Like many other water birds, Oklahoma paddlers often like to
head south when the weather gets colder.
This page contains information about canoeing, kayaking,
rafting and tubing the rivers, creeks and streams of Texas.
There are loads of paddling resources that focus on South Texas
paddling, but they have The Gulf of Mexico, they don't need me!
I wanted a page that focuses on the North
Texas areas that are within striking distance of my good ol'
Texas Kayaking News: Dianne and I did some winter kayaking
and kayak fishing at Caddo Lake in February of 2011, you can read
our Caddo Lake kayaking trip report on
our blog or see
the pictures in our Caddo Lake photostream.
Got some tips? Send me an email or just leave a
comment on our Oklahoma Kayaking Blog.
Click to enlarge picture
Cypress Trees on
the Mt Fork River
in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
Kayaker Resources in
Texas doesn’t require registration of
paddle-powered boats as it does motor-powered vessels, so there’s no
way to count the number of kayaks and canoes in the Lone Star State.
You can bet that it is a big number.
The sheer size of Texas means it can offer a large
number of micro-climate regions with vastly different paddling
conditions. Personally, I prefer the swampy lakes of East
Texas, but tons of paddlers do their kayak fishing on the Gulf Coast
Ever Go Toobing in Texas?
Tubing in Austin, Texas - Seasonal Float Trip
outfitter Austin Float Trips provides all-inclusive 2-6 hour
inner-tube float trips down popular Central Texas Rivers (San Marcos
River & Guadalupe River) during the summer and fall.
Texas Lake Paddling
Caddo Lake- Bayou Kayaking!
Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas. The
lake is situated on the Texas and Louisiana border in North East
Texas and North West Louisiana and at normal levels it covers 26,800
acres. The Big Cypress Bayou is the main tributary that feeds Caddo
Lake. After it leaves Caddo Lake, the Big Cypress Bayou flows into
the Red River where they merge in North Louisiana. The Red River
creates much of the boundaries dividing Texas, Oklahoma and
Arkansas. Canoes appear to be more common than kayaks on Caddo
Lake, I would guess that this is due to the excellent fishing.
The canoe is the 'original' fishing kayak, in addition to more room
for storage they offer great stability in boat wakes. If you
paddle Caddo Lake, watch out for the speeding Bass Boat and Jet Ski
operators. Wake enthusiasts are thick on this lake, so don't
expect any boats to slow down when they see you. I don't mind
it much, because my kayak handles well in the wake and I know to
keep a paddle in the water and to 'quarter the waves'. Plus, great
fishing like Caddo Lake offers is bound to create a lot of boat
traffic...symptoms of success are not worth worrying over.
texasfishingforum.com for information on more great fishing
spots in Texas.
Caddo Lake is a large maze of interconnected waterways, with
over a hundred miles of clearly marked boat roads and more primitive
boat roads that can be confusing navigate. If you go there, I
recommend that you pay for a guided boat tour on your first day
there. They will quickly show you the parts of the lake
offering the best sight-seeing, fishing, biding, hunting or whatever
you are looking for. I can say the one-hour tour that we got
from Billy Carter's Go-Devil® Tours was the highlight of our trip to
Caddo Lake. I got the best pictures, saw the coolest sights
and learned more in that hour than in the rest of the two days we
spent there. Give
Carter's Guide service a call or visit their website, they did a
great job for us. Billy Carter's offer some unique lodging
choices as well. This is not any kind of paid endorsement, they just
really impressed us.
I've long wanted to take the time off to paddle the
Big Thicket Bayou area of Texas. Spending some time photographing the Cypress trees strung with streamers of
Spanish Moss from my kayak is my idea of a great time. The Big Thicket Bayou claims to be the
largest Cypress bayou in the world! Cool, huh?
In June 2010,
we took our first family trip to Caddo Lake. We spent two
nights at Caddo
Lake Lodge and enjoyed some great kayaking and fishing in the
bayou near Uncertain, Texas (more
details on our kayaking blog). The Wells family was nice enough
to offer us a discounted 'press' rate to facilitate of first trip to
this paddler's paradise. I think they made a smart choice as
we are bound to return. The location is fantastic and the
lodging was so comfortable. Their
website shows pictures of the rooms at Caddo Lake Lodge, but my favorite feature was the
private canoe launch and fishing docks...'the height of luxury'.
