Bayous of Texas

Finally got out this past weekend. My first trip of the year, due to a combination of work and weather, just in time for it to get too hot.
Saturday drove down to Turtle Bayou, east of Houston. A lovely spot with the one blight being that you can hear I10. Scooted down the bayou and into Lake Anahuac. Anahuac, btw, is known as the “Alligator Capital of Texas”.

I guess the lake was unusually high?

As I like to do, I poked my head into a little side channel and was greeted with a very loud, very deep roar/growl. It came from the depths of the swamp and was maybe 20-30 yards away. I Googled later and, yes, although Alligators do not have vocal chords, they do make just this sound, usually when mating. So, she either wanted to mate with my Prana, or, I assumed, was telling me to “please depart”, which I did, hastily.

Saturday night sunset over Trinity Bay.

Sunday I had planned to do the Trinity Bay to Trinity river loop, but it was a little bit windier than I’d hoped, so changed plans to go to Double Bayou instead. This was a good call…very quiet, lots of nature, and a few intriguing man made distractions…

Nobody home, but how did it get there?

Some derelict shrimp boats. There was a section with 4 derelict sailboats too. Why?

I saw about a dozen gators, but only one was above about 3 ft. Here’s a small one that let me get close-ish. There were Gar fish everywhere, and plenty of birds. Mercifully, and surprisingly, no mosquitos!

At the turnaround point, Double Bayou park, the county had installed a Canoe and Kayak only boat ramp. Never seen one before but it was great, especially launching back in - get set and just push (backwards for me), Splash…it was like launching the QE2. No scratches or scrapes, super easy. Thanks Chambers County!

The magnolias were in bloom…

After 10 miles of nature and beauty, take out was back at the Oak Island park, next to the marine salvage yard…hey, at least there was some grass!

Not sure when I’ll get out again. June onwards can be no fun down here, but next year…retirement! Maybe one more trip before the blast of summer?


I didn’t do much paddling when I lived there but paddled Lake Houston and the San Jacinto because our neighborhood had access to both.
I do not miss that muddy water.

Looks like a great paddle!

Two observations since I too live along I-10 along the northern Gulf of Mexico:

  1. This is nesting season for gators. Momma’s get very defensive about their nests. The hiss you heard was probably you getting too close to a nest. I stick to bayous/rivers that have an observable flow (even a tidal flow in/out is ok) from very late April through July. Basically avoid still, remote backwater areas this time of year.
  2. Beware launching composite kayaks from those “nice” ADA friendly kayak launches. It is ok to slide the kayak in/out of them, however if you are also in the kayak, be prepared to overstress the fiberglass or C/K hull. The cracking sound you hear is your hull being damaged. Plastic boats are more forgiving on those ADA ramps. If you paddle a composite kayak, highly suggest you enter or exit the kayak only when it is floating free of the ramp.

Thanks for the info Kayakhank. This ramp seemed to work well, the slope and level in the water maybe helped, but it seemed smooth and stress free (on the boat), but I get what you’re saying - you don’t want the kayak supported on each end with a lump of weight (ie. me) in the middle. Noted, thanks.

Ditto on the gators…not sure I’ll be back in gator infested waters anytime soon. Except for that one “poke my nose in” the bayous had flows and were “open water”. Glad that she was polite enough to warn me!

Years ago, I paddled up the channel at Anahuac (between the San Jacinto and some backwaters.) About two hundred yards into the canal, I saw a half-dozen 6 ft sized gators swimming back and forth across the water. The shores were two feet or so above my head.

I had no interest in trying to slide through…so…back I went to my starting point.

People who don’t live in this type of area just don’t understand gators; jellyfish; sharks; oyster reefs, and snakes. Sure makes it interesting.

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I saw my first gator near Bastrop on the Colorado river. THAT was a surprise and I departed rapidly. She was a biggie. I wonder if she was a released pet, as that is rather far upstream.
My only injury has been those darn oysters though - a slice into my thumb, blood everywhere.