Monday, July 6, 2015

River Trail Reviewed

The already deteriorating map of Kerrville's new River Trail.
Last Wednesday I finally took the time to explore the recently opened river trail, completed at great expense (and some controversy) by the City of Kerrville.
The current phase of the river trail extends from Riverside Nature Center, at the confluence of Town Creek and the Guadalupe River, all the way to the Kerrville-Schreiner city park. It is a wide concrete sidewalk and includes several pedestrian bridges, and passes through parts of the river-edge properties which used to be accessible only by tromping through undergrowth and, on many parts of the way, trespassing.
My overall impression of the trail is good. It is wide enough for groups to walk together, the inclines are not too steep, and there are no steps which might block folks in wheelchairs (or strollers, or bicycles). Along the way there are nice stopping places. These include benches, some tables, and some explanatory signage.
Some of the spots along the trail feature sites of which I felt rather protective, known only to me and a few others. Now those sites are open to the public, and with heavy traffic will inevitably change. For the most part I think this is good, provided the City of Kerrville remains committed to policing the area and maintaining the trail. Open access to all is a good thing, and although some of the spots along the trail now revealed are dear to me, I am glad anyone can now visit them.
I suppose I'm concerned about litter and vandalism along the trail -- as well as the remoteness of some of the stretches of the long sidewalk. Some destruction of the riverbank, and flora and fauna along it, is inevitable.
I did not notice lighting along the way, and a solitary walker might find some of the stretches lacking security. If this concerns you, visit the trail with a friend.
Some parts of the trail did sadden me: the sidewalk paves through a stand of cypress trees which for many years served as a way station for monarch butterflies in their annual migrations; many times I have visited the spot to see thousands of monarchs aloft beneath the sheltering arms of the cypresses, as if flying inside of a cathedral. This newly trafficked section may not see these butterfly visitors again.
Other parts did puzzle me, as the trail passes stagnant ponds, most of which provide a certain aroma year-round. Well, even those are a vital part of the riverbank, smelly as they are.
I was surprised to see the "you are here" maps have already deteriorated, some to the point of being almost unreadable. For a new trail, these maps certainly did not last very long. Hopefully they'll be replaced soon with more sturdy materials, and produced in a way which can withstand bright sunshine we experience here. Otherwise, they were a waste of money.
There are several sites now open to the public which have historical connotations, though there is little explanation about these sites. The trail passes opposite the old Lakeside Park, which was popular for decades until it was destroyed by the flood of 1932. A close observer will see the remnants of an old concrete bridge in the river near the entrance to what is now Riverhill Country Club; I believe it, too, was a victim of the same flood.
Much of the river trail is in the floodway, and hopefully will survive when next the Guadalupe decides to dance outside of its boundaries.
I think the river trail will be a positive part of our community for many years. I remain optimistic, despite past experience, that the City of Kerrville will properly maintain and police the trail.
Hopefully, during this holiday weekend, you'll find time to explore the trail for yourself. You'll find much there to treasure.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who spent many years exploring the riverbanks near downtown Kerrville. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 4, 2015.

I often post historic photographs on my Facebook page.  If you'd like to visit that page, please visit

1 comment:

  1. I was a bit disappointed to find that the large parts of river trail are often not very near the river at all. I would have also liked to see a different surface used than concrete for those of us who run. Concrete, while having a low maintenance cost compared to some other surfaces, isn't nice to knees. I would have liked to have seen at least a "runner's strip" alongside the trail made of crushed granite or even pavement.

    The lack of landscaping was a bit of a surprise as well. Looked like everything a few feet from the trail was a tangled, brushy mess...the least the city could have done was clear out some of the old flood debris and underbrush. I was NOT surprised to see the city resort to its tried and true method of plonking down giant limestone blocks as's cheap and easy, but wouldn't a nice limestone or river rock wall/fence been so much more attractive?

    And you're spot on about the maps, the lamination and plastic covers used are obviously not sufficient to preserve the maps. I feel that, as the city often does, the river trail was done on the cheap, without much thought, and the already decayed state of the maps are the proof.

    Overall, while I am happy we finally have a trail, I find myself thinking, "Is this really the best we as a city could have done?"


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