Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


Photo by Chase Fountain / TPWD


Gently Down the Stream

Paddling trails provide a quiet way to watch wildlife or fish. Paddling along a Texas river or gliding through a coastal marsh is a great way to connect with the outdoors. With more than 3,700 named streams, 15 major rivers and 3,300 miles of tidal shoreline along the Gulf Coast, Texas offers unlimited possibilities for paddling adventures and angling opportunities of all types.

The 75 official Texas paddling trails, representing both inland and coastal routes, provide well-mapped accessible day trips in a variety of settings and for all levels of paddling experience. They are designed to be day trips as short as a couple of hours or as long as you wish to make them, depending on how many stops you make for picnics, fishing, swimming, etc. River flows and water levels can also contribute to the duration of your trip.

Make sure to bring and wear a personal flotation device for each paddler. Respect private property by staying on the river and using islands or gravel bars for rest stops. You can rent equipment or bring your own. Learn how to paddle properly, where to rent equipment, where to find trail maps and more at tpwd.texas.gov/paddlingtrails.

Illustration © Mary San / Dreamstime.com

Prime Paddling Trails

1. PINEYWOODS: Stretch your day trip into a full vacation exploring 10 trails with 50-plus miles in the maze of sloughs and swamps at Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou. 2. HILL COUNTRY: Try the nearly 10-mile Nichol’s Landing trail on the Upper Guadalupe River above Canyon Lake for a 3- to 6-hour ride through rapids next to limestone cliffs. 3. PRAIRIES AND LAKES: Two trails beckon in Bastrop — the El Camino Real and the Wilbarger, both wide and slow for lazy paddling and places to stop for a picnic. 4. GULF COAST: The first paddling trail in Houston is the Buffalo Bayou trail, with 26 miles of birds, turtles and fish sightings as you go through downtown. 5. SOUTH TEXAS PLAINS: Enjoy the Goliad trail, the first inland paddling trail to include a state park. Located on the San Antonio River, with a take-out point in Goliad State Park. 6. COASTAL TRAILS: The Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail was the very first Texas paddling trail, with four loops of varying length near the historic Lydia Ann Lighthouse.

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