TCBR: Rio Grande to Mansfield Channel

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The southern most section of the Texas Coast Bikerafting Route (TCBR) features great beaches, warm waters, and a mix of beach town and remote escape.

The southern most access point is Boca Chica Beach on Brazos Island near SpaceX and can be accessed via TX-4, Boca Chica Blvd, from the Brownsville area. A few miles ride south down the beach will take you to the mouth of the Rio Grande River at the US/Mexico Border. Heading north from the Rio, it’s about 7 miles to the jetty at the Brazos Santiago Pass that separates Brazos Island from South Padre Island. To make this crossing, I traveled about a mile inward via some sand roads and the beach to get to the narrowest part of the pass behind the jetty. It’s only about 1,200 feet across at the narrowest part, but extreme caution is required as this channel has a lot of boat traffic at times. A very strong north wind could also make crossing difficult. I took out on the other side at the Isla Blanca Public Boat Ramp which is just around on the bay side. Adjacent is the Isla Blanca public park and a large RV camp. You can make your way around on the park trails back to the beach or continue onward on the roads into the small resort town of South Padre Island. If you are not comfortable with this water crossing, starting the trip from South Padre Island is a great alternative.

The town of South Padre Island is known as a spring break destination by many. You will find the typical amenities, shops, and restaurants of a touristy beach town. Expect this area to be very busy in the Spring and Summer. The town itself is a narrow strip about 4 miles long and the main road out of town continues north for about 7.5 miles. This portion can be ridden on the roads or on the beach. Afterwards, there are no roads for the next 23 miles of beach to the Mansfield Channel. Automobiles are allowed to drive on the beach, but are not an issue. It’s a popular area for surf fisherman so expect to see a few along the way.

Mouth of the Rio Grande
SpaceX from Boca Chica Beach
Crossing the Brazos Santiago Pass

South end of South Padre Island

Towns and Resupply Areas

The town of South Padre Island has restaurants, a small grocery store, and convenience stores. There are no other places to get supplies outside of here so be sure to stock up as it’s a long distance to the next opportunity.

Water Sources

Stores, restaurants, and parks within the town of South Padre Island are the only sources of fresh water. Once you head north of town, there is no water available until you reach Malaquite Visitor Center about 85 miles away. This should be treated as a trek across a desert and sufficient water must be carried.

Camping Areas or Lodging

Boca Chica Beach and adjacent area on Brazos Island has about 7 miles of beach which are open to dispersed camping. Beach camping is allowed on South Padre Island north of Beach Access #5 to the Mansfield Channel. Tent campsites are also available for a fee at Andy Bowie Park and a KOA campground. Some additional info can be found here. Hotels are available in the town of South Padre Island.

Notice: Outdoor activities such as those described on this site are inherently dangerous. Effort has been put forth to present factual information but no guarantee is made that it is complete or represents current conditions. You assume all risk with any use of the information on this site.

Rowdy Fisherman

I enjoy combining adventure with cycling. Bikepacking, bikefishing, ultra distance, all road, former road, off road, and unusual locations. Riding the best and the worst roads. I hope that I can share these adventures with you and inspire others to take on their next adventure!

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