You don't kayak the Medina River for a wild, whitewater, exhilarating day on the water. You kayak the Medina because you want a relaxing excursion, surrounded by pristine, natural beauty and wildlife, shaded by the arching cypress trees where you can just let the river do most of the work.
Still one of the best kept secrets in the Texas Hill Country, the Medina River in Bandera is about 20 minutes from Kerrville and 45 minutes from San Antonio. There are several kayak, canoe and river tube rental places in the towns of Bandera and Medina, and they can all advise you on good start and end places for your trip. We drove south on Highway 16 from Kerrville and made a right on FM 2107. The road crossed the river once, then twice, then a third time, which was where we parked and hit the water.
It was early May, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the weather was a perfect 84°. We started our trip on a wide open stretch of the river, but it wasn't long before we were paddling through a tunnel of bald cypress trees that lined both banks and created a leafy, ethereal canopy. The Medina cuts through limestone bluffs and outcroppings with free-flowing springs that feed the river and the wildlife that live here. The sounds of birds, jumping fish and other hidden creatures could be heard echoing around us.
We paddled past a father and his son fishing for catfish and bass. Half an hour later, we passed some teens idly floating in tubes (whew! the water seemed a bit chilly to me, but they didn't mind a bit.) Other than that, we didn't pass anyone else on the river. The Medina seems to be a hidden treasure, still undiscovered by tourists and weekend trippers.
Our three-hour trip was mostly a leisurely ride with Class 1 and under rapids, but we did encounter a few fast ripples of whitewater and stepped drops that made us gather up all our skills and recall what the pamphlets said about navigating the river. It provided a few moments of adrenalin rush for our group of novice kayakers and a nice contrast to the dream-like state of the rest of the trip.
Floating along the crystal-clear waters of the Medina, serenaded by the calls of birds and the gentle sound of your paddle cutting the river's current, your soul is lifted and the real world is a million miles away.