Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail - 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.

Getting There

Three access sites:

Put-in: FM 2004 boat ramp
GPS Coordinates (DD): 29.031604, -95.477070

Take-out: Freeport Municipal Park boat ramp
GPS Coordinates: 28.964622, -95.374267

Driving Directions to Access Sites:

Put-in: FM 2004 boat ramp
From SH 36 south of Brazoria, turn east on FM 2611.  Cross bridge then turn left onto boat ramp access road. 

From SH 288, turn west on FM 2004.  Follow past SH 332 (FM 2004 becomes FM 2611.  Turn right onto boat ramp access road just before the bridge.

Take-out: From SH 288 (Brazosport Blvd.) in Freeport, turn west and cross levee directly across the street from the old Shrimp Boat on display near the police station. Follow shell road to boat ramp.

Distance from nearest major cities:

  • Austin - 190
  • Corpus Christi - 176
  • Dallas - 294
  • Galveston - 52
  • Houston - 54
  • San Antonio - 222


Trail Description and Landmarks

Trail Length: ~9.8 miles

Float Time: ~4-5 hours (depending on water level, flow rate and wind speed)

At low to moderate flow, paddlers will encounter sweeping bends with numerous drift areas and some sandy beaches. Be careful of quicksand along the banks. Although there are no man-made obstructions on this reach, there may be snags to avoid, especially when water levels are low.

This section of the Brazos River is a natural river that is unrestrained by flood control dams or other manmade structures. As such, the Brazos River is readily influenced by rainfall runoff that may create high flows and undesirable water quality conditions. Due to the vast length and extensive basin area of the Brazos River, rainfall does not have to be in the immediate area to significantly impact this section of the river. Flow and water quality information is available to paddlers on the web at

Landmark: The Freeport Municipal Park boat ramp lies on the left bank of a fairly straight section of the river, which in this section is bounded on both sides by levees. The Freeport High School stadium lights can be seen above the levee behind the boat ramp.

Find information on three additional paddling trails along the Brazos River that are connected to this trail at the following websites: Columbia Bottomland Waterway, Old Settlement Passage, and Sugar Mill Stretch.


This section of the river supports numerous freshwater species of catfish, sunfish, and alligator gar; as the river moves toward high tide, the influx of saltwater brings with it redfish, sand trout, flounder, and other saltwater fish. Small lures such as jigs, plastic worms, spinner baits and light-line are generally recommended.

Wildlife and Ecology

The riparian corridor of the Brazos River supports a great diversity of plant and animal life along the river and beyond the banks. Birds spotted here include many species of migratory birds which vary according to the season. Several varieties of native trees grow along the river, including live oak, ash, pecan, cottonwood, cypress, and elm. Common wildlife encountered include alligators, deer, and small mammals. It is not unusual to see livestock watering in the river.

Private Property

Respect private property by not trespassing or littering and keeping noise levels down. This river and lake are 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.

Sea Center Texas (Lat. 29.017635; Lon. -95.445882)
300 Medical Dr., Lake Jackson. Operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife, Sea Center Texas is a popular marine aquarium, fish hatchery, and nature center. Visitor-friendly; kid-friendly.

Lake Jackson Historical Museum (Lat. 29.039108; Lon. -95.450527)
249 Circle Way, Lake Jackson. Interesting museum focuses on the development of Lake Jackson from prehistoric times through the plantation, petrochemical, and modern eras.

Brazosport Museum of Natural History
(Lat. 29.046091; Lon. -95.406107) 400 College Blvd., Clute. Home to the largest seashell collection on display in the southern United States. Also features dinosaur skeletons and other rare fossils. Fantastic butterfly exhibit.

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory (Lat. 29.049136, Lon. -95.476223)
103 W. Hwy 332, Lake Jackson. Interpretive and research centers for migratory birds and habitat.


This trail was made possible through a partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Brazoria County Parks Department, and the City of Freeport.