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HomeNL-2014-05 Pickett's Bayou

Pickett's Bayou - The Cutoff - Dave's Cut
April 10th, 2014
by Joe Coker

Participants: Joe Coker, Dave Kitson, Bruce Bodson and Kenny Pape

Our trips on Pickett's Bayou are always interesting but rarely seem to go as originally planned. This latest adventure was no different. Our intention was to head over to the Cutoff and out through the Flow Restrictor to the Trinity where we might have chosen any number of good options. However, things didn’t quite work out that way.


It was a perfect spring day. Blue sky, lots of leafy green, temp in the 70’s and moderate winds out of the SE. After a bit of a late start, we were finally underway around 11:00 am and made the roughly 3 mile jaunt down Picketts to the Cutoff in good time (about 1 hr.). As usual, we particularly savored passing through Linda’s Narrows, the prettiest part of that section, where the bayou thins down to 15-20 feet and the trees form a beautiful green canopy... one of the coolest spots in the Trinity Basin. On particularly high water days, it’s possible to follow the channel straight ahead through another beautiful, rarely seen section which continues directly onward eventually reaching the Cutoff right below the Flow Restrictor. On this day however, the water level was barely average (about 1.6 ft. at the Cutoff Gauge) so that route was impassable. Instead, as usual, we made the sharp right turn and cut through the pipeline passage over to the Cutoff. From there (turning left), it’s little more than half a mile up to the Flow Restrictor. No problem. Except when we got there it was CLOSED! The still water on the Cutoff at the pipeline crossing should have been an obvious clue. When the Trinity is flowing and the restrictor is open, there is usually very substantial current on the Cutoff. Oh well.


Emblazoned on the metal barrier of the restrictor is “Lee’s Gate”. I wonder if he’s related to Linda of “Linda’s Narrows”? Not nearly as pretty!


Anyway, we floated around there for a while contemplating our options. Portaging from the deep water wasn’t particularly appealing. So, we gave up on trying to reach the Trinity. With our original plans foiled, we decided to head back down the Cutoff to the Log Jam and take the left fork over into Dave’s Bayou hoping to perhaps be able to make the crossing over to Lost River.


The trip down was very nice as usual... about 2 miles. With no current to help us along but paddling at a firm rate, it took only about 45 minutes to reach the Log Jam. Those of you who helped clear that major blockage back on 6/24/12 will be happy to know that the results of our efforts still stand. The center has become obstructed again, but you can still get through on either side... particularly on river right where John Rich “blasted” out the opposing willows to open the channel (Yay, John... They haven’t dared to grow back!)


Just beyond the Log Jam, the Cutoff forks. The righthand main channel continues on down eventually intersecting with Old River (about 5.2 miles). The left fork (Dave’s Cut) meanders about .80 miles eventually reaching Lost River. On the outside bank of the final main turn to the left is a nice spot (Dave’s Beach) to stop for a break. The last few hundred yards beyond that point over to Lost River is the hard part, but the prettiest.


Dave and I first blazed the trail back in January 2013. At that time, it was seriously clogged with logs and almost impassable. But after much pushing and shoving we managed to plow through to Lost River. What a treat! Even though it was winter, we could tell by the thick growth along the shore and the tree canopy that it would be a beautiful passage when everything was leafed-out. We’ve been back twice since then trying to repeat the route, but the narrow channel is obviously prone to blockage, and we’ve failed on both attempts. On the first one it was totally blocked right at the entrance, and on this latest try, although we managed to get maybe half way through, we finally were forced to turn around. The obstructions weren’t bad though. If we’d had a saw and a little more time (and John and Charles Zipprian!), no doubt we could have made it. Tempting as it was to keep at it, with the afternoon fading and a long paddle home, we decided to leave it for another day.


The return trip seemed endless, as usual. Bruce, with his powerful paddling and fast boat easily left us in the dust as we plodded back up Picketts. The afternoon light on the bayou was pretty though and a good following breeze helped us along. It was at least 4:00pm by the time we took out. All in all, a really great day... 13 miles total.


Along the way, we talked about some future paddles we’d like to do out there. Picketts offers so many options... Not only a variety of out and backs, such as this one, but also some other epic paddles involving a shuttle:
  • Picketts to Cedar Hill on Lake Charlotte via the Trinity and The Sulfur Cut--10 miles.
  • Picketts to Cedar Hill on Lake Charlotte via the Trinity and Lake Pass--14.6 miles.
  • Picketts to Square Lake (Trinity Bridge W. Bank) via Dave’s Cut and Lost River--10.5

    This route offers the option of cutting over to the north end of Wiggins Bayou via Joe’s        

    Pass and down to Lost River.

  • Picketts to Square Lake via the Cutoff, Lost Lake Cut and across Lost Lake--10.5 mi.

    The option of putting in at Old River (1409 Bridge) and reaching Lost Lake Cut from             

     the west end of the Cuttoff saves a couple miles.

All pics from our 4/10 trip can be found on the HCC website here.

The author, Joe Coker