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HomeNL-2016-12 Trinity

Trinity River downstream from I-10 to the Saltwater Barrier
November 17, 2016
by Author

This relatively short section of river had been calling for exploration for some time and when Dave Kitson expressed an interest in it checking it out I was only too happy to go. Thursday November 17 was the date, another beautiful day and not too windy as we knew there would be exposure on the wide river.

We set out from the public boat ramp on the south side of I-10, west bank of the Trinity River from the “Trinity River turnaround” exit of the eastbound interstate. There is a large dirt parking area there, heavily rutted but easily reachable by our cars and with a good concrete ramp to the water.


Both banks of the Trinity are wooded. This panoramic shot gives a pretty good idea of the scenery. Dave’s boat really doesn’t have that long a back end to it, we were both moving as I was shooting the panorama which caused the distortion.



The west bank of the Trinity is the Mayes Trace wildlife area. We drove the access road after our paddle trip and found it mostly hard packed but very lumpy/bumpy dirt road. At least two places there were nice observation platforms right on the water. We got out to check out this one, finding a nice boardwalk from there across the swamp with wading birds and wildflowers in bloom.


In contrast to the boot- and shoe-sucking mud of the Oyster Creek trip I just took, this access point had a nice firm sandy bottom and the platform was a great place to eat our lunches on the way back. We also had an interesting bird show going on in front of us: snowy egrets flying close to the water’s surface, slightly dragging their legs and periodically spearing into the water. We suspect many minnows died in this operation or any other small fish close to the surface. It was very interesting to watch and we saw it more than a few times.

Here are some swamp sunflowers along the boardwalk:


About 3.5 miles downstream is the saltwater barrier and locks to allow boat traffic to pass by. A large sign on the lock announces “Pull chain for lockage or call 409 389 2285” to pass through. We understand that the locks are scheduled to open on the half hour, but do call if you want to be assured passage. There are nice picnic areas on the Trinity River recreation area on the east side of the river. Mayes Trace on the west side has nice picnic facilities, but we accessed them by car and road. You could physically get there from the river but it looked to be a horrid scramble over huge riprap and I would not attempt it.


There’s a nice little side passage to the west just upstream of the lock.


The mouth was guarded by a good-sized alligator that sank on our approach. We paddled right over top of where it had been to find a fun side channel loaded with currently unused heron nests and a few night herons still about.

It just wouldn’t be the Trinity if there weren’t multiple ‘gator sightings and here is one that paused long enough for me to get a photo of it.


Here is one more reptile that was very patient with my picture-taking. I think this is a banded water snake but Dave was of the opinion it was a water moccasin. What do you think?


We paddled under 10 miles all told, a very pleasant trip. The barrier/lock at this level made the river more like a lake and there was no perceptible current. A great day to be out and on the water.

- Natalie Wiest

Data for our paddle:


Water level

20.7 to 20.5 feet

USGS gauge 08067252 at Wallisville



As recorded in Houston


10-15 mph

From east and turning to south

Distance traveled

9 miles

Round trip includes side trips

The water level gauge is visible from the river along this stretch. Here is what it looks like:


The author, Natalie Wiest