A Swim And Kayak Down The Trinity River And Dallas Wave

There’s something I haven’t told readers… last fall, I swam in the Trinity River less than a few miles from downtown Dallas. I can see the look on your face right now, eyes squinting, face squished in a perplexed gross look, imagining why anyone would do that. Well, I did it on purpose, had a blast and lived to tell you the tale.

I was fortunate enough to be taken out by the professional kayakers at kayakinstruct.com on a beautiful, warm, sunny day to the Dallas Wave. The Dallas Wave is a multimillion dollar white water park located on the Trinity River under the red line Dart bridge near Corinth and at the head of the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. It’s not in use much these days because of controversy surrounding the building of it and some design flaws. In January of this year City Manager, A.C. Gonzalez called the Dallas Wave a “mistake.” But I could think of far bigger “mistakes” this city has made beyond trying to create an adventure facility that encourages Dallas to embrace our outdoor features.

OK, back to the fun. As it’s been years since I did any serious kayaking, beyond lounging on the lakes around DFW, the kayak instructors took us through some activities to get the feel and maneuverability of our boats and help us become confident. This also involved demonstrating a wet exit from our kayaks, aka a dunk in the Trinity. I’m not going to lie, all I could think about was what kind of bacteria could be lurking in the water that will cause me harm, but I knew the pollution was worse on high flow days when fresh runoff from the surrounding landscape was high. This day, the flow was perfect and the river was swimmable. I dived in, felt proud of my accomplishment and was ready for the rapids.

Our Dallas Wave experience on that day was a fun, safe kayaking adventure and, at times, I was transported to another world farther than a stone’s throw to Southside Dallas. A train would come rumbling overhead, and I was reminded that in a few minutes’ car ride I could grab a coffee down the street or walk into city hall. We played in the rapids for a few hours going through the waves, paddling out, paddling back in and then carrying our kayaks to the start to do it again.

I haven’t been back to play at the Dallas Wave again, mainly because I have a rule that I will not kayak in the winter time when temps are cold, and now the water level is too high. The flow rate needs to be perfect to open the Trinity and the Dallas Wave to some fun. KayakInstruct.com also offers beginner clinics under the Continental Bridge in coordination with the city. All you have to do is make a reservation and show up, they will provide the materials you need. And no worries, these beginner clinics don’t include a dive through the Wave, but you can set that up with them if you’d like to wear the same badge of honor as I do.

The Dallas Wave is currently not reaching the potential it could. In Munich, Germany, a similar human-made wave system was created, and since the 1970s, surfers and kayakers have been riding the waves just a few miles from city center. The surfers create a tourism draw and a quick search on the Internet leads to thousands of pictures and videos of day and nighttime wave surfers. The scene is an iconic image that has become synonymous with Munich.

Instead of looking at the Dallas Wave as a “mistake,” let’s get the city manager out to the Wave, a dunk in the Trinity and make sure he understands the fun that is housed right in our backyard! But, I wonder how the construction of the horseshoe project with fierce destruction of the riparian areas of the Trinity has affected stream flow and the Dallas Wave.

As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly. 

PS: The Dallas Wave is currently closed by the City of Dallas.

Here are some more pictures from the fun, taken by Benjamin Hoffman:

IMG_4545 IMG_4600 IMG_4501 IMG_4538


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