Discover the Best Kept Texas Hill Country Secret l James Kiehl Riverbend Park in Comfort, Texas

Discover the Best Kept Texas Hill Country Secret l James Kiehl Riverbend Park in Comfort, Texas

Here in Texas, if you haven't noticed, the weather temperatures will be hanging solid in the upper 90's for as far as the forecast can see, on my weather app at least.  From the Austin Hill Country to the hills of Mexico this portion of Texas is in the heat for the long haul.  The Hill Country has some of the best swimming holes in Texas, great whitewater attractions, and wild water travel destinations. Most are easy to find, popular, well advertised but, every once and a while you stumble upon a hidden gem.  A great Texas road trip just past Boerne, Texas will land you in the pristine, free and mostly unknown James Kiehl Riverbend park located in nearby Comfort, Texas.

 The first wave of visitors who started showing up in large numbers twenty years ago or so were bluebonnet lovers, peach eaters, canoeists and tubers, fishermen and hunters—your basic harried urbanites fleeing the city in search of an escape. Many were inspired by a 1975 song called “Luckenbach, Texas,” sung by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

James Kiehl Riverbend Park can be found directly in between Interstate 10, FM 473 and Sisterdale Road. Get the map here. The drive will lead you down a quaint Hill Country lane and past a few expansive pastoral fields.  Each way into the park boasts a historical cemetery well preserved and still holding on which really adds to the nostalgia of the country drive.  Almost out of nowhere, tucked between picturesque farmhouses and noble oaks, the limestone rock sign for James Kiehl Riverbend park will appear.  Turn there.

There is no admission to get into James Kiehl Park.  It is a 25 acre natural grassland and woodland habitat with hiking trails, excellent birding opportunities, a picnic and bathroom area and plenty of Guadalupe riverfront and river access for swimming and boating.  There are 3 hiking trails that add up to 1.5 miles total and include the River Loop, the Pecan Loop, and the Prarie Loop.  Of course we stuck to the River Loop and we were able to splash all the way down.

James Kiehl was an Army Seargeant assigned to Fort Bliss.  He was 23 years old when he lost his life in the Iraq war, his convoy took a wrong turn and was ambushed.  Kiehl was one of seven soldiers found dead during the rescue mission of Private First Class Jessica Lynch.  He is survived by his wife Jill and his son who was unborn at the time of his fathers passing.  James Kiehl's parents are still residents of Comfort, Texas.

The natural grasslands and wooded areas of the park make it a prime location for bird sightings and every 4th Teusday at 8 AM the Kendall County Partnership for Parks meets at James Kiehl for a bird census.  Follow the link included for more information or to learn how to participate.

The water is clear and cool and there are quite a few small rapid sections keeping the water clean and fresh for optimum swimming.  We have been to this park at different water levels over the years and it is just as much fun at lower water levels as it is at higher ones.  Visibility with goggles in the water is great, there are lots of shallow wading areas for little ones and even a great quick tube run you can take within the park that will last about 10 minutes.  You can get out below the campsites, walk the hiking trail back to the entrance to the river and make the tube trip over again as many times as you would like, easily with the footpath.  Other kayak trips are available with James Kiehl Park being the takeout point and the put in point depending on the type and length of trip you are interested in.  For more information on kayaking trips contact Kerrville Kayak and Canoe.

One interesting feature about this park is that it features four clear campsite type areas pictured above.  The park does not promote nor discourage camping, you can view the list of rules here.  It is only posted that ground fires are not allowed but propane and charcoal grills are fine.  So if you were on a longer boating trip this would be an ideal overnight stop on your journey.  I'm keeping it on my list of places to sleep outside in the future.

 This relatively new park gives access to a beautiful part of the Guadalupe River that was long known only to locals up until recently. When the water is up this is a very pretty stretch of the river downstream from Comfort that makes for a great swimming hole. You can bring the dog, but you need to keep John John on a leash. One of the good things about this park is that it has a new easy to get to take out point for a paddle trip, which wasn’t previously available on this part of the watercourse because of parking limitations. 
Top 10 Benefits of Small Town Life in the Texas Hill Country I Hill Country Homestead Texas

Top 10 Benefits of Small Town Life in the Texas Hill Country I Hill Country Homestead Texas

Hiking the Heart of Garner State Park l Hill Country Homestead Texas

Hiking the Heart of Garner State Park l Hill Country Homestead Texas

0