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 2
Liberty, Harris, and Chambers Counties
Cedar Bayou meanders through the coastal plains of Southeast Texas, intersecting woods, marshes, and lagoons. The estuary at its mouth is an important spawning area for fish, shrimp, and oysters. The entire area is a winter feeding and nesting area for ducks, geese, and various aquatic birds. Even bald eagles have been sighted in the area. Approximately 40 miles of the bayou are feasible for recreational use. However, the best section is a short stretch from Roseland Park in Baytown to the county park at Highway 46 crossing.
Harris and Galveston Counties
Clear Creek is an extremely scenic waterway, passing through a heavily vegetated region. The lower 12-15 miles are suitable for recreational use. Reportedly one of the best sections is between Galveston County Park and FM 528 crossing in Friendswood. Here, the creek is lined with thick vegetation.
Coffee Mill Creek
Coffee Mill Creek, from 0.5 mile west of Highway 2029 to Coffee Mill Lake (2.5 miles), is suitable for recreational use nearly year round (with the exception of extremely dry periods). Campsites area abundant since the creek passes through Caddo National Grasslands.
The lower six miles of Denton Creek below Grapevine Reservoir are a favorite section for recreational use. Usually the water level is low and a slow current is present. The minimum, mean, and maximum water flows for recreational use are 60, 100, and 300 cubic feet per second (CFS), respectively. Some good rapids are present. Submerged logs and overhanging branches often result in the creek being difficult to float. Access to the creek is often obtained at FM 2499 below Grapevine Dam and at the FM 1380 crossing of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.
Brazoria and Galveston Counties
Dickinson Bayou rises in eastern Brazoria County and flows east into Galveston County, eventually entering Galveston Bay. Totaling in length approximately 20 miles, it is unlikely that the upper reaches are suitable for recreational use because of its narrow width and insufficient flow. A scenic 13.5 mile section exists from the Cemetery Road off FM 517 to SH 146 in Galveston County. This is a slow-moving section of the bayou which primarily flows through virgin coastal prairie.
Double Bayou, East Fork
The East Fork of Double Bayou is a scenic, winding watercourse in Chambers County. The last seven miles, from the FM 562 crossing to Galveston Bay, is suitable for recreational use. However, access near Galveston Bay is somewhat of a problem. By shortening the section to four miles, it would be possible to obtain access to a surfaced road off of FM 562. The four-mile segment takes approximately two and one-half hours to float. The upper reaches of the bayou are also feasible for recreational use.
A potentially good section for recreational use on the still water of Highlands Bayou exists from SH 6 to FM 2004. This segment would require about three and one-half hours to float.
Lake Charlotte Creek
A good section for recreational use of Lake Charlotte Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River, is located below Lake Charlotte, approximately 3 to 4 miles north of IH 10. This 2 to 3 mile stretch reportedly provides adequate water levels to support recreational use during periods of sufficient rainfall. (May be known as Lake Pass.)
Little Cypress Bayou
Upshur, Gregg, Harrison, and Marion Counties
Little Cypress Bayou (also called Little Cypress Creek) is a natural waterway flowing through the pineywoods of East Texas. Reportedly, the best section for recreational use is from SH 155 in Upshur County to US 59 between Harrison and Marion Counties (see map and analysis of Big Cypress Bayou.) Little Cypress Bayou flows through some primitive wilderness areas of sweetgum, post oak, pin oak, and cypress. Deer, bobcat, raccoon, mink, nutria, squirrels, and many waterfowl are often sighted along this bayou. Where the bayou drains into Caddo Lake, camping is available at Caddo Lake State Park.
Hill, Limestone, Robertson, Leon, Brazos, Madison, and Grimes Counties
The Navasota River originates in southeast Hill County and flows approximately 125 miles south to join the Brazos River. Two impoundments are located on the Navasota in Limestone County. Lake Mexia is located a few miles north of Groesbeck while the second impoundment, Ft. Parker State Park Lake, is formed approximately 8 miles downstream from Lake Mexia. Two smaller, low water dams are located at one-mile intervals below Ft. Parker State Park. The Navasota River is a natural, free-flowing, narrow stream enclosed by dense hardwood forests of oak, hickory, elm, pecan, sweetgum, and redbud. However, the river below the series of dams has an insufficient flow to support extensive recreational use except during periods of consistent rainy weather. As the river nears its confluence with the Brazos, it maintains a better flow, and recreational usage is more feasible.
