Buffalo Bayou Paddling Trail

Buffalo Bayou Paddling Trail
Photo courtesy of Harris County
Flood Control District

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.


Getting There

Ten access points:

1. Highway 6 GPS coordinates 29° 46’ 9.750” N, 95° 38’ 96.102” W

2. Terry Hershy Park (Memorial Mews) GPS coordinates 29° 46’ 24.00” N, 95° 37’ 24.00” W

3. Dairy Ashford Road GPS coordinates 29° 45’ 42.00” N, 95° 36’ 23.00” W

4. West Sam Houston Parkway GPS coordinates 29° 45’ 44.00” N, 95° 33’ 30.00” W

5. Briar Bend Park GPS coordinates 29° 44’ 45.76” N, 95° 30’ 25.76” W

6. Woodway Memorial Park GPS coordinates 29° 45’ 53.00” N, 95° 27’ 25.00” W

7. Hogg Bird Sanctuary GPS coordinates 29° 45’ 30” N, 95° 25’ 18.00” W

8. Eleanor Tinsley Park (Buffalo Bayou Park) GPS coordinates 29° 45’ 42.00” N, 95° 22’ 42.00” W

9. Sabine Street (Buffalo Bayou Park) GPS coordinates 29° 45’ 44.00” N, 95° 22’ 25.00” W

10. Allen's Landing Park GPS coordinates 29° 45’ 53.00” N, 95° 21’ 33.00” W

Distance from nearest major cities:

  • Dallas - 240 miles
  • Fort Worth - 259 miles
  • Austin - 161 miles
  • Waco - 180 miles
  • San Antonio - 195 miles
  • Corpus Christi - 203 miles

Map

Download PDF version of map of Buffalo Bayou Paddling Trail media download(PDF 209.6 KB) which includes GPS coordinates and estimated float times for each segment.

Trail Description and Landmarks

Trail Length: ~26 miles total
Depending upon water levels and flow rates the paddling time can vary. Due to the length of the trail, it is too long to paddle in one day. Individual segments of the trail can be paddled in 1.5 to 4 hours of paddling.

Float Time:
Estimated float times for each trail segment are:
Hwy 6 to Terry Hershy Park ~1 hour
Terry Hershy Park to Dairy Ashford ~1 hour
Dairy Ashford Road to West Sam Houston Parkway ~2 to 3 hours
West Sam Houston Parkway to Briar Bend Park ~3 to 4 hours
Briar Bend Park to Woodway Memorial Park~3.5 to 4.5 hours
Woodway Memorial Park to Hogg Bird Santuary ~2.5 to 3.5 hours
Hogg Bird Santuary to Eleanor Tinsley Park ~2 hours to 3 hours
Eleanor Tinsley Park to Sabine Street ~15 minutes
Sabine Street to Allen’s Landing Park ~1 hour

Please note: The water quality of the bayou is variable, but is generally unsuitable for swimming. Precautions such as washing hands and using hand sanitizer are recommended.

The 26-mile paddling trail begins at Highway 6, and then ducks into Memorial Mews Park in Langham/South Mayde Creek for approximately 200 feet.  After returning to Buffalo Bayou, the trail then follows the bayou downstream to the takeout at Allen’s Landing.

The banks of Buffalo Bayou expose a beautiful geology of sand, sandstone and red Beaumont clay.  While some sections of the bayou are straight-cut with low embankments, other sections are serpentine with high cliffs.  Because the bayou offers little elevation change there are few riffles along the trail.  

Buffalo Bayou is a semi-natural stream with flow and water quality conditions that are influenced by water releases from Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, storm water runoff, sewage treatment plants, and natural springs. Trips should not be attempted in high and turbulent water conditions. Log jams, known as “strainers”, can be very hazardous and should be avoided; portage around them.

Fishing

The bayou supports numerous sunfish, bass and catfish. Small lures such as jigs, plastic worms, spinner baits and lite-line are recommended.  A fish consumption advisory was established for Buffalo Bayou and to determine the most current status, please contact the Department of State Health Services for more information at 512-834-6757 or see the web site, www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/, before eating fish caught on the bayou.

Wildlife and Ecology

Photos courtesy of Marina Rossow, Bayou Preservation Association

Buffalo Bayou has a great diversity of flora and fauna along its banks. Egrets, herons, hawks, and other birdlife are commonly seen. Rabbits, turtles, fishes, snakes, and even an occasional alligator might also be found along the bayou and the tributaries. The bayou has huge numbers of trees such as black willow, box elder, cottonwood, loblolly pine, and sycamore. It also has less common trees, like oaks and hickories and a surprising amount of understory. Like most urban streams, Buffalo Bayou has problems with invasive exotic plants and animals.

