murky appearance. There is normally adequate water for recreational use. The only potential hazards are occasional log jams. Five roads cross the river along this stretch, dividing it into segments that are relatively equal in length. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:

FM 437 crossing - 15 miles west of Cameron. A road beneath the bridge goes down to the river.
Hendrick's Branch - enters on the left. (5 miles)
County road crossing off FM 437 - 12 miles west of Cameron. (2 miles)
Cutoff Slough - enters on the left. (1 mile)
Donahoe Creek - enters on the right. (3 miles)
County road crossing off FM 485 - 11 miles southwest of Cameron. (6 miles)
Clay's Creek - enters on the right. (4 miles)
FM 486 crossing - 11 miles southwest of Cameron. (4 miles)
Cutoff Slough - enters on the left. (3 miles)
FM 1600 crossing - 8 miles south of Cameron. 0.5 mile of shoreline are available on the highway right-of-way. (5 miles)



Map of Little River from Farm-to-Market 1600 to Sugarloaf Mountain Crossing.

Little River
Farm-to-Market 1600 to Sugarloaf Mountain Crossing
38 Miles

Farm-to-Market 1600 to Sugarloaf Mountain Crossing
38 miles

This 38-mile section of the Little River flows through a scenic portion of Milam County. Of particular interest is the Sugarloaf Mountain area, located between the towns of Gause and Branchville. Sugarloaf Mountain is a unique sandstone spire which rises above the surrounding countryside.

Its variable banks of yellow, red, and rust colors are visible for miles and it is a major reference point. The river flows slowly between steep, heavily vegetated banks. There is normally an adequate supply of water for recreational use. No rapids exist, and an occasional log across the river is likely the only hazard. There are four road crossings along this section; however, river access from these crossings is difficult due to the steep banks. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:

FM 1600 crossing - 8 miles south of Cameron, 0.5 mile of shoreline is available on the highway right-of-way.
San Gabriel River - enters on the right. This river has potential for recreational use. (3 miles)
Bear Creek - enters on the left. (8 miles)
Sandy Creek - enters on the right. (1.5 miles)
US 77 and SH 36 crossing - 1 mile southeast of Cameron. (0.5 mile)
County road crossing off FM 2095 - 2 miles southwest of Cameron. (2 miles)
Big Elm Creek - enters on the left. (4 miles)
Cannonsnop Creek - enters on the right. (8 miles)
Maysfield Creek - enters on the left. (2 miles)
Hart Creek - enters on the left. (3 miles)
Pin Oak Creek - enters on the right. (5 miles)
Sugarloaf Mountain crossing - off US 190, 13 miles southeast of Cameron. (1 mile)

Seven miles downstream, the Little River joins the Brazos River. Recreational float trips along this section are often extended an additional 10 miles to the US 79 crossing on the Brazos River.




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