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Best Kayaking on the Upper Texas Coast

Best Kayaking on the Upper Texas Coast

Kayakers love the weather on the Upper Texas Coast. It’s kayak-friendly nearly year-round. So if you’re wondering what the best kayak spots on the Upper Texas Coast are, we’ve got you covered. 

Let’s start with Jefferson County with the Big Thicket National Preserve, operated by the National Park Service. This park offers three paddling trails and is spread across six counties, including Jefferson. They don’t provide kayaks or canoes, but there are nearby rentals. Another option is to rent equipment at Village Creek State Park. Check their calendar for ranger-led trips. No kayak rentals on site. 

Nearby Village Creek State Park offers a 21-mile paddling trail with multiple access points. This state park is home to more than 1,000 different flowering plants, hundreds of trees, more than 200 bird species, plus numerous mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and amphibians. Kayak rentals on site. 

And look for Sea Rim State Park in Sabine Pass in Jefferson County. You’ll find that the park has 5.2 miles of Gulf shoreline and 4,000 acres of marshlands. Alligators live in the park so we encourage you to read the park’s alligator safety tips. Kayak rentals on site.

Next up in Galveston County, look for the East End Lagoon Nature Preserve in Galveston. The Preserve offers 700 acres of diverse habitat on the barrier island’s east end. The Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council offers monthly guided trail walks. Kayakers can launch from the parking lot. Galveston’s Artist Boat also provides guided kayak tours in East End Lagoon and their Coastal Heritage Preserve. No kayak rentals on site. 

Galveston Island State Park is on the island’s west end. The Park offers three trails – Dana Cove Trail, Oak Bayou Trail, and Jenkins Bayou Trail. These trails are on the section of the park on bay side, which is north of FM 3005. You’ll also want to tour the beach side of the park, which is south of FM 3005. The State recently completed a $10.6 million redevelopment project at the park, including new campsites and three kayak launch locations. No kayak rentals on site. 

Clear Creek Paddle Trail in League City. The 6.5-mile trail is a partnership between the City of League City and Galveston County and combines the county park with two city parks to offer launch points. The start point is at Lynn Gripon Park and the end point is  at Heritage Park. No kayak rentals on site. 

In Brazoria County, look for the Sugar Mill Stretch of the Stephen F. Austin Trail on the Brazos River. This 6.9-mile paddling trail provides the shortest paddle of Brazoria County’s trails. This section of the Brazos is a natural river, so rainfall runoff may create high flows and undesirable water conditions. No kayak rentals on site. 

Another option in Brazoria County is the Gulf Prairie Run of the Stephen F. Austin Trail on the Brazos River in Lake Jackson. This section is a 9.8-mile paddling trail from FM 2004 in Lake Jackson to Highway 288 in Freeport and is where the historic Brazos River winds through the Columbia Bottomlands. This area has mixed hardwood forests stretching across the floodplains. According to the National Audubon Society, Bald Eagles are in this area. Columbia Bottomland Waterway and  Old Settlement Passage are also part of the Stephen F Austin Paddling Trail. No kayak rentals on site. 

As you make your way to Matagorda County, you’ll want to stop at the Matagorda Bay Nature Park, operated by the LCRA. The park offers kayak rentals for paddling in the river, and if you’re looking for a paddling trail, they recommend the nearby East Matagorda Bay Paddlesport Park. Kayak rentals on site.

Another option for Matagorda County is Riverside Park in Bay City. The Park is on the Colorado River and is south of LCRA Dam. In August 2017, the park was closed from damage sustained by Hurricane Harvey. However, the city completed a $1.2 million renovation to the park and reopened in July 2020. Kayak rentals on site.

This list offers just a sampling of things to do in the Upper Texas Coast. For more ideas, click Things to Do and search by category.  

Lone Star Coastal Alliance is committed to promoting nature and heritage tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities in Jefferson, Galveston, Brazoria, and Matagorda Counties. 

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