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Matagorda Bay Parkers Cut

Coastal and Inland Paddling


Nine TPWD Paddling Trails along the Gulf Coast offer excellent paddling, birding and fishing opportunities. The Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trails offer paddling opportunities on four connecting trails along the Lower Brazos River. The San Jacinto and Lower Sabine, Neches and Trinity all offer excellent paddling opportunities.

Recreation and Access

Feature Runs and Paddling Trails

Sea Rim State Park – Sabine Pass [1.79-mile easy paddle trail and 9.59-mile advanced trail]

Armand Bayou Paddling Trail [Variable]

Buffalo Bayou Paddling Trail [26 miles total and 10 access points]

Christmas Bay Paddling Trail [3 trails: 19.1 miles, 10.3 miles, 3.8 miles loops]

Galveston Island State Park Paddling Trail [3 trails: 2.6, 2.8 and 4.8 miles loops]

Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail [4 trails: 1.25 miles to 6.8 miles loops]

Matagorda Bay Nature Park [At the mouth of Colorado River]

Video: How to Kayak Parker’s Cut [Matagorda Bay]

Mustang Island Paddling Trail [3 trails: 5.24 miles, 6.8 miles, 8.5 miles]

Port O’Connor Paddling Trail [6 trails over 40 miles]

Seadrift Paddling Trail [4 trails: 5.7 miles to 12.7 miles]

South Bay Paddling Trail [8 miles loop]

Stephen F. Austin State Park – San Felipe @ FM 1458 to I-10 Bridge [5 miles]

West Fork and San Jacinto River

  • Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trails [35.4 miles of paddling on four connecting trails along the Lower Brazos River]:
    • Columbia Bottomland Waterway Explore a wooded river escape on this 8.3 mile stretch of the Brazos River through the impressive Columbia Bottomland forests of Texas.
    • Old Settlement Passage Enjoy a longer paddle along the Brazos River with this 10.4 mile route that offers views of historic bridges along the trail amongst the Columbia Bottomlands.
    • Sugar Mill Stretch This 6.9 mile section provides the shortest paddle of Brazoria County’s trails, giving paddlers an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.
    • Gulf Prairie Run The Columbia Bottomland hardwoods open up to a section of the river with a more open coastal feel as you paddle this 9.8 mile trail heading into Freeport.

Conservation and Threats

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 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 sea grasses 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.

Natural Features

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, including pelicans, herons, egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, ducks, Sandhill Cranes, grebes, loons, gulls, terns, willets, curlews, and plovers. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is spotted along the trail, and a large heard of whitetail deer can sometimes be seen on Matagorda Island, along with the occasional alligator. The area is known for producing redfish, speckled trout and drum. Trout and large, strong redfish are commonly caught all year long at most of the paddling trails.

Additional Resources

Jayhawkers Canoe Trails (Sabine)

Gulf Area Sea Paddlers GASP!

Houston Area Sea Kayakers HASK

Houston Canoe Club

Houston Canoe Club (Facebook)

Greater Houston Kayakers, Paddlesports and Outdoors – #ghkpo (Facebook)

Galveston Bay Foundation

Bob Spain’s Canoeing Guide and Favorite Texas Paddling Trails (2018)

Canoeing and Kayaking Houston Waterways by Natalie Wiest (2012)