Description: Champion Lake is a part of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge to the East of Houston. It has a nice boat ramp, and a dock to access the water. It was opened in 2005.
The lake can be described as a large cypress swamp, bounded on all sides by dry land. It’s a lovely location for an afternoon (or morning or evening) paddle, but not an all day paddle if that is what you are looking for. The lake’s extent is 800 acres.
From I-10, exit FM 565, Old River / Winfree. Go north 3 miles to FM 1409. Turn right on FM 1409 for another 3 miles to CR 417. Turn right on CR 417 for 1.8 mile. Please drive slowly through the residential neighborhood.
The Refuge has produced a very nice set of maps to the
area. Click here
to go to their page and the pdf maps. These
are large files, so if you are on a slow connection,
be advised it may take a while to load.
You should have either a printout of the map cited above, or a recent topo map and compass or GPS to set out from the boat ramp. The park personnel have done a nice job of using reflector markings on the trees to locate the paddling paths – although my observation is that there is not a 1:1 correlation with the map. That is from a trip in March 2005. The good part is you will run into dry land if you get lost off a trail – the bad part is, you should know which edge of the lake you are on it you are going to navigate back to the put-in.
During the nesting season, you are forbidden to get
within 200 yards of an active rookery, and they are fairly extensive on the
northern and western parts of the lake. The
season is generally March through July. This
is also not a good place to paddle early in the morning when certain waterfowl
are in season for hunting!
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a nice Web site for the refuge and Champion Lake, be sure to check it out at: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/trinityriver/