Paddling the Big Thicket

Two people kayaking among cypress trees.

NPS photo




The many miles of creeks, bayous, and river flowing through Big Thicket National Preserve make it an ideal place to explore by canoe and kayak. Numerous access points provide many different trip options for paddlers of all experience levels. Two official Texas Paddling Trails inside the preserve, the Village Creek Paddling Trail and the Cooks Lake to Scatterman Paddling Trail, offer clearly-defined routes to explore.

 

Village Creek Paddling Trail

The 21-mile Village Creek Paddling Trail winds past beautiful white-sand beaches and high banks lined with bald cypress, river birches, and other shade trees. Several access points along the creek allow paddlers to make trips of varying lengths, from 2.1 miles to all 21 miles. Camping is allowed on sandbars.

While generally very calm, Village Creek is a free-flowing waterway with no dams, so water levels can vary considerably. During low water levels, paddlers should expect to encounter exposed sandbars and logs. High water can create hazardous conditions. Check the water levels before setting out on your trip, and always wear a PFD (life jacket).


 

Cooks Lake to Scatterman Paddling Trail

This 4.8-mile paddling trail begins and ends at the LNVA Saltwater Barrier boat ramp, located at the end of Bigner Road in Beaumont. The trail goes north up the Neches River, left into Pine Island Bayou, north into Cooks Lake Bayou, then east through a maze of bald cypress and tupelo trees to Scatterman Lake. From there it goes south down the Neches River to the boat ramp. Take a map and the GPS coordinates for this trail, and look for signs on trees marking the route.

 

Camping

Camping is allowed on sandbars along Village Creek and the Neches River year-round. It is not allowed in the Beaumont Unit during hunting season. While the sandbars along the Neches River in the Neches Bottom and Jack Gore Baygall Unit are open to camping year-round, campers should use caution venturing beyond the sandbars during hunting season.

Permits are required for camping; these are available free of charge at the preserve visitor center.

 

Boat rentals

Local outfitters rent canoes and kayaks and provide shuttles. Please check online for a list of these services.

Big Thicket National Preserve offers free ranger-led canoe trips. Please refer to our calendar of events for upcoming trips.

Last updated: June 21, 2017

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Mailing Address:

6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625

Phone:

(409) 951-6800

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