Presenter: Bill Harvey

Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Texas Coastal Paddling Trails
November 2002

I. Discussion: The back bays and estuaries along the Texas coast offer some prime outdoor experiences, from pristine shallow water fishing to spectacular birding. Until recently, a big obstacle for anyone new to the area has been access. The maze-like nature of these areas made navigation of many areas very difficult. However, creation of the Texas Coastal Paddling Trails has opened up six areas to safe recreational access.

The first of the six current sites—the Lighthouse Lakes Trails in Redfish Bay—was laid out and mapped in Redfish Bay in September, 1999. Located between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, the Lighthouse Lakes Trails were an immediate hit with anglers, birdwatchers and recreational paddlers. As a result, TPWD established five additional trails in 2002.

Here are the locations and a brief summary of each of the coastal paddling trails. Each of the trails is marked and mapped for easy and safe recreational access.

South Bay Paddle Trail
Located in an area of the Lower Laguna Madre, the South Bay Paddle Trail circumnavigates the “South Bay Coastal Preserve” located south of the Brownsville Ship Channel just outside Port Isabel.

Mustang Island Paddle Trail
The Mustang Island Paddle Trail snakes along the bay side of Mustang Island between Mustang Island State Park, past Shamrock Island and terminates near the south limit of the City of Port Aransas. This trail traverses some of the best wildlife habitat on the mid-coast and provides a roadmap for great saltwater fishing.

Lighthouse Lakes Paddle Trails
The Lighthouse Lakes Trails are a series of three intertwining trails that point the way for navigating the black mangrove estuary behind the Lydia Ann Lighthouse. The trails are just north of the HWY 361 causeway between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas. These trails are home to great paddling, fishing and birdwatching.

Port O’Connor Paddle Trail
The Port O’Connor Paddle Trail connects the City of Port O’Connor and the Matagorda Island State Park. This trail crosses some of the best fishing and paddling water in all of Texas. The trail is designed to allow paddlers the luxury of seeing some of Texas’ best saltwater habitat while avoiding the harsh wind that often visits the Texas Coast.

Christmas Bay Paddle Trail
Located just south of historic San Luis Pass, the Christmas Bay Paddle Trail circumnavigates the Christmas Bay Coastal Preserve. Like the other trails, it provides access to great fishing, paddling and birdwatching in a setting that is safe and fun.

Armand Bayou Paddle Trail
Located in the Clear Lake area, the Armand Bayou Paddle Trail provides access to Armand Bayou, the jewel of the Houston area nature centers. The trail provides access to miles of brackish water marsh where alligators and ospreys can be seen with regularity. Located only minutes from Houston, this trail is an excellent way to see the great outdoors without having to travel long distances.