Typical shoreline in Armand Bayou. Photo by NW

Armand Bayou

Description: Armand Bayou has been declared a Coastal Preserve by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Natural Resources Conservation Council. It is one of the last undisturbed bayous in the Houston area. In the area that is owned by Bay Area Park and Armand Bayou Nature Center, motorized boat traffic is not allowed, making it a premier site for canoeing and flatwater kayaking. Subsidence has had a major impact on Armand Bayou, as you will see the original streambed is lowered and many trees along the length of the bayou have been drowned. It is easily accessible and paddleable year around. You will see many aquatic, terrestrial, and migratory birds in this area. Black

Black