Where To Go Kayaking In Austin, Texas

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When it comes to kayaking, Austin has what you seek, whether you are looking for a calm kayak on a lake, spring-fed river, or a calmly flowing stream. With the spectacular weather experienced in Austin during the summer months, it’s no wonder that people flock to the waterways in the surrounding area. With sights including city skylines, mountains, flora, and fauna, you are spoilt for choice when kayaking in Austin, and the only question you need to ask yourself is where you will kayak first.

There are several great kayaking spots situated in or near Austin, Texas. Some of the more spectacular places that you could go kayaking include:

  • Lady Bird Lake
  • Colorado Springs
  • San Marcos River
  • Lake Travis
  • Lake Austin
  • Walter E. Long Lake
  • Barton Creek

Choosing which kayaking spot you will head to first can be made easier once you know more about the area and what you might experience while on the water. It would be best to consider all aspects of choosing a kayaking spot, such as what you might encounter on the water, what you will see, and how close the site is to Austin central.

Where Are Some Of The Best Places To Go Kayaking In Austin?

Luckily you are pretty spoilt when choosing where you should kayak in Austin. The deciding factors are what kind of kayaking experience you feel like and whether you are a beginner or more of an experienced kayaker. There are some amazing rivers, lakes, and creeks to choose from, with some of them situated right in Austin itself and others up to an hour’s drive away.

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is an excellent spot whether you are an experienced kayaker or trying it out for the first time. This 400-acre artificial lake forming part of the Colorado River and situated in downtown Austin is a great place to take the family kayaking. There is a no-speedboat rule on this lake, so the waters remain calm throughout the day.

Some of the spectacular sights you can see while kayaking Lady Bird Lake include the skyline of Austin, which will enchant you on any day. Great hiking and biking trails line the bank that travels through rolling hills that sport beautiful flora and fauna. If you happen to still be on the lake at dusk, try to ensure that you are close to the Congress Avenue Bridge to witness the evening migration of the Mexican free-tailed bats that live under the bridge.

Colorado River

The Colorado River runs through downtown Austin and has terrific views while you kayak along. The best place for accessing this river is from a town situated 30 minutes outside of Austin called Webberville. Depending on where you wish to go, you can enter the river and choose between a 50-mile kayak or a couple of 5-mile trip options. The 50-mile trip runs from Austin to Bastrop and offers kayakers some beautiful sights along the journey.

The Colorado River’s calm waters are an excellent place for beginner kayakers or those who prefer a leisurely day out on the water. The difficulty comes in if you attempt the 50-mile kayak along the river as this can become strenuous, and there are a few sandbanks and obstacles. So if you are looking for a more chilled kayak, go for one of the 5-mile trips or enter the river from Lady Bird Lake or Lake Travis.

San Marcos River

If you don’t mind making a short trip, then the San Marcos River is a top kayaking spot for kayakers. Situated 30 minutes outside of Austin in San Marco, you can access this river from the City Park. There are several options available on this river. If you wish for a chilled paddle, keep paddling around the City Walk area for calm and slow waters.

If you are out for a bit more, you can carry on for the next 17 miles and enjoy class I and II rapids. The San Marcos River is a great spot for intermediate kayakers to test their skill and enjoy a day on the water, having fun and taking in the sights. The sights along this river are spectacular and include riverbanks lined with trees and wildlife, including turtles, numerous fish species, hawks, and blind salamanders.

Lake Travis

Lake Travis is your place if you are looking for pristine waters with numerous inlets and coves to explore. Located on the northwest side of Austin city, there are several ways to enter this lake. This spot is an excellent choice for kayakers who wish to enjoy wonderous sights with multiple locations to pull off for explorations along the 250-mile shoreline.

The limestone cliffs, numerous campsites, and beaches are just some of this lake’s pull on visitors. The waters are exceptionally clear as lake Travis is one of the cleanest lakes in Texas. Remember that the lake pulls in large crowds that enjoy several different water activities, including motorized boating, so keep an eye on your surroundings.

Lake Austin

If you are looking for a scenic but relatively quiet lake, this is your place. Another artificial lake, Lake Austin, can be found a few miles north of Lady Bird Lake on the Colorado River. The lake contains numerous catfish and large-mouthed bass for fishing enthusiasts. So throw your rod and line in your kayak to enjoy some fishing while you chill out on the waters.

Two things to keep in mind when kayaking on this lake. The first is that most of the shoreline is privately owned, so it’s best to keep your distance. The second is that motorized boats are allowed on this lake so keep your eyes open for them.

Walter E. Long Lake

Walter E. Long Lake is another perfect spot for kayaking and, even better, some kayak fishing. Situated east of Austin, this 1200 acre reservoir is the ideal spot to take your kayak out to enjoy paddling on the tranquil waters. The Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park surrounds the lake, and it is also a great place to hike, jog, bike, and picnic.

When it comes to getting in some kayak fishing, this lake is the place to be. With its vast numbers of hybrid striped bass, long-mouthed bass, flathead and channel catfish, amongst other fish varieties available in the waters, it’s fishing heaven.

Barton Creek

Barton Creek is an excellent place if you are looking for a mixture of chilled-out kayaking and fun. This creek houses a range of rapids, including classes I, II, and III, and depending on the water level and where you launch will depend on which type of rapids you encounter. Water level dependant, you can experience class III rapids when you launch at Loop 360. If you prefer a more chilled kayaking experience, launch from Gus Fruh and enjoy the mild class I rapids and still waters.

Flowing into Lady Bird Lake, Barton Creek has several access points along its course. Enjoy the scenic view as you paddle under lovely green foliage, which offers some protection from the sun at specific points along the route. Kayakers are often graced with views of turtles and ducks while paddling along.


Austin is a great place to go out kayaking and offers a variety of paddling experiences. From chilled-out lake paddles to fun rapids and kayak fishing, there is much to enjoy when kayaking in Austin. What kind of kayaking experience you are going for will depend on which location you should launch.