An Analysis of Texas Waterways
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A Report on the Physical Characteristics of Rivers, Streams, and Bayous in Texas
Seasonal and Restrictive Waterways of East Texas, Part 1
This section contains an analysis of those sections of rivers, streams, and bayous in East Texas which have been found to contain an insufficient flow of water for recreational use under normal conditions, or for various reasons could not be classified as a major waterway, and would be restricted to seasonal usage. It has been determined that these waterways contain the basic characteristics indigenous to all waterways in the eastern portion of the State. However, their suitability for recreational use and/or scenic attributes have been limited in some manner. It is with the realization that these rivers, streams, and bayous have potential for recreational use on a regional and local basis that this information has been provided.
Armand's Bayou (formerly Middle Bayou) is an excellent example of a scenic natural bayou in East Texas. The mean width of the bayou is about 40 feet; however, it widens into a poorly defined marsh in some sections. Water flow varies and the bayou becomes shallow at times. The bayou is unique in that it represents an unspoiled area of vegetation (including palmettos, oaks, Spanish moss, cattails, and flowering water plants) close to the Houston Metropolitan Area.
Only seasonal recreational use of Austin Bayou is possible because the bayou is narrow and has only a limited flow of water. However, a potentially good 10-mile segment exists in the vicinity of FM 2004. A typical scenic bayou of the coastal plains, Austin Bayou represents an important recreational resource to local residents.
A typical scenic coastal waterway, the 20-mile section of Bastrop Bayou from FM 2004 to FM 523, flows deep and contains sufficient water levels for recreational use at most times. The bayou provides valuable outdoor opportunities to local residents.
Madison and Walker Counties
Bedias Creek, between Madisonville and Huntsville, is a scenic waterway that provides valuable recreation opportunities. The stretch between US 75 and the Trinity River has been identified as being the most desirable stretch to recreationists, especially during periods of high water. Here, the creek is from 20 to 50 feet wide, consisting of long pools and short riffles. One considerable rapid makes a ten- foot drop over a lineal distance of approximately fifty feet and could be hazardous to the unwary. Along the banks, the creek is lined with oak, elm, willow, and pecan. The main channel in the upper reaches (near IH 45) is hard to distinguish during high water periods.
Tyler and Hardin Counties
Beech Creek is a narrow, spring-fed tributary of Village Creek. Beech Creek contains unpolluted, clear, cool water and white sand bars. This waterway has been proposed as one of the connecting corridors in the "String of Pearls" concept for a Big Thicket National Park. The banks of the creek are heavily vegetated and many log and brush jams are found, which result in the creek being difficult to float. However, the whole 23-mile section of Beech Creek from FM 1013 crossing in Tyler County to Village Creek in Hardin County is usable for float trips during periods of above-normal moisture. The lower 4-mile stretch, from a county road crossing off of US 287 and US 69 in Village Mills, (eight miles east of Village Mills), to the junction with Village Creek has been identified as the best stretch for recreational use during normal water conditions.
Big Cypress Creek
Big Cypress Creek is formed in northwestern Tyler County and flows approximately 25 miles southeastward to meet Turkey Creek. Water levels of the Big Cypress vary, but are suitable for recreational use most of the year. Many log jams which result in the creek being difficult to float are encountered. The scenic beauty and primitive nature of Big Cypress Creek is such that it has been proposed as a connecting corridor in the "String of Pearls" concept for a Big Thicket National Park. Here, the best section for recreational use is the 18-mile section from a county road crossing off FM 256 (six miles west of Woodville) to the US 69 and US 287 crossing (1 mile south of Hillister). Two additional reference points on this section are US 190 crossing (six miles west of Woodville) two miles downstream from the crossing off FM 256, and a county road crossing off of FM 256 (five miles southwest of Woodville) five miles downstream.
