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HomeNL-2012-06 Picketts Bayou

Pickett's Bayou
April 22nd, 2012
Dave Kitson

I have thought for some time that, based on Google Earth, it would be possible to do a trip from the put in at Picketts Bayou next to Champion Lake to the take out at Old River and the 1409 bridge.  The trip would be Picketts Bayou south to the Cut Off, then west on the Cut Off to Old River and then north on Old River to 1409.  This would be about an 11.5 mile trip but most of the time the east end of the Cut Off flows toward Old River (It gets it’s water from the Trinity) so in effect the trip would be shorter.  The problem is that on Google Earth there appears to be fallen trees.  If this is true and it is not possible to get past the tree it would be a long paddle against the current back to Picketts.

Joe was willing so on April 22 we set out south on Picketts.  We had a perfect spring day for it and there was plenty of water on Picketts, in fact the sand island about ¾ of the way down was covered.  The forest on the east side of the Bayou floods and was ‘Water Falling” out to the bayou in several places.  Picketts is mostly wide but the southern ¼ mile or so gets tight making for a nice change into a shady forest canopy.  We got to the Cut Off and took the right turn to the west.  The flow was moderate at maybe 1.5 mph so we were not too worried about making it back if need be.  This section is very beautiful forest with little in the way of civilization. 

Pickett's Bayou   Waterfall
Photos by Dave Kitson
  The cut-off

Photo by Joe Coker
We had gone about 1/3 of the way down the river when we encountered what I was concerned about.  A large tree, maybe 50’, spanned across the river.  At this point there were pilings left from an old bridge and the tree had caught on piles on both banks. The water was flowing under the tree and around both sides at a considerable rate.  There was no place that appeared safe since these kinds of strainers can be deadly.  The banks here were mostly 6’ high or there abouts and were almost perfectly vertical so getting in and out of the boats was not possible except for a small creek just upstream.  I got out here and walked as carefully as possible thru a field of poison ivy over to the river.  After exploring a ways downstream it was obvious that there was no easy way to get back in the boats downstream if we portaged.  It might have been possible to bull our way around the left side but the concern was that if we encountered another one of these downstream that was impossible to get around we would not be able to get back around this obstruction from the downstream side.  After about an hour trying to figure out a solution we decided that this was a chainsaw problem and turned back.

Flow restrictor
Photo by Joe Coker

The trip back upstream was really pretty easy against the 1.5 mph current so we went past the Picketts entry to the flow restrictor a half mile or so towards the Trinity.  The current was not too bad thru the restrictor on this day but I have seen days when it was absolutely evil.  We floated back downstream and explored a couple of small side channels along the way.  At one point Joe found a spot where beavers had cut down a group of small trees about 1” in diameter.  Their teeth make a very obvious pattern on the cuts.

  Joe Coker
Photo by Dave Kitson
After that it was back to the put in to reverse shuttle the cars.  The day turned out to be 12.9 miles and 6.2 hours and was perfect even counting the fact that we failed to do what we had intended.  We talked to some fishermen who said that it is possible to do the trip so maybe it was just bad luck.  In any event, this would make a great out and back trip if the flow is moderate.  If the flow is a little more than moderate a trip upstream past the flow restrictor (Which is a bear) and to the Trinity is a great out and back trip.

The author,
Dave Kitson