The Best of Both Worlds
Caddo Lake has the dependable kayaking conditions
you normally only find on lakes, so you don't need to constantly
monitor the levels like you do when paddling rivers. However,
Caddo Lake also offers the shady, curvy, tree-lined beauty that you
normally only find on rivers. When you combine that with the
absolutely huge Bass and Catfish that fill Caddo Lake, you get a
place that looks like heaven for kayak fishing fans or canoe
paddlers. These ancient Bald Cypress trees turn a lovely reddish
brown color in the fall and in the Spring and Summer they are vivid
green and surrounded by beautiful water lily, spatterdock and
American Lotus water flowers. We saw huge 'fields' of
water lilies that were unlike anything I have ever seen. Visit
Flickr Photostream to see our
Caddo Lake Set.
Another Caddo Lake Texas Road Trip Report
After hearing about the great time we had, my friend Todd made a
trip down to Caddo Lake this month. Check out his Caddo Lake trip
Todd's Caddo Lake Texas Road Trip - July 2010
My wife and I made a trip to the Caddo Lake
area in North East Texas this year. We were looking for a place to
relax and we found that and much more. For us, driving to the Caddo
Lake area was a four hour drive from our home in Oklahoma.
We arrived around three in the afternoon and
moved our bags into our cottage at Lafitte’s Landing. Currently,
they offer four cottages and a guest lodge. Lafitte’s Landing has
four individual guest cottages with full access to a guest lodge.
Each cottage is a modeled after a New Orleans’ shotgun house. Our
cottage had high ceilings, a good sized bedroom, living room and a
bathroom / kitchenette (refrig, microwave, coffee pot, dishes and
flatware). The Lodge is open to all guests and has a full kitchen
and dinning area with a ½ bath. I would recommend Lafitte’s Landing
for a small family reunion.
For my wife and I the first morning brought
rain, so we sat on our individual cottage’s porch and enjoyed the
smell and sounds of rain while drinking our morning coffee. When
you are ready, there is a lot to do. Jefferson is about 15 minutes
away from our cottage and if you like to antique shop you will love
Jefferson is a riverboat town and became quite
wealthy during the decades of riverboat traffic. There is a museum
covering area history, many antique shops, and many restaurants
offering fresh pies other great food. One of the restaurants has
$1.00 bills stapled to the walls and signed by the many people who
have visited. Another sandwich shop serves espressos and frozen
coffee drinks which will jolt the tied husband into being ready for
more shopping. An older couple runs a general store which makes
fresh fudge daily, and guys you can buy it by the pound.
I love to eat and my wife loves to wander
through antique stores so we were both delighted. As we entered one
of the antique stores I was pleased to see they had an area set
aside like an old soda shop. I picked up a drink from the
refrigerator and the owner opened it for me and then asked if I
would do him a favor. I replied sure I will. He said will you sit
in this leather chair and make sure no one walks out the door with
anything big, while I go to the bank. So there I sat, drinking my
pop enjoying the view of the town.
Besides the shopping and history of Jefferson,
there is also the town of Marshall near by. This is NOT the town
featured in the movie “We are Marshall”. So, I did not see any
movie stars. I did visit the Marshall Pottery Plant where you can
purchase pottery and many other things at discount prices.
When you are ready for the great outdoors, you
can take a tour on Caddo Lake. We had John Wynn of “Caddo Outback
Backwater Tours” (
http://www.caddolaketours.com ) show us part of Caddo Lake and
it was incredible. John grew up in the area and is used by the
county sheriff’s departments for rescues. In fact, just two weeks
prior to our stay he had rescued two kayakers from England. They
got lost and as it started getting dark, they called 911. John
found them and brought them out, they were very thankful not to have
to spend the night in lake / swamp.
Describing Caddo Lake is not a simple thing, it
looks like a swamp type terrain however, I took bug spray but did
not need it. Normally, I’m eaten up by mosquitoes so I took bug
spray with me in the boat but I never needed to use it. Therefore,
I would say it is more like an open water lake that has a large
population of fish which keep the mosquito population in control.
