Description: If you are looking for an easy access location to paddle on the near northeast side of Houston, be sure to check out Sheldon Lake State Park. This 1200 acre lake is a nice place to paddle for an hour or two after work when the sun is lower in the sky and a little cooler on summer evenings. The reservoir is closed to boat traffic from November 1 to March 1 to avoid disturbing waterfowl, but spring and early summer are fine before the various water plants clog open water. The lotus pads and stumps (and Park regulations) limit the speed and number of power boats.
The put-in is at the parking lot off Garrett Road. Usually a number of alligators hang out around this put-in area. Give them a wide berth. From the parking lot you can paddle south through the large lake and around the trees and hummocks or you can paddle under the Garrett bridge and proceed north up Carpenter Bayou. This is a lovely bayou with numerous Cypress trees and lots of wildlife. You will regularly see green herons, egrets, ibis, prothonotary warblers and wood ducks. We have also seen wood storks, ospreys, deer and nutrias. The land along the northern part of the bayou was recently acquired by Texas Parks and Wildlife to add to their park lands. They are involved in a project to replenish hardwood trees along the Bayou to replace Chinese Tallows. The plantings are marked with red and orange markers. You will cross under Lake Houston Parkway and while the stream gets narrower, your effort will be rewarded with a nice palmetto forest.
Directions: Sheldon is easy to access with the completion of the Sam Houston Parkway. To get there: Take the Sam Houston Parkway (Beltway 8) about 8 miles north of its intersection with Interstate 10. Exit on Garrett Rd., continue east (right turn from SHP if you are going north) for 1/8 mile and turn right into the parking lot. It's the first right turn you can make past Fauna Road, which is at the corner of the reservoir. The Park headquarters are located 2 miles east of Beltway 8 on Garrett Rd. Call them at 281/456-9350 for more information. They have always been very canoe friendly.
Information contributed by John Bartos, Houston Canoe Club