Oyster Bayou is a scenic coastal bayou from FM 1985 to East Bay. The bayou is about 100 feet wide, is very slow-moving, and always has sufficient water for recreational use. Cane and brush often line the banks. The bayou passes through Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, and many species of waterfowl can be sighted. Nutria are plentiful and the refuge maintains a stable population of alligators, some of which can be seen while floating Oyster Bayou. Also, the refuge is one of the last remaining strongholds of the endangered red wolf. An alternate access point is located on the refuge where an irrigation ditch is dug from the bayou to the headquarters area. A dirt road on the refuge goes almost to the mouth of Oyster Bayou at East Bay. This bayou serves as an excellent example of a coastal bayou and recreational usage is highly feasible.
Oyster Creek is a potential recreational waterway from SH 25 (west of Angleton) to FM 523 (just northeast of Freeport). Flowing through the heavily populated coastal region, the creek empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The section between SH 25 and FM 523 is about 25 miles in length.
The best section of Sanders Creek for recreational use is reportedly, the 3 to 4 mile section from FM 1499 to Pat Mayse Reservoir. Stream width is approximately 25 to 30 feet on this section. Another 4 to 5 mile segment, from Pat Mayse Reservoir Dam to the US 271 bridge on the Red River can also support recreational use during periods when water is being released from the reservoir. The creek is 30 to 45 feet wide and runs through bottomland hardwood and Red River farmlands.
San Jacinto River, East Fork
San Jacinto and Liberty Counties
The East Fork of the San Jacinto River is formed in San Jacinto County and flows 46 miles into Harris County where it joins the West Fork and creates Lake Houston. The waterway retains most of its natural characteristics as it flows through Sam Houston National Forest. Areas within the National Forest provide potential access to the river. The East Fork is extremely narrow and shallow and does not normally have sufficient water for recreational use. However, during heavy rains this section of the river is sometimes utilized for float trips. Overhanging branches and log jams are prevalent along the East Fork and reportedly hinder navigation during periods of high water.
Montgomery and Harris County
Forming the boundary line between Montgomery and Harris Counties, Spring Creek flows through an area of mixed pines, oaks, and hardwoods before it empties into Lake Houston. The section between Interstate Highway 45 and US 59 has been determined suitable for recreational use except during periods of exceptionally dry weather. The creek is relatively narrow and log jams often make navigation difficult.
Recreational use of Taylor Bayou is feasible from the county road crossing off of SH 73 (seven miles west of Beaumont) to SH 73 crossing (on the western edge of Beaumont). Taylor Bayou meanders through scenic tree-lined banks. Here, an abundance of wildlife, especially waterfowl, exist and are often sighted by recreationists. The J. D. Murprhee Wildlife Management Area is located nearby.
Tyler and Hardin Counties
Joining Village Creek in north central Hardin County, Turkey Creek is a 30-mile long watercourse in Tyler and Hardin Counties. This creek has been proposed as a connecting corridor in the "String of Pearls" concept for a Big Thicket National Park. Here, there is adequate water for recreational use almost year round. Log and brush jams are prevalent and often hinder navigation on the waterway.
Waterway features are: County road crossing - one mile west of Doucette, US 69 crossing - north city limit of Woodville, US 190 crossing - east city limit of Woodville, County road crossing off US 69 and US 287 - three miles southeast of Woodville, County road crossing off US 69 and US 287 - three and one-half miles southeast of Woodville, County road crossing off FM 1013 - two miles northeast of Hillister, FM 1013 crossing - two miles east of Hillister, County road crossing off FM 1013 - two and one-half miles southeast of Hillister, FM 1943 crossing - three miles east of Warren, County road crossing off FM 1943 - six miles southeast of Hillister, and County road crossing off US 69 and US 287 - four miles northeast of Village Mills.
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