It does not look like an open lake, my friend who recommended Caddo
to me described it as a landscape from the movie Avatar. I have to
agree it really looks like a sci-fi movie set.
Our tour guide (John Wynn), spent time showing
us different types of foliage and different species of wildlife. In
this way Caddo Lake reminded me of a rainforest in South America.
Caddo Lake is a maze of 26,800 acres of interconnected waters ways,
bayous, sloughs, ox-bows, channels, islands and cypress thickets.
I’m sure I’m not doing the area justice in my description, but I can
say it will appeal to individuals who enjoy wildlife, beautiful
foliage and history.
Colorado Bend State Park & Lake Buchanan
When Lake Buchanan is near normal levels, The
Colorado River is navigable from the Colorado Bend State Park boat ramp all the
way to the Lake Buchanan, approximately 10 miles. This is a trip
on slow moving water through the beautiful canyon lands of the
Colorado River. The float is said to include a portion of Gorman
Creek which feeds Gorman Falls. Gorman Falls is an impressive,
60-foot-high waterfall. The falls' travertine formations and
associated lush vegetation are very scenic.
Directions: Colorado Bend State Park is west of Lampasas,
Texas southeast of
San Saba, TX. From the intersection of US Highways 281 and 183 in
Lampasas, take FM 580 west 24 miles to Bend and follow the signs
4 miles to the park entrance. From San Saba, take US Highway 190
about 4 miles to FM 580 and follow the signs 13 miles to Bend;
follow the signs 4 miles to the park entrance (2 miles of dirt
road). The headquarters and main camping are 6 miles past the
entrance on the dirt road (unmarked County Road 442). (Access
road subject to flooding.) Note: No Gasoline Service in Bend.
Two popular Texas Lake Kayaking destinations are
Austin's Town Lake and Inks Lake near Burnet, Texas. At Town Lake,
kayakers paddle to Austin’s Congress Bridge which hosts one of the
nation’s largest colonies of Mexican Free-tailed Bats. Inks
Lake is a great destination for those who want to paddle and tour
Devils Water Hole. Devils Waterhole is at the southeast end of the
State Park. There are some nice coves for anchoring and swimming or
Fort Worth Whitewater Park
Trinity River, Clear Fork, TX
While the full reach is listed as 3.5 miles from
Bryant Irvin Rd to University Dr, most whitewater boaters will be
content to concentrate on just the last half-mile, where
re-engineering of a series of dams in a cement-channelized river has
created a fine Park-and-Play spot near downtown Fort Worth.
Inland Paddling Trails Created By Texas Parks
& Wildlife Department
Bastrop Paddling Trail
The El Camino Real Paddling Trail in
Bastrop, Texas! A six-mile trail along the Colorado
Columbus Paddling Trail
A 6.5 mile trail that can take
anywhere from two to five hours to complete. Peaceful
waters and calm rapids.
Goliad Paddling Trail
Enjoy quiet pools and several small
riffles on the first Texas inland paddling trail to
include a State Park. Located on the San Antonio River
near the town of Goliad, TX this 6.6-mile river trail
can be floated in two and a half to four hours.
Luling Zedler Mill Paddling Trail
Located on the San Marcos River near
the city of Luling, Texas this six-mile river trail can be
floated in two to four hours. Paddlers will enjoy a
gentle family-friendly ride on this quiet river lined
with beautiful trees.
Finding Public Kayak Launch Spots in
Whether you plan to boat, fish, paddle, float or just enjoy Texas
rivers, reservoirs and coastal areas, the
Texas Public Boater Access (TPBA) website can help.
The TPBA website is an interactive catalog of public areas used
to access Texas rivers, reservoirs and coastal areas. To date, two
river basins (Colorado and Guadalupe) are available online. Public
access data collection for other Texas river basins is in progress
and will be added to the website. Watch this site for future
development of this resource.
Texas kayakers often make their way to Southeastern, Oklahoma for
kayaking, canoeing & tubing on
The Mountain Fork River and on
The Kiamichi River.
Oklahoma! - Area Float Trip Outfitters List