Hidalgo Falls, Brazos River

These photos were taken by Bryan boater James Williams as he flew over Hidalgo Falls on the Brazos and the adjacent TRPA property. Text is by Steve Daniel.

Looking west to the river: the TRPA property extends along the fence line, beginning at the entrance gate (where the main entrance road coming in from the bottom of the photo splits) and running to the rapid, and then over about halfway to the right into the open field. The property also includes the large, roughly rectangular-shaped, and heavily wooded area in the center and right of the photo. As indicated on the maps at the main website page, the TRPA property extends to the far right but does not go all the way to the river.

From this angle you can see how thickly forested the main (seven acre) TRPA tract is (on the right). The main (locked) gate is on the access road just before the road coming in from the left (which used to be owned by TRPA but was sold in November 2003). The TRPA property begins at the curve in the main road inside the gate and extends along the fence line to the river. It includes much of the open field in the center of the photo and most of the heavily wooden parcel on the right. Tommy Orlando owns the 8.1 acre tract to the left (between the TRPA fence and the angled road), and Pat Guseman owns the angled road and all of the property to the left (south).

Coming around to the south, you can see the land owned by Pat Guseman and Tommy Orlando. The V-shaped road in the foreground used to be part of a 2.9 acre tract owned by TRPA, but it was sold in November 2003 to acquire four acres closer to the rapid. Access to the rapid is now by means of the road on the right of the photo. The road goes to the upper put-in and also swings around to run alongside the river down to the rapid. The quaint (ramshackle) pavilion shown below, where we held our May 5, 2001 grand opening party, is no longer owned by TRPA.

This photo focuses on Tommy Orlando's property, downriver from the TRPA property. The TRPA property begins roughly where the part of the rock creating the rapid contacts the bank and extends up to where the red shed is on the left of the road. As the next photo indicates, the property is about 30 feet above the river at normal water levels. In this photo, you are looking back at the entrance gate, and the TRPA property line is from the gate, along the fence, to where the rock is exposed in the river. The property includes all of the open field between the road on the top left and river.

The major portion of the rapid is upstream and can be accessed from the lower property by means of two sloping paths.

Between 15' and 16' on the Bryan gauge (when this photo was taken) the large sandbar near the lower property dwarfs the johnboat in the middle of the river (bottom of photo). At slightly higher levels, the tail waves at the bottom of the rapid can be 5' high and are great for fast surfing. Side-surfing holes are immediately downstream from the rocks on river left (the sandbar's upstream finger is pointing right at the holes). More surfing waves and holes are upstream far river right (left of photo) and between the debris-covered upper island and the river left shore. The island to the river left side and downstream of the first island has some great squirt and cartwheel eddy lines on the river left side. At the pointed tip of the next island downstream is the "ender please" wave, where enders can be found even though the wave does not look like it would be a good spot for them. Because of the upstream ledges, there is a large eddy on river left above the ender please spot.

The access road to the upper put-in is visible in the upper right of the photo. The upper parking lot is behind and to the right of the house near the bend in the river. TRPA property includes the wooded area along and to the east (in photo: above) the road. There are three small brick buildings in the trees just to the north of where the main road turns to the west and south to go along the river: they house two toilets and a shower, but they are on Orlando property. The Orlandos have given us permission to use the toilets as long as we also clean them.
The normal take-out for the upper property is in the bamboo thicket (river left, next to the uppermost ledges). The bamboo thicket is the lighter green vegetation on the shore near the house in the photo. This is on Orlando property, but we have an access easement to carry our boats up up the trail through the bamboo thicket past the house and back to our upper parking lot.

The upper parking lot is just behind the large trees to the left (in the photo) of the house on the bluff. At lower water levels (e.g., 11'-13' on the Bryan gauge), playboaters head for the ledges on far river right. At higher levels, boaters typically head to the surfing holes to the left of the top (debris covered) island. After playing throughout the entire rapid, you can get back up to the bamboo trail easily using the large eddy on river left.

The upper parking lot is in an area that paddlers cleared of thick stands of poison ivy, vines, and bamboo. Now the area has a covering of crushed rock and can accommodate 12 vehicles. The parking area is only 50' from access to the river at the Slide.

The Slide, a 35' steep incline boaters often use to access the river, is in the lighter green area upstream of the house on the bluff near the bend in the river. You can go down the Slide frontwards or backwards. Of course, if you go down backwards, expect to backender.