Collier's Ferry to Lake Bayou Paddling Trail

This 7-mile out-and-back loop trail gives visitors a chance to paddle through one of the remote and beautiful backwater channels of the biologically diverse Big Thicket National Preserve.

Getting There

Access site:

Collier's Ferry Park
5390 Pine Street
Beaumont, TX
(DD) 30.133, -94.096

Traveling north or south on US Highway 69/96 in Beaumont, take the Lucas Drive Exit and head east approximately 3 miles. Turn left heading north on Pine Street and continue straight just past the Beaumont Country Club to Collier's Ferry Park. Traveling west on IH-10 take the Pine Street Exit 855B and travel 2.83 miles just past the Beaumont Country Club to Collier's Ferry Park. Note: Pine Street dead-ends at Collier's Ferry Park.

Distance from nearest major cities:

  • Austin - 253 miles
  • Beaumont - 6 miles
  • Bryan/College Station - 188 miles
  • Dallas - 281 miles
  • Fort Worth - 303 miles
  • Houston - 89 miles
  • Huntsville - 111 miles
  • Lake Charles - 63 miles
  • San Antonio - 285
  • Waco - 241


Trail Description and Landmarks

Trail Length: 7-mile loop

Float Times:~2 - 5 hours (depending on wind speed, water levels, and time spent exploring)

The Collier's Ferry to Lake Bayou Paddling Trail is an out-and-back loop paddling trail. It is approximately 7 miles long. Paddlers float a short distance down the Neches River to Lake Bayou and into the Big Thicket National Preserve. This trail provides a great opportunity for paddlers to experience wildlife and ecology of the Preserve. Paddlers have the option to dock their boats on some parts of the trail and walk on the banks. The trail head and take-out at Collier's Ferry Park was the main ferry crossing on the Old Jasper Road and alternate crossing on the Opelousas Trail from Liberty through Beaumont to Louisiana. It was used as early as 1750 and the route followed Indian traces and was the "highway" for explorer-settlers, priests, soldiers, trades from Spain, France, and Anglo-America. The ferry's most important use was as a cattle crossing on the famous Opelousas Trail from 1820s to 1900. Herds came this way to bypass the streets of Beaumont. Although others ran it during its 1831-1950 career, the ferry crossing took its name from the John Collier family who operated it or 50 years.


The river and oxbow lakes throughout this area support both black largemouth and spotted bass. A favorite of Southeast Texas, you can also find blue, flathead (also called yellow), and channel catfish in these waters. This system is home to a variety of sunfish, along with alligator gar and long-nose gar. Small lures such as jigs, plastic worms, spinner baits and light-line are recommended. A Texas State Fishing License is required.

Wildlife and Ecology

The riparian corridor of the Neches River supports a diversity community of plant and animal life throughout the entire watershed. Birds spotted here include a large variety of migratory species including water fowl and waiting birds and song birds. An array of plants can be found along the river, including bald cypress, black tupelo, river birch and the occasional spider lily. Many reptiles and amphibians can be found in and around these waterways. Be especially cautious of the American alligator, alligator snapping turtle and water moccasin, also called a cotton mouth. If you spot any of these species, give them a lot of space and do not attempt to interact with them.

Private Property

Respect private property by not trespassing or littering and keeping noise levels down. This river is classified as navigable, which permits public use of the streambed and, if necessary, the banks to portage any hazard. Any other use of private river banks without permission of the landowner can be considered trespassing. Under Texas Penal Code (§30.05), criminal trespass occurs when one enters property after receiving notice not to enter. Notice includes verbal notice, a fence, sign(s), purple paint on posts or trees, or the visible presence of crops grown for human consumption.

Events & Attractions

For more information please see the Paddling Events calendar.

Collier's Ferry
Collier's Ferry Park is well maintained by the City of Beaumont. The launch area has 4 boat ramps, 5 piers, 2 boardwalks, grassy area, and small beach area. Park amenities include rest rooms, water fountains, picnic area, pavilion, 1.8-mile walking track, playground, and plenty of parking. This historic ferry crossing and city park is an excellent trail-head for this out-and-back loop paddling trail down the Neches River and into one of the Big Thicket National Preserve's backwater channels into the Thicket.

Big Thicket National Preserve
(409) 951-6700

Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau
(409) 880-3749;

Big Thicket Association/Neches River Adventures 
(Eco Tours on-board the Ivory Bill)
(409) 651- 5326;

Sea Rim State Park
(409) 971-2559;

Village Creek State Park
(409) 755-7322;


This trail was made possible through a partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Big Thicket National Preserve, Big Thicket Association, Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau, Lower Neches Valley Authority, and Texas Conservation Alliance.

Shuttles & Rentals

Services offered: Kayak Rentals, Canoe Rentals, Shuttle Services, Maps, Paddles, Lifejackets, Guided or Self-Guided Day Trips and Overnight Trips.  Services will vary with each outfitter.

Big Thicket Outfitters

115 Connolly Road, Vidor, TX 77662
(409) 786-1884;

Eastex Canoe Trails/Eastex Outfitters

50 Turtle Creek Dr., Silsbee, TX 77656

Austin Canoe and Kayak

Rent kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards by the day to take anywhere you want, when you want. Locations in Austin, Houston and the San Marcos/New Braunfels area. For more information, visit