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HomeNL-2017-05 Fort Parker

Fort Parker, Limestone Paddling Trail
April 1, 2017
by Julie Hammond

The Limestone Bluffs Paddling Trail covers about 5.3 miles of quiet water on the Navasota River from the Confederate Reunion Grounds to Fort Parker State Park. The route is characterized by hardwood bottomlands and limestone bluffs, and wildlife such as waterfowl, beavers and white-tailed deer are commonly seen.

As a new returning member of the Houston Canoe Club my paddling skills are rusty. I have not paddled in over 10 years. At a recent HCC Meeting, it was mentioned about the need for trip leaders. I was hesitating for several reasons: 1) My paddling skills are very rusty, and; 2) My lack of knowledge of the Texas rivers.

Recently upon joining a camping group I found that this group has some very experienced paddlers. This group follows ACA rules and Safety and paddled the Limestone Paddling Trail on March 3rd. Sailor Don discovered that although the Park advertises the paddle to start at Confederate Reunion Grounds to Fort Parker State Park, there are several things to take into consideration when paddling this trail.

  1. The boat launch at Confederate Reunion Grounds cost is $2.00.
  2. The boat launch has you carrying your boat down concrete steps and launching off a concrete bulkhead.
  3. The wind for the day- If you paddle this trail as stated you will have to cross the Fort Parker Lake for some distance to get back to the State Park. If it is a windy day with a choppy lake that might be a challenge.
All of these things were going against us on March 3rd. The wind provided the same challenge on Friday March 31st, the wind was up and the lake was very choppy. I would not want to be going against that wind in my boat. The State Park has a boat launch within the State Park on the Navasota River which is very suitable for canoe and kayak launching without having to cross the lake. This paddle trail takes you up the Limestone Paddling trail and provides a very nice paddle.

I was very excited to see how many HCC members had signed up for this paddle. I was very honored to have their presence with 8 boats, 9 paddlers and 11 on the camp out. They didn’t know it, but I was a nervous wreck. Several members arrived on Friday by noon with the rest arriving later that day or Saturday morning. Christy Long came over to my campsite and invited me to paint rocks. That was really fun to hear the story of the painted rocks she was painting and how she leaves them for a surprise for someone to find unexpectedly. Something out of place as you're walking along, and she has some really neat designs. Everyone was there at the scheduled launch on Saturday morning and we were excited to hear that the predicted thunderstorms had been pushed back to Sunday. The launch at the boat ramp went off without a hitch and the chatter of the paddlers let me know that everyone was having a good time. Diane Miller was able to capture a picture of a nice turtle with her new water proof camera. The river in this section is very clean and trash-free, it is a wilderness setting with some limestone bluffs and trees with beautiful twisted roots and magnificent views. We paddled down to the largest limestone bluffs on the trail and then paddled back to the start for a total of 5.4 miles. If one wanted to paddle further you could and you can paddle in either direction from the boat ramp in the State Park if one wanted to go exploring. Saturday evening, we had our usual evening pot-luck dinner and it was awesome. The campfire talk was grand as always. I found out Roger is a photography buff and we were able to take some pictures of the blue bonnets near the pot luck before the sun went down. Roger also went exploring and captured some awesome wildlife photos with his camera. He was showing off to everyone his prize photography shots. They were really nice and I was surprised to see at the pot-luck what he had captured.

Sunday was a day of departure, we knew it would be early for everyone as the storms were rolling in. Many of us were mostly packed up or gone when the rain hit. Some of us did get wet finishing up the last of the packing. There was rough weather coming in and everyone was on their way out of camp.

This trip to me had been very enjoyable each time I have done it. I was really humbled with the members who did come, as some came long distances to paddle this trail. I am hoping we can paddle this trail again in the future.

Julie Hammond's Photo Album   Roger Hathorn's Photo Album

Happy Paddling
Julie Hammond

 


The author, Julie Hammond,
painting rocks