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HomeNL-2016-02 Old River

Old River under high water conditions for the Trinity River
Jan. 15, 2016
Natalie Wiest

Dave Kitson and Joe Coker and I decided to check out the paddling on Old River from the 1409 bridge crossing down to a takeout at Hugo Point Park under conditions of high water on the Trinity River. Releases on the Trinity reflect the flooding and heavy rain events upstream as far as Dallas so it is running more than three times its normal flow, i.e. about 60,000 CFS instead of more normal 20,000 CFS at Liberty. Here is the USGS chart of those flows:




We were curious to see if or how much flow was occurring along the river and with its junction of the Cutoff. To our surprise, there was very little apparent flow until we got far downstream within sight of the I-10 bridge. However, the Trinity had clearly filled up its basin with levels easily 5-6’ above what I think of as normal. Here is what the 1409 bridge looks like from ground level:


As we ran shuttle and dropped a car at Hugo Point, we were astonished to see the docks underwater and the ramps flooded to their tops – sorry about the view through my windshield and tie-down. Thought I had more/better photos, but I didn’t.

Here is the view of us sliding into our boats much farther from the river than usual:


It was a flat gorgeous day as I hope you can see from my photos. Meteorological data for Cove confirms we were paddling in upper 60 degree and up to 70 degrees most of the time. My car’s thermometer (in a dark colored car sitting in the sun) recorded 75 degrees. Sure felt warm, couldn’t be better for a day in January!

We could not resist doing some side explorations and paddling through the trees.


Dave’s GPS recorded the route. Our course is in white and starts upper left at the 1409 river crossing. You can see we paddled across what are normally pastures, cut off two meanders of the river, created new side trips across normally dry land, and almost made it to Lost Lake. The map shows our route only north of the I-10 bridge which we passed under to get to the takeout at Hugo Point.




We shared the channel with a nutria who seemed reluctant to leave his perch above the flooded landscape.


We saw this red aquatic plant in large quantities in the quiet water upper stretches of the river. It was interesting to look at but I hope it’s not another noxious invasive.



All in all it was a beautiful day to be out on the river. Wish you could have been there with us.



The author, Natalie Wiest