Canoeing the Neches River

I must tell you that my heart definitely lies in the pine thickets of East Texas.  As much as I love all the different regions of Texas, it is in East Texas where I am drawn, it’s there where I am recharged.

The Neches River gently flows through East Texas for 416 miles to Port Neches, and offers some terrific paddling opportunities.  Occasional riffles and abudant wildlife make for an interesting and fun trip, although possible log jams exist along the river.

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We put in just East of Apple Springs, under the Hwy 94 bridge.  The Neches River here separates Trinity and Angelina counties.  Click Here to read more about the bridge, which has been in use since 1936.

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Ancient cultures, including those of the Clovis (10,000 BC) and Caddoan (700-1700AD) long depended on the water of the Neches River.  As a child, my dad and I spent many afternoons searching these waterways, where the creeks joined the river, for arrowheads and Clovis stone tools.

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The day we paddled the Neches was my dad’s birthday.  Although he past away three years ago, I couldn’t help but think how much he must enjoy watching his grandchildren playing on the same river where we spent much of my childhood, as did he.  I just regretted that he wasn’t with us, he had so much knowledge of the history of these trees, waterways and animals that inhabit that area that I will never be able to remember.

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It was also a special day for my daughter, who made her first trip in the kayak she got for Christmas!  We paddled almost 12 miles, and although exhausted, she was proud of herself.  I love the feeling of accomplishment and self worth my children acquire from this type of activity!

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We went on this trip with our canoe club.  If you are new or interested in getting into any paddling sport, there are canoe and kayak clubs all over the state!  It’s a great way to “get your feet wet”, make new friends and learn about different destinations!

CAMPING 

We took out at our campsite at the Alabama Creek Wildlife Management Area in the Davy Crockett National Forest.  WMA’s are great places to go camping if, like me, you crave a little more elbow room than what you find at state parks.  The camping is FREE, too.  Texas has 52 WMAs, click HERE for a list of them.   The camping is always primitive, which is my preferred type of camping, although I always miss the restrooms.  We use a potty bucket like the Luggable Loo from Cabellas, and Privy Shelter.  Just remember to always pack out what you pack in!

WILDLIFE

During our river trip, we found some interesting wildlife along the river.

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Our group stopped along the river for lunch, and we watched as this Diamondback Water Snake slid out of the water, and climbed up a tree to sun.   Although this pretty snake is nonvenomous, they can be aggressive IF feeling defensive.  It’s best to treat ALL snakes as if they are venomous, and leave them alone!  My daughter took this picture, but the snake is about 8 feet off the ground in the tree. It’s a good idea to avoid low branches when in the river, because a snake might be resting on them!  Click HERE for more information on this snake and other water snakes.

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My son picked up this little Alligator Snapping Turtles hatchling off the river, thinking that he was dead because of the way he just floated in the water.  The little guy was very much alive, the young turtles, which are cold blooded, will float in the water as they try to bask in the sun and raise their body temperature.  After we snapped a few pictures, we returned him to the water.

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After we took out at camp, my daughter also came across this small pinkie “something” laying in the road.  Unsure if it’s a squirrel, rat or possibly a possum, she laid it back where she found, hoping it’s mother will return for it.  Just goes to show you that you never know what you will find while Having Fun in the Texas Sun!

Things To Do on the Neches

Play

The Davy Crockett Paddling Trail is upriver of the Alabama Creek Wildlife Management Area.  Click HERE for more information.

Each year in June, the City of Lufkin host the Neches River Rendezvous, where hundreds of canoes and kayaks take to the river!  Click HERE for more information!

Eat

The Wagon Wheel Grill in Groveton.  We came off the river muddy, tired and STARVING, and the Wagon Wheel restored us with grilled steaks, deep-fried mashed potato balls (sounds strange but good!) and even deep fried Oreos!  Click HERE to see their facebook page!


Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun! 

Michelle 

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