Paddling in the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
by Natalie Wiest
There are still many area paddling places that I haven’t explored via boat, and HASK (Houston Association of Sea Kayakers) gave me that opportunity on June 17th with trip leader Bill Ohsie.
This did not get off to a great start for me, I got thoroughly lost trying to find the put-in location, which is off CR227 in Brazoria County. My GPS denied that Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge existed; and I had no detailed map in the car that showed the area. Here’s a map that shows in more detail where the launching site is:
(click to enlarge)
Google Maps link, .here
The put-in is an oyster shell parking area with a small concrete ramp accessible only to non-motorized craft and gives direct access to Salt Lake.
Sea kayaks were certainly the only good choice for the day, with sustained winds above 15 mph and some gusts above 20. Six of us paddled across the shallow lake covered by whitecaps and winds coming from the SE, abeam of our path. Apparently there was a kayak fishing contest that day also and we saw several anglers as we paddled.
The boat pictured is one of those pedal-powered ones.
I didn’t get to take many pictures while we were paddling across the lake but suffice it to say it was a challenging paddle and we ventured from this lake across Nick’s Lake and the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to find a wind-protected spot to have our lunch.
Trip leader Bill called for a halt before crossing the ICW in the other direction as a heavily laden double barge headed our way.
Our return to the put-in was a 6 mile roundtrip, so several of us decided to add to our mileage by taking another out and back trip up Salt Bayou. Paddling conditions there were a lot less challenging and it was a lovely little bayou to explore with glasswort plants and camphor daisy on one side of the bayou. Hundreds of dragonflies buzzed above the vegetation, protected from the high winds.
Marsh grasses grew along the north bank.
Where there is good grazing and accessibility, this being Texas, there are also cattle and we had some nice looking ones gazing back at us.
It was a lovely paddle down the channel and back as we knew Tropical Storm Cindy would be knocking at our door the next week.
The following map is my interpretation of our paddle path. No GPS for me, but pretty sure this is accurate for both of the out and back paths.
(click to enlarge)
The author, Natalie Wiest