Turtle Bayou

Description:  This pretty and basically unspoiled bayou is quite close to Houston.  Its character is a lot like the Big Thicket-style streams of points farther east.  It is wooded with both hardwoods and pines and a lot of sandy bottoms.  There is one put-in and take-out place, so you can paddle upstream a short distance (1 mile?), or downstream several miles (2?) to Lake Anahuac.  A few homes/fishing shacks are along its course but it is basically unpopulated.

Directions: About 30 miles east of Houston on Interstate highway 10, exit at highway 61, "Hankamer".  Go south on highway 61 a very short distance:  just beyond the Exxon station on the right (east) side of the road is the entrance to White Park.  White Park Church of Christ's sign is the most prominent one at this turn.  Turn right  in to the park staying to the right, past the rodeo arena, and to a parking area and boat ramp beyond.  Put your boat in the bayou and you are off.

To your right from the ramp is upstream.  You can paddle beyond the Interstate for perhaps a mile, when you'll have to turn around and come back.  To the left, or downstream of the ramp, the bayou opens up and in about two miles empties into Lake Anahuac.  At lower levels (1.5 on the gage) there is a beautiful white sandbar exposed on your left at the entrance to the lake.  If you continue on to your right along the lake shores (you may have to stand well off the shore to find enough water to paddle in) for another mile or so you will come to a beautiful white sand beach which is "Bun's Beach".  The park, according to the sign in early 2000, is only open June-September but is an OK place to land boats and look for birds, or be fooled by duck and geese decoys if they're still there, in the swamps behind the park.

Wind exposure is very high here on Lake Anahuac.  With prevailing southerlies, this area has the longest reach (i.e., wind has greatest unobstructed distance to travel) so you should be very cautious about paddling when the wind is up.

To check for paddle-able levels, the Navigation District at (409)267-3541 is the place to call.  This gauge is not yet automated.  4' is the "usual" level for the Lake.

Natalie Wiest

Houston Canoe Club paddler

Img20.jpg (36228 bytes) Turtle Bayou where it empties into Lake Anahuac.  At lower water levels there is a nice sand beach under the cypress trees on the left.  Click on this image or the ones below to see them enlarged.
Img21.jpg (43344 bytes) Paddling in style down the bayou.
Img24.jpg (31192 bytes) Bird watching trees full of white ibises.