Private Property

Respect private property by not trespassing or littering and keeping noise levels down. This river is classified as navigable, which permits public use of the streambed and, if necessary, the banks to portage any hazard. Any other use of private river banks without permission of the landowner can be considered trespassing. Under Texas Penal Code (§30.05), criminal trespass occurs when one enters property after receiving notice not to enter. Notice includes verbal notice, a fence, sign(s), purple paint on posts or trees, or the visible presence of crops grown for human consumption.

Events & Attractions

For more information please see the Paddling Events calendar.

Discovery Green

Discovery Green is a 12-acre park in downtown Houston near the George R. Brown Convention Center where visitors can enjoy natural, recreational, art, dining and eco-friendly features, including a one-acre lake, a children’s playground, an amphitheater, dog runs, public art works, restaurants, an interactive water zone and more. Open daily from 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.
713-400-7336, www.discoverygreen.com

Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, founded in 1909, is one of the most visited museums in the country. Located inside Hermann Park, adjacent to the Sam Houston Monument, the museum is a five-venue complex. It houses the Challenger Center, the Wortham IMAX Theater, the Burke Baker Planetarium and the Cockrell Butterfly Exhibit. An additional four floors of natural science halls and exhibition space allow the museum to serve its mission to "Preserve and advance the general knowledge of natural science; to enhance in individuals the knowledge of and delight in natural science and related subjects; and to maintain and promote a museum of the first class."
713-639-4629; www.hmns.org

Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo, located inside Hermann Park, provides a fun, unique, and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge, and care for the natural world.
Essentially a small city encompassing a world of ecosystems and experiences, the Zoo provides housing, meals, medical care and even education for more than 4,500 permanent residents (the animals). About 1.6 million guests visit each year to experience the incredible variety of animals and ecosystems, as well as attend special private and public events and entertainment. The Houston Zoo was recently named one of the top 10 zoos in the country by Parents magazine.
713-533-6500; www.houstonzoo.org

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Founded in the 1900s, Texas' first municipal art museum houses a vast permanent collection of more than 27,000 pieces. Highlights include the Beck Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art, featuring creations by Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Paul Gaugin. The Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden is in a landscaped setting created by Isamu Noguchi for the museum's 19th- and 20th-century sculptures. The garden includes pieces by Auguste Rodin, Matisse, Alberto Giacometti and Frank Stella. The Glassell School of Art, established in 1927 as the teaching wing of the museum, presents exhibitions by its students and the best of today's Texas artists. The Audrey Jones Beck Building was designed by acclaimed Spanish architect Rafael Moneo and completed a 15-year period of growth for the museum.
713-639-7300; www.mfah.org

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

Located on the western edge of Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and the opportunity to experience the natural world. This 155-acre non-profit urban nature sanctuary provides education about the natural environment to Houstonians of all ages. It plays a vital role in protecting native plants and animals in the heart of the city where development threatens their survival. Visitors can explore nature by walking on trails (totaling 5 miles) free of charge. Each summer, children gain in-depth knowledge leading to life-long appreciation of the natural world through week-long Discovery Classes. Thousands of school children visit the Arboretum on field trips designed for their age and grade level. The Nature Center building includes the Discovery Room with interactive exhibits and activities and the Nature Shop filled with items for nature lovers of all ages.
713-681-8433; www.houstonarboretum.org

Partnership

This trail has been made possible through a partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Bayou Preservation Association, Harris County Precinct 3, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Harris County Flood Control District, Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston Canoe Club.

Bayou Preservation Association – www.bayoupreservation.org
Buffalo Bayou Partnership – www.buffalobayou.org
Houston Canoe Club – www.houstoncanoeclub.org

Shuttles & Rentals

Buffalo Bayou Shuttle Service

5868 A1 Westheimber Road #301
Houston, TX 77057
713-538-7433
Website: www.bayoushuttle.com

Whitewater Experience Inc.

6005 Cypress
Houston, TX 77074
713-774-1028
Website: www.whitewaterexperience.com

Southwest Paddle Sports

26322 I-45 N.
Spring, TX. 77386
281-292-5600
Website: www.southwestpaddlesports.com

Austin Canoe and Kayak

Rent kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards by the day to take anywhere you want, when you want. Locations in Austin, Houston and the San Marcos/New Braunfels area. For more information, visit http://www.austinkayak.com/rentals

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.)

Rent kayaks, canoes, paddles, and PFDs (personal flotation devices) 7 days a week at your nearest REI co-op.
For the closest Texas store, visit http://www.rei.com/FindStores?state=TX&radius=900


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