Paddling Texas: New trails get you on the water
There are more than 15 major river systems and 3,700 named streams that meander through nearly 200,000 miles of Texas landscape. But finding a place to put in or take out a kayak or canoe can be difficult since much of the land on both sides of the bank is privately owned. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) created a plan to get people on the rivers using a series of paddling trails near urban areas.
“Kayaking in the state of Texas has exploded," explained Ron Smith who serves on the TPWD paddling planning team. "We’re trying to develop a large inventory of paddling trails with lots of different venues, so we can reach a wide audience with a healthy outdoor experience.”
Each paddling trail starts at a public put-in with easy access and signs provide trip details.
The first “official” Texas paddling trail was Lighthouse Lakes established in 1999 along the coast of Aransas Pass.
In Houston, the Buffalo Bayou paddling trail meanders right through the heart of the city while in Austin the Ladybird Lake trail sits right downtown. But one of the truly unique jewels of the paddling trail system is the Upper Guadalupe River between San Antonio and Austin, an endless maze of creeks and lakes.
With a kayak or canoe, private property makes getting in and out of the water a little tricky. The paddling trails create established places for that, getting folks out on the water and respecting nearby landowners at the same time.
Currnetly 38 paddling trails exist in the state, Texas Parks and Wildlife has named “paddling” the outdoor activity of the month for July.
Editor's note: The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department produces these multi-media reports as an educational resource.