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HomeNL-2017-05 Lake Creek

Lake Creek Bar-Hopping
March 31, 2017
by Tom Douglas

Lake Creek is a beautiful little stream with excellent water quality, located up between Conroe and The Woodlands. With an eye to developing a paddling trail there, the Lake Creek Greenway Partnership organized a scouting trip down the lower section of the creek on March 31. Allen Livingston, who is the Canoe and Kayak Trail Committee chair for the Partnership, had already positioned a shuttle vehicle at the take-out point (Interstate 45) before meeting up with the rest of the group at the Sendera Ranch Drive crossing at 8:00 AM.

Put-in at Sendera
Ranch Drive 

In addition to Allen, who paddled a tandem canoe together with Erik Meyer, the group included Natalie Wiest in a solo canoe, and Rea Inglis and Tom Douglas in kayaks. At 35 to 38 cfs, which is a little below the median flow for Lake Creek (USGS Station 08067920), the channel was relatively narrow, very winding, and often shallow, especially during the first quarter of the trip. All day, we paddled between banks thickly carpeted by a forest of pines, sycamores, and river birches. We saw a pileated woodpecker, belted kingfishers, egrets, and cormorants, and heard northern cardinals and northern parulas (aka: “zipper birds” – ask Natalie) calling from the forest. With the exception of a few outcroppings of clay, the river banks and river bed were almost entirely sand. Numerous sandy shallows provided an opportunity for the canoeists to stretch their legs, or for the kayakers (Tom, at least) to work on their “knuckle walking” skills to avoid getting out of their boats. As expected, there were a number of blockages caused by downed trees. Fortunately, all of these occurred at places where there was a gently-sloping, sandy bank on at least one side of the creek, so that little bank-climbing was required. 

 
Traces of
Wild Pigs
      Negotiating
a Logjam


Because one of our purposes for the day was to map out features that could be of significance for a paddling trail, I went back over the GPS track in some detail afterwards, finding that it was necessary to make adjustments for diversions around or through 11 different logjams. At noon, we reached a beautiful, shaded sandbar that Allen had described to us as being a great lunch spot (which it was!). After lunch, we headed on down Lake Creek, reaching the confluence with the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, at the previous location of Camp Strake, by a little after 2:00.

 
 
Shaded Lunch-
time Sandbar 
      Slithering Sandy
Shallows
      Lake Creek joins
the West Fork

From there on, the channel was not as winding and logjams were less frequent, although there was still one more pretty good one about a half-mile upstream from Interstate 45. Then, how luxurious it was to see Allen’s vehicle waiting for us at the I-45 bridge! I felt that I had had a good workout by the end of the 10.8-mile paddle (or 12.1 miles, if you count in the various detours).

 

   
Heading down the
West Fork
      One last
log jam
      Take-out at
Interstate 45


This wouldn’t be an outing suitable for a first-time paddler, but the lush scenery and the information that we were able to gather made it very worthwhile for this group of river scouts. Many thanks to Allen Livingston for organizing the trip. If you are up that way, you might also want to visit the W. G. Jones State Forest, which offers some of the finest older-growth pine forest habitat anywhere for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

 

Where we went




The author, Tom Douglas