Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail - Sugar Mill Stretch

Due to severe flooding in recent years, the boat ramp at CR 849 is not currently accessible. There are plans to rebuild this ramp, but for now, there is no access at this site. The distance from Bell’s Landing (the put-in for Old Settlement Passage) and FM 2004 boat ramp (the take-out for Sugar Mill Stretch) is 17.3 miles, which may be more than a full day’s paddle. Plan accordingly.

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 every day lives.

Getting There

Three access sites:

Put-in: CR 849
GPS Coordinates (DD): 29.048117, -95.534148

Take-out: FM 2004 boat ramp
GPS Coordinates: 29.031604, -95.477070

Driving Directions to Access Sites:

Put-in: CR 849
From SH 36 in Brazoria, turn east on FM 521; turn south on CR 400 (just before the bridge). Turn left at the third road (CR 849) and follow to end.

Take-out: 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.

Distance from nearest major cities:

  • Austin - 196
  • Corpus Christi - 171
  • Dallas - 300
  • Galveston - 59
  • Houston - 60
  • San Antonio - 217


Trail Description and Landmarks

Trail Length: ~6.9 miles

Float Time: ~3-4 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 man made 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 FM 2611 boat ramp will come into view on the left bank of the river upon sighting the highway bridge. 

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 Gulf Prairie Run.


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.

Levi Jordan Plantation Site (Lat. 28.998271; Lon. -95.647801)
FM 521 west of Brazoria, just past FM 524. A continuing restoration and archaeology project of the Texas State Historical Commission, this antebellum plantation was home to the Levi Jordan family during the Republic era and beyond.

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.

Brazoria Heritage Foundation
(Lat. 29.046865; Lon. -95.570991) F214 W. Smith St., Brazoria. Located in the historic 1930 Brazoria School, features a museum, performing arts area, meeting rooms, and hosts numerous community organizations.

Masonic Oak Park (Lat. 29.055883; Lon. -95.570073)
100 Pleasant Street, Brazoria. Site of organization, March 1835, the first Masonic Lodge in Texas, Holland Lodge, Brazoria. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.

1939 WPA Bridge
(Lat. 29.054284; Lon. -95.557247) FM 521 crossing the Brazos River. This historic second bridge to span the Brazos at Brazoria was built by the Works Progress Administration is being replaced by the new highway bridge. Only 18 similar structures remain in the state; this one will become part of a park and walking trail when the new bridge is completed.

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 and Brazoria County Parks Department