Port O'Connor Paddling Trail

The Port O'Connor Paddling Trail consists of three shorter 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. If you follow this trail to signs # 12, # 28, then #27 you intersect the North Loop Trail(4.82 miles). You can then follow this trail along the Matagorda Island shoreline to Lighthouse Cove, near the historic Matagorda Island Lighthouse. Then follow the shoreline to the trail's end at sign #35. The trail terminates near the picnic area on Matagorda Island that is managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a Wildlife Management Area.


Getting There

Map showing Port O'Connor Paddling Trail location on the coast just east of Houston

From Houston:

  1. Take Hwy 59 south toward Victoria
  2. Just before you get to Victoria, take Loop 175 (south)
  3. Travel approximately 7 miles to Hwy 185
  4. Proceed southeast on Hwy 185 for approximately 26 miles to Seadrift
  5. Continue on Hwy 185 east for 15 miles to Port O'Connor

From San Antonio:

  1. Take Hwy 87 east to Victoria
  2. In Victoria, follow Hwy 87 until it intersects with Hwy 185
  3. Take Hwy 185 southeast for approximately 26 miles to Seadrift
  4. Continue on Hwy 185 east for 15 miles to Port O'Connor

Put-in and Take-out:

  • The Fishing Center
    28° 26.318' N, 96° 24.841' W
    The best place to put-in is the Fishing Center. The Fishing Center is located on 13th Street in Port O'Connor. When you enter Port O'Connor on State Hwy 185, watch for 15th street on your right. Turn right (south) on 15th Street and follow the road until it dead ends into Water Street. Turn left on Water Street and follow it approximately 100 yards. The Fishing Center is on your right. The Center charges $3.00 to launch motor boats and $1.50 to launch canoe and kayaks. To get to the paddling trail, paddle across the Intracoastal Waterway and enter Fisherman's Cut. The first paddling trail sign (#1) is on your left.
  • Froggies
    28° 25.917' N, 96° 25.975' W
    An alternative put-in is the public ramp at the end of Bayer Street, 2 blocks south of highway 185. Froggies Bait is adjacent to the ramp. This free ramp is about 1/2 mile down the Intracoastal Canal from Fisherman's Cut.

Distance from nearest major cities:

  • Dallas - 340 miles
  • San Antonio - 158 miles
  • Corpus Christi - 96 miles
  • Houston - 147 miles
  • Victoria - 47 miles
  • Austin - 169 miles

Maps

GPS coordinatesView Global Positioning System (GPS) points for Port O'Connor Paddling Trail


Color Satellite map of Port O'Connor Paddling Trail. Click to view PDF.
media download(PDF 141.2 KB) This map is also available in a durable laminated version from select retailers. To get a list of these retailers contact Shoreline Publishing at 713-973-1627.


Trail Description and Landmarks

Trail Length: variable
Paddling Time: variable

The paddling trail winds through several bayous and across open water and eventually ends at the campground at Matagorda Island. If you follow the Fishpond Trail the distance to the Island is 12.3 miles. If you want a shorter paddle try the North Loop (4.82 miles) or the South Loop (8.28 miles). Regardless of your route, the trails are interconnected. Because of the distance to the island, a roundtrip to the island in one day is not recommended. Camping is available at the campground.

Safety

Wear your lifejacket, and take plenty of sunscreen and insect repellant. Plan your trip to make sure you have plenty of water. Watch for faster moving powerboats and oyster reefs that can damage your kayak. Check the tides before you depart, since some trails may not be floatable at low tides, and always know the local weather forecast.

Matagorda Island

The paddling trail ends at Matagorda Island. The 56,688-acre island is a Wildlife Management Area that is cooperatively managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The island is approximately 38 miles long and from one to four miles wide.

Use of the picnic area near paddling sign #35 is permissible for day-use as long as you stay in the campground area. While there are picnic tables at the site, there is no water or restrooms. If you choose to camp overnight or you want to hike, bike or tour the island for any reason, you must possess either a Limited Public Use Permit or an Annual Public Hunting Permit. The permits can be purchased at any place that sells hunting or fishing licenses. For questions about rules governing use of the island, contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at 979-244-7697.

Wildlife and Ecology

The small islands that border the trail and Matagorda Island support a wide variety of shore and migratory birds and 19 federally listed threatened or endangered species. The area is known for producing redfish, speckled trout, drum and other popular fish. Trout and large redfish are commonly caught all year long. Adding to the variety, a large heard of whitetail deer can sometimes be seen on Matagorda Island, along with the occasional alligator.

Conservation

Coastal waters and their associated bays, estuaries, and wetlands are mixing zones for fresh and saltwater. These areas not only enhance water quality by assimilating domestic waste and controlling erosion but they also provide invaluable habitat for juvenile shell and game fish (or finfish) during their early life stages. These areas also support various municipal and industrial facilities and support diverse fish and wildlife, fishing, hunting, and other recreational activities which positively affect Texas' economy. Freshwater inflows must be maintained in order to produce balanced salinity levels. Conservation of our bays and estuaries can be furthered through efforts to preserve and restore wetlands and seagrasses to reduce erosion, filter pollutants and improve water quality. Conservation of these areas ensures that the natural heritage of Texas is protected for future generations.

Respect Private Property

While many coastal paddling trails are adjacent to public lands, some are adjacent to private property. Respect private property by not trespassing or littering and keeping noise levels down. Use of private land adjacent to the water 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.

Paddling Trail Events

See TPWD Calendar for Paddling Events

Partnership

The department is currently looking for a local partner to help maintain the trail. If you and your organization would be interested in participating, contact Bob Spain at 512-389-4635.

Rentals & Shuttles

Coastal Bend Marine

1808 West Adams Avenue
P.O. Box 301
Port O'Connor, Texas 77982
(361) 983-4841

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.php

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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