Big Cow Creek
Big Cow Creek rises in the northwest corner of Newton County and flows southeast approximately 90 miles to meet the Sabine River. The creek derives its water supply from the many spring-fed branches in the area. In the upper reaches, it flows through an area of rolling sandhills, open mixed forests, and scattered pine groves. The lower section flows through a bottomland area composed of beech and other species of hardwood and pine. Water flow is sufficient on most of the lower section for recreational use; however, the best section for recreational use is reportedly from SH 87 crossing (2 miles southeast of Newton) to the Sabine River.
Big Mineral Creek
Big Mineral Creek is located near Lake Texoma on the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge. The creek flows through thick woods and is seldom over fifty feet wide at any given point. Access to the creek is no problem, since the creek flows through the Wildlife refuge. Picnic tables, grills, and restrooms are made available to the public by the refuge. A 1.5 mile section of the creek has been proposed for marking as a canoe trail by the refuge.
Big Pine Creek
Red River County
Big Pine Creek flows through farming and ranching country interspersed with sections of bottomland hardwoods. The creek ranges in width from 30 to 45 feet, with the best section for recreational use beginning at FM 410 and ending at Highway 37 on the Red River, a distance of five miles.
Big Sandy Creek
Polk and Hardin Counties
Big Sandy Creek rises in northern Polk County and flows southeast into Hardin County where it joins Village Creek. Big Sandy's total length is approximately 40 miles. Flowing through the heart of the Big Thicket, this natural creek is recognized as an integral part of a unique ecosystem. The creek is from 10 to 30 feet wide, with heavy vegetation lining the banks. Steep banks exist at road crossings. The waters are clear and shallow, but passable at normal water levels. Numerous log jams are prevalent which result in the creek being difficult to float. However, at higher water levels, the submerged logs became a lesser problem and recreational use is feasible.
Waterway features and distance between each are as follows: FM 942 crossing - 8 miles east of Leggett (creek is very shallow and narrow), US 190 crossing - east of Livingston on the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation (7 miles), FM 1276 crossing - approximately 3 miles south of the Indian Reservation (the water has deepened considerably at this point) (6 miles), County Road - off FM 1276, six miles south of the Reservation (3 miles), FM 1276, crossing - 10 miles southeast of the Reservation (poor access is available) (5 miles), and US 69 & 287 crossing - 8 miles north of Kountze (16 miles). Approximately 2 miles below US 69 & 287, Big Sandy Creek joins Village Creek.
Bois D'Arc Creek
Bois D'Arc Creek, one of the major drainages of the Red River in Texas, maintains an average width of 75 feet from Highway 79 to its intersection with the Red River. This is normally enough water for recreational use of this two-mile stretch; however, the nearest road crossing on the Red River is Highway 281, approximately 40 miles downstream. Most of the time, the water in Bois D'Arc Creek is clear, and fishing is good. Also, good camping areas are available where Bois D'Arc Creek passes through Caddo National Grasslands (administrated by the U.S. Forest Service).
Buffalo Bayou begins in north central Fort Bend County and flows 65 miles southeast into Harris County where it forms a part of the Houston Ship Channel, eventually emptying into Galveston Bay. The bayou is floatable most of the year; however, it is extremely polluted. Buffalo Bayou flows through Houston, and numerous access points are available. The stretch from State Highway 6 to Loop 610 is reportedly the best section for recreational use.
Adequate water levels for recreational use are present in Caney Creek most of the year. The creek flows between a few high bluffs and rocks. A short segment from the Red River up Caney Creek to the low water crossing off FM 1753 and FM 274 is reportedly the most feasible for recreational use.
Catfish Creek is a scenic stream that has retained much of its natural character. The creek varies in width from 15 to 45 feet while meandering through typical East Texas bottomlands. The entire length is feasible for recreational use; however, overhanging willow and submerged logs often create unfavorable conditions, especially in dry seasons. The stretch from FM 321 to US 84 where Catfish Creek crosses the Trinity River is the best section for recreational use. Camping facilities are available at a number of unimproved, public campgrounds on the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area.
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