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Canoeing & Kayaking

Austin Bayou, Texas
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Copyright 2002 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Marilyn Kircus
  • Date Submitted: 1/2002
  • Location: Austin Bayou is near nothing, but the closest town is probably Lake Jackson, Texas USA
  • Class: 1 subject to wind blown waves
  • Distance Paddled: 7 miles
  • Water Level:
  • Water: fresh
  • Wildlife: Coots, unidentified ducks, white pelicans, great blue herons, snowy egrets, great egrets, red-tailed hawks, kestrels. Heard sandhill cranes and snow geese. This is a wildlife refuge and usually has better birding. But the water was up leaving no place for the birds to feed. All the wading birds should be expected, including roseate spoonbills and ibis. Ducks, geese and sandhill cranes winter here as well. Many of the rails and sandpipers can be found here as well. This is also habitat for short eared owls.
  • Special Regulations: none


  • Directions: Put in at junction of Hwy. 2004 and Austin Bayou. Take I-45 south from Houston to 2004. Exit and continue south past the intersection of Chocolate Bayou to Austin Bayou.
  • Fee: none
  • Description: Both had public boat ramps - I think the put-in and take-out might both have been made of asphalt. However, most of them were under water and we wanted to use the grassy areas to launch to protect our glass boats.
  • Parking: Just dirt and grass
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none


  • Directions: Can also take out or put in at junction of Bastrop Bayou and CR227.
  • Fee: none
  • Description: dirt boat ramp and dock
  • Parking: adjacent unpaved parking
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none

What We Saw

Three of us did a exploratory trip on Austin Bayou early in January, 2002. I got to the put-in early in the afternoon on a beautiful day with warm sun and cool winds. I found the bayou with high water from the rains the day before and with a unexpected strong current. We had planned to just do a down and back trip but that no longer looked easy. When Robert and Chris joined me, we decided to run a shuttle down to the next bridge, on CR227. We unloaded the boats and I waited with them while Robert and Chris ran the shuttle. After a few minutes, I got bored and decided to go out and play in my kayak. I found I could travel upstream fairly easily but not quickly. I discovered that there were canals leading into the bayou just north of the road and explored the canal for a little ways and then went back upstream a short ways.

I turned around to go back and when I got around a bend, I found them already back and loading their boats with gear. We finally got started about 2:00 P. M. We began our trip by investigating a canal on the south side of the road for a short ways. Then we came back out and immediately went into a little pond off the bayou where we found a empty boat house. The bayou runs though Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and this structure must be part of it. We disturbed two barn owls who flew out and disappeared over the marsh. Robert and Chris had to stop and take off their paddling jackets before we could go on. Then we moved back into the main bayou and started downstream.

The current was a joy to paddle in. Most of the time the wind was quartering at our backs and the current and wind combined to help us move about 2.4 mph while just floating. We tried to paddle as fast as we could and sometimes could get the GPS to read 8 mph. We flew past a varied and textured shoreline with a few live oaks, some other leafless trees covered with a silvery lichen, huge palmettos, small shrubs and tall grasses. Sometimes we passed what looked like prairies but was really marsh with dense grasses. Sometimes we passed higher ground where there really was a prairie, sometimes with cows grazing on it. We saw very few birds due to the high water but a few Eastern Phoebes kept us company near the beginning of the paddle. We occasionally spooked one or two ducks.

Further downstream we heard sandhill cranes calling but couldn't see them. We also heard geese which seemed to be sitting somewhere in the marsh. We did see two kettles of white pelicans flying high over the marsh and several groups of laughing gulls. We also saw a few great egrets and one great blue heron. We saw a few hawks stooping in the wind and a couple of harriers flying low over the marsh (but we saw many red-tailed hawks, several kestrels, lots of harriers and a few unidentified hawks on the trip to the put-in). This place should contain many more birds when the water is at it's normal level.

About an hour after we started and about 5 miles downstream, we found a little sand bar where we got out and took a rest break. From here we could barely see our take-out bridge. While there the second power boat went by us. I think we saw only three or four boats the whole trip. When we put back in, we paddled several broad curves of the bayou before finding ourselves back in civilization and seeing the first houses of the trip. All too soon we were paddling under the bridge and deciding to paddle a little further downstream. We paddled to an intersection and took the right side, which the map showed to be the old, curving channel. This had a row of pretty stilt houses next to it. It crossed a straight, manmade channel. After this, the land became wild again but the marsh now had the short marsh grass and not much plant variety. We paddled only a short way further before the guys overruled me about going any further and we turned back, this time paddling to the straight channel and going up it for a change of scenery. We paddled as hard as we could, into the current and the wind but the GPS said we were doing 2.5 miles. I was really glad not to have to paddle back up the bayou for the entire trip.

This is a nice trip to do in the fall, winter, and early spring when lots of birds are to be expected. It would be miserably hot in the late spring and summer.

Other alternatives involve putting in and going upstream and coming back or putting in at the take-out and going downstream and then coming back to the takeout. It is possible to paddle over to one of the bait shops with private boat launches just west of Galveston Island but this would involve a very long shuttle as well as a long paddling trip.

Maps: You can use The Roads of Texas to locate the put-in and take-out. The put-in is at the intersection of Austin Bayou and 2004. The takeout is at the intersection of CR227 and Bastrop Bayou. The take-out doesn't show on the state map. You could also use the Brazoria county map. For: Topo Map