Q: What are some tips for tubing or kayaking Nolan Creek?
A: For kayakers, the sit-on-top kayaks are the best option. This is because there are a few low spots along the route which may require getting out of a tube or kayak and walking several feet. For tubers, a firm stick is helpful to push off the banks or get past low points. Wearing river shoes or old sneakers provides good foot protection.
Q: Where is the best place to launch/exit with a kayak or tube?
A: A great place to launch a kayak or tube is near the Nolan Creek Nature Trail, located immediately south of where the MLK bridge crosses Nolan Creek. It’s a short walk to the water’s edge from the small parking lot at this location. Traveling from this point to Confederate Park takes about two hours. You’ll know you’ve arrived at Confederate Park after you navigate the cascades of Creekside Landing (behind The Gin complex), travel the doldrums of Lizard Ridge, and conquer the last rapid (behind the Bell County Tax Appraisal District office). From there, Confederate Park is directly south, and it has plenty of parking.
A slightly shorter run run is available by parking behind the Harris Community Center at the south end of Smith St. by Lions Field, and walking down to Nolan Creek, just east of the antique bridge.
Q: When is the best time to tube or kayak?
A: People float the Creek from dawn to dusk, and it’s relaxing regardless of time of day. The canopy of trees along portions of the Creek make people feel like they have slipped into an adventure in a secluded wilderness.
Q: Is it safe to swim in Nolan Creek?
A: Determining whether to swim in Nolan Creek is ultimately a personal decision, but there is information available that can help guide decisions. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has developed Texas Surface Water Quality Standards to help guide recreation on creeks and rivers. Under these standards Nolan Creek is rated for secondary contact, which includes wading by adults, fishing, tubing, or kayaking. Since Nolan Creek has a history of elevated bacteria levels, swimming that includes complete submersion, or any other activity where water ingestion is likely, is not recommended, especially for people with compromised immune systems.
Q: I have heard that Nolan Creek is polluted. Is this true?
A: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality performs monthly water quality testing at several Nolan Creek locations. For several years tests for the City of Belton segment of Nolan Creek (station 14237, located in Yettie Polk Park) have been within the range recommended for secondary contact. Any exceptions occurred during a high flow events as a result of heavy rainfall and water runoff.
A segment of Nolan Creek located west of Belton is considered impaired because of unusually high concentrations of bacteria. To protect the creek a Nolan Creek/South Nolan Creek Watershed Protection Plan is being established. The website for the plan includes information on the latest water quality tests.
Q: Are there people who should avoid recreation on Nolan Creek?
A: People with compromised immune systems should carefully consider entering any lake, river or creek. Parents with younger children who are likely to ingest water should also consider other recreation options.
Q: Anything else I should know before embarking on a Nolan Creek adventure?
A: During and following rain events, Nolan Creek is prone to rapid water elevation changes. Make sure to check the weather forecast before planning time on the creek. Increases in water elevation typically bring dangerous increases in water velocity and much more floating debris (it is not unusual to see uprooted trees racing down the creek during large storms). In addition, storm runoff creates spikes in bacteria levels.
In general, the best and safest time for recreation in Nolan Creek is when the water is clear and flowing at normal elevation.
Please direct any additional questions to Paul Romer, Belton Public Information Officer, 254-933-5889.