Trinity River, Elm Fork
Formed in Montague County, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River flows approximately 85 miles southeast meeting the West Fork to create the main stream of the Trinity. Garza-Little Elm Reservoir (Lake Dallas) is located on the Elm Fork. The 22-mile section below the dam can be floated since there are sufficient water releases from the dam at all times.
Garza-Little Elm Reservoir to California Crossing Park
The Elm Fork which receives intensive usage by recreationists, flows through the densely populated Dallas Metropolitan Area. Along the fork, two small dams have been constructed downstream from IH 35. Here, the flood plain, which is flat and over one-half mile wide in some places, has been stripped of most of its native vegetation. The river’s main asset is the fact that it is a relatively remote waterway with good recreational potential located in a huge metropolitan area.
Water quality of the Elm Fork is good since it issues from the bottom of Garza-Little Elm Reservoir. Flowing from the reservoir, the first 6 to 8 miles have moving currents, but the remainder of this segment contains still water because of the small dams. Flowing through a heavily timbered strip of elm, oak, and willow; Elm Fork meanders by several public parks. Potential hazardous log jams are present, although the Dallas municipal water authorities attempt to keep the river unobstructed. Elm Fork is easily accessible because of the many road crossings and parks. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:
Corps of Engineers park – located immediately below Lewisville Dam.
SH 121 crossing – 1 mile east of Lewisville. (2 miles)
IH 35 crossing – 3 miles southeast of Lewisville. (6 miles)
Denton Creek – enters on the right.
Shady Lake Road crossing – off IH 35, in the western city limit of Carrollton. (3 miles)
Small dam – located immediately downstream from Shady Lake Road crossing. A portage is required. (0.5 mile)
Belt Line Road crossing (FM 1380) – off IH 35, in the western city limit of Carrollton. (0.5 mile)
Grapevine Creek – enters on the right.
Valley View Road crossing – off IH 35, in the western city limit of Farmers Branch. (4 miles)
Royal Lane crossing- off IH 35, in the south-western city limit of Farmers Branch. (2.5 miles)
SH 114 crossing – off IH 35, in the northwestern city limit of Dallas. (3 miles)
Small dam – located immediately below SH 114. A portage is required. (0.5 mile)
California Crossing Park – located on the left bank, adjacent to the above mentioned dam. Elm fork can be floated down to its confluence with the West Fork, and the trip can be continued on the main stream.
Trinity River, Main Stream
Confluence of Elm and West Forks to State Highway 7
The main stream of the Trinity River is formed by the confluence of the Elm and West Forks within the city limits of Dallas. The main stream has a sufficient flow of water at all times for recreational use. The river is characterized by steep muddy banks and is lined with vegetation consisting of elm, sycamore, and willow. It must be noted that this entire section is subjected to some pollution from the cities within the Ft. Worth and Dallas Metropolitan Areas. However, the poor water quality conditions become increasingly better as the river moves downstream. The Trinity is a slow-moving meandering river with no hazards prevailing.
State Highway 7 to State Highway 21
Forming the boundary between Leon, Houston, and Madison Counties, this 33-mile section of the Trinity River offers scenic qualities, among which are its heavily vegetated banks. Here, the river meanders slowly between steep, muddy banks which create extremely difficult access form the road crossing. There are only two roads which cross the river so that this section remains isolated from the recreational use. Several large creeks feed the river. For the recreationist’s benefit, plenty of sand bars which can often be utilized for camping and day use are present; and water levels on this section of the Trinity are normally sufficient for recreational use. It must be noted that the water quality is poor, because of extensive pollution upstream. This is perhaps the most severely limiting factor affecting recreational use of this section of the Trinity. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:
SH 7 crossing – 21 miles southwest of Crockett.
Beaver Dam Creek – enters on the right. (9 miles)
Henderson Creek – enters on the left. (12 miles)
Keechi Creek – enters on the right. (1 mile)
Boggy Creek – enters on the right. (4 miles)
SH 21 crossing – 5 miles northeast of Midway. (7 miles)
State Highway 21 to State Highway 19
This 44-mile section of the Trinity River forms the boundary between Houston, Madison, Walker, and Trinity Counties and is quite similar to the previous section. Along this section, the banks are heavily vegetated; however, they are often steep and muddy. River access is restricted except for two road crossings. The last 8 to 10 miles are located on the backwaters of Lake Livingston. Here, several scenic creeks (particularly Bedias Creek) provide good exploration opportunities of the surrounding area, and an abundance of wildlife is often seen. Sand bars which often provide areas for camping and day use are available. Although there exists sufficient water for recreational use at any time; it must be noted that its quality is poor due to upstream pollution. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:
SH 21 crossing – 5 miles northeast of Midway.
Lost Creek – enters on the left. (4 miles)
Kellisons Creek – enters on the left. (3 miles)
Negro Creek – enters on the left. (6 miles)
Youngs Creek – enters on the right. (1 mile)
Bedias Creek – enters on the right. During periods of heavy rainfall, Bedias Creek has potential for recreational use from
US Highway 75 to its confluence with the Trinity. (8 miles)
Nelson Creek – enters on the right. (8 miles)
Whites Creek – enters on the left. Below this creek, the water begins to back up behind Lake Livingston. (4 miles)
SH 19 crossing – 6 miles southwest of Trinity.
A small boat ramp is available. (10 miles)
Livingston Reservoir to State Highway 105
This 32-mile section of the Trinity River forms the boundary between San Jacinto, Polk, and Liberty Counties. The suitability of this section for recreational use depends upon the amount of water being released from Lake Livingston Dam. However, the dam maintains a minimum constant release thus affording the section sufficient water for recreational use at most times.
The river along this section is quite scenic and it meanders between gently sloping banks. The water released from the dam is of good quality; and many fine, white sand bars which are often utilized for camping and day use have been deposited in the river. Hardwood tree-lined banks, interspersed with areas of open cultivated land and some subdivision activity exist. Other than the addition of subdivisions, this section has remained in a fairly natural state and provides valuable cover for many species of wildlife. Some of the larger creeks entering the Trinity provide the recreationist with unique opportunities for further exploration. No hazards or potentially dangerous places obstruct the river. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:
Trinity River Authority Land – located immediately below the dam on either side of the river. A boat ramp is located on the left bank.
Huffman Creek – enters on the right. (7 miles)
Long King Creek – enters on the left. Reportedly, this creek is floatable at normal water levels. (3 miles)
US 59 crossing – 2 miles south of Goodrich. Although 150 yards of shoreline are available on the highway right-of-way,
accessibly to the river is difficult. (1 mile)
Copeland Creek – enters on the left. (3 miles)
Sally Creek – enters on the left. (3 miles)
Menard Creek – enters on the left. (8 miles)
Big Creek – enters on the right. (4 miles)
SH 105 crossing – 2 miles south of Romayor. Although 100 yards of shoreline exist on the highway right-of-way, accessibly to the river is difficult. (3 miles)
State Highway 105 to Farm-to-Market 162
This 19-mile section of the Trinity River is located in Liberty County and flows through natural hardwood bottomlands. Numerous residential housing developments are located along the river; however, there are still a number of remote sections that have not experienced any development.
Livingston Dam maintains a continuous release of water and water levels along this section of the Trinity are always sufficient for recreational use. Many sand bars which provide camping and day use areas exist along the river. An abundance of wildlife habitat, particularly for migrant waterfowl, is also present. With no potential hazards, recreational use is feasible at all times. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:
SH 105 crossing – 14 miles northeast of Cleveland. Although about 100 yards of Shoreline exist on the highway right-of-way, accessibility to the river is difficult.
Beef Head Creek – enters on the left. (11 miles)
Tanner Bayou – enters on the left. (1 mile)
FM 162 crossing – 4 miles northwest of Moss Hill. (7 miles)
Farm-to-Market 162 to Liberty
Located entirely within Liberty County, this 29-mile section of the Trinity River is quite scenic (the Big Thicket once included the entire area). Several housing developments reportedly have cropped up along the river, but many sections remain in a natural state. The Trinity and its adjacent oxbow lakes provide a haven for waterfowl. Also, the marshlands associated with the lower Trinity provide additional cover for a wide variety of animal life.
Water from the Trinity is utilized for irrigation of downstream rice fields. Therefore, an almost continuous supply of water must be released from Livingston Dam into the river to support this activity during the growing season. As a result, the dam releases water almost constantly throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Sufficient water for recreational use always is available. Many large sand bars which often provide areas for camping and day use are available. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:
FM 162 crossing – 4 miles northwest of Moss Hill.
Tanner Bayou and Mud Lake – enters on the right. This bayou has sufficient water for recreational use. (7 miles)
Greens Bayou – enters on the left. (6 miles)
Private Camp – on a high bluff, 3 miles west of Hardin. (3 miles)
Gillen Bayou – enters on the right. (2 miles)
Railroad Bridge – 4 miles southwest of Hardin. (1 mile)
Private Camp – off FM 2797 when extended to the river, 2 miles north of Liberty. A boat ramp is available. (5 miles)
Railroad Bridge – in Liberty, just upstream from US 190 and SH 146 crossing. (4 miles)
US 90 and SH 146 crossing – in Liberty. A boat ramp is available. (0.5 mile)
Liberty to Interstate Highway 10
Located in Liberty and Chambers Counties, this 28-mile section of the Trinity River is characterized by a swamp-like environment; but the riverbed itself is well-defined. This marshy environment provides excellent cover for many species of wildlife, including alligator and beaver. Many sloughs and bayous feed the river along this segment. One such slough near the county line links the Trinity with the Lost River; therefore, it is possible to extend a float trip to explore the Lost River-Old River system. The Lost River rejoins the Trinity a few miles downstream from IH 10.
The water level in the Trinity River is adequate for recreational use at any time; however, when there is a strong southeasterly wind blowing, the going becomes difficult. Also, tide action further complicates navigation on the lower portions of this section. There is some residential and commercial development on this section but for the most part, the river is isolated and scenic. Waterway features and distance between each are as follows:
US 90 and SH 146 crossing – in Liberty. A boat ramp is available.
Private Camp – located south of Liberty, off FM 1409. A boat ramp is available. (10 miles)
Redmond Creek – enters on the left. (3 miles)
Private Camp – located across the river from Redmond Creek.
Private Camp – located southwest of Shiloh off FM 563. (4 miles)
Old and Lost River Slough – forms on the right. The Lost River rejoins the Trinity two miles below IH 10. (2 miles)
Spinks Creek – enters on the left. (4 miles)
Lake Charlotte Creek – enters on the left. (4 miles)
IH 10 crossing – 6 miles southeast of Mont Belview. Good access is provided on the highway right-of-way. (1 mile)
Interstate Highway 10 to Trinity Bay
The Trinity River below Interstate Highway 10 is marshy and swamp-like, containing many interconnecting systems of side sloughs and bayous. One such system is the Old River-Lost River system beginning upstream from IH 10 near the Liberty-Chambers County line where a slough cuts off from the Trinity River and connects with the Lost River. Also, the Lost River can be floated from the start of the slough to below IH 10 where it meets the Old River and rejoins the Trinity River (about 2 or 3 miles downstream from the bridge). An additional loop trip involving both the Old River and the Lost River can be explored. These river systems provide prime wildlife and waterfowl habitat and many species are commonly sighted by recreationists.