Skip to main content
  The Houston Canoe Club
Share our Joy of Paddling!

P.O. Box 925516
Houston, Texas

The Houston Canoe Club 

is a Paddle America Club

Link to ACA

Add Me To Your Mailing List
HomeNL-2018-12 San Bernard

San Bernard River
November 17, 2018
by Tom Douglas

Mother Nature smiled on us. First, there was the beautiful setting. Bates Allen Park, where our group met up on November 17, is located just south of the town of Kendleton and adjacent to one of the units of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. Located within the Columbia Bottomlands, this stretch of the San Bernard River is designated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as an “Ecologically Significant River and Stream Segment.” 


Then there was the weather. Although the date for the outing had been set weeks ahead of time, this turned out to be a perfect day – not cold and/or rainy as it had been just before and again afterward.  

Because everyone had arrived on time and ready for the day’s adventure, we launched our boats and headed downstream a little ahead of schedule. Reaching the south end of the park, we paused to pay our respects to what is possibly the largest bald cypress tree in Texas. The river was a good bit higher than it had been when we ventured here back in spring 2017, so that instead of walking up to the big tree, we were able to paddle all the way around it in a couple of feet of water. This, too, was a bit of good fortune for us, because the river had been very near flood stage as recently as November 1, and it was just now settling back into a good level for a group outing. 

by Joe Coker
by Linda Shead
by Richard Cunningham

Continuing on, we encountered an impressive logjam, where we paused briefly before heading back upstream to the park for a leisurely lunch. Most of our group took this opportunity to go a little ways up the park road to visit the Fort Bend County Heritage Unlimited Museum, which specializes in highlighting African American History and accomplishments within Fort Bend County. 

Heritage Museum

After lunch, we paddled upstream along the San Bernard, to Highway 59 and then about a mile and a quarter beyond. Because of the relatively high water level, we could go quite a bit farther than we had been able to do on our previous trip. Here, the river is narrower and more winding, with a number of mini-logjams that can require some adroit boat handling to negotiate. Charles found the path through the first one of these, and Betty found a way to sneak through the second one. At the northern end of our route, Ken worked his way through a spot that presented a little more of a challenge than the whole group was ready to take on. So, we headed back downstream, admiring the many palmettos and large cypress trees that line the banks. We also took advantage of this opportunity to direct a few questions to Betty and Mary, who live nearby and are certified Master Naturalists. Finally, after having fitted so much into one day and paddling 6 miles, we managed to return to the take-out at Bates Allen Park by 3:00.  

Really Big Tree
by Tom Douglas
by Linda Shead
Down Just in Time

  Maneuvering Required
by Linda Shead

by Linda Shead
Large Cypress
by Richard Cunningham
by Linda Shead
Where We Went
by Tom Douglas

The author, Tom Douglas