For more information on these paddling trails, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions section.
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This 26-mile paddling trail is the first paddling trail in Houston. Enjoy paddling through downtown Houston, enjoying the birds, turtles, fish and other wildlife found in this otherwise urban environment
The South Bay Paddling Trail follows the shores of South Bay in a loop of about eight miles. This shallow, subtropical body of water consists of approximately 3,500 surface acres, bounded on the south by the riparian edge of the Rio Grande, on the north by the Brownsville Ship Channel and associated spoil banks, and on the east by Brazos Island. It is located in Cameron County.
The Christmas Bay Paddling Trail is a 19.1-mile circumnavigation of this pristine minor bay on the western end of the Galveston Bay complex. This small bay is unique since it supports the largest stand of seagrass (over 200 acres) on the upper Texas coast. This habitat is vital to a healthy fishery. Easily accessible from the Houston metropolitan area, the Christmas Bay Paddling Trail offers popular, shorter loops of 3.8 and 10.3 miles with outstanding coastal angling and bird watching opportunities.
The Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail was the very first Texas Paddling Trail and is actually a series of four loops ranging in length from 1.25 miles to 6.8 miles. The trails meander through an extensive black mangrove estuary, into sloughs and back lakes near the historic 1857 Lydia Ann Lighthouse on North Harbor Island. Paddlers can glide through mangroves and seagrass flats that provide outstanding bird watching and fishing for red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder in the maze of tidal channels and flats.
The Armand Bayou Paddling Trail follows Armand Bayou from near its confluence with Clear Lake, through the Armand Bayou Nature Center to Horsepen Bayou, where alligators in excess of 10 ft. are commonly seen. Much of the area is part of the Armand Bayou Coastal Preserve. More than 220 species of bird are found in the area, including osprey, roseate spoonbill, various egrets, herons and pelicans. The preserve offers a stunning glimpse into two increasingly rare ecosystems – a riparian coastal flatwoods forest and a coastal tall grass prairie.
One popular access point to the trail is Bay Area Park located on Bay Area Boulevard. Paddlers who put-in at the park can either paddle upstream following a meandering bayou or downstream as the Bayou widens near Clear Lake.
Galveston Island State Park hosts three paddling trails, the 2.6-mile Dana Cove (Lake Como) trail, the 4.8-mile Oak Bayou trail and the 2.8-mile Jenkins Bayou trail. The Jenkins Bayou trail begins at the western end of Clapper Rail Road and takes paddlers along the bayou and out to the marsh restoration terrace field. The Oak Bayou Trail is accessed along the main park road and also highlights the terrace field, as well as areas of natural high marsh where laughing gulls, various tern species and oystercatchers may be found nesting each spring. The Dana Cove (Lake Como) trail begins at the end of the main park and continues through the seagrass beds that have recolonized behind constructed geo-textile breakwaters.
The Mustang Island Paddling Trail consists of the North Trail (8.5 miles), the Shamrock Loop (5.24 miles) and the Ashum Trail (6.8 miles). All of the trails follow the western shoreline of Mustang Island in Corpus Christi Bay, and cover some of the best shallow-water fishing areas in Texas. The Ashum Trail follows the shoreline of Corpus Christi Bay over a firm sand bottom and allows for outstanding bird watching as well as sight-casting opportunities. The Shamrock Loop skirts the beautiful, protected waters of Shamrock Cove, where it connects with the North Trail, which follows the shoreline to East Flats and then meanders through marsh and spoil islands to the Island Moorings marina in Port Aransas.
The Port O’Connor Paddling Trail consists of three trails totaling a little more than 25 miles. The Fishpond trail (12.3 miles) begins in Port O’Connor and travels through a number of bayous and cuts along the edge of Espiritu Santo Bay to Saluria Bayou, where it joins the 8.28-mile South Loop trail. From Mule Slough, the Fish Pond and North Loop (4.82 miles) trails continue east toward Sunday Beach on the Gulf of Mexico and to Lighthouse Cove, near the historic Matagorda Island Lighthouse. The scene of fighting during the Civil War (Confederate trench lines still may be seen here), the northern end of Matagorda Island is now managed by TPWD as a Wildlife Management Area. Camping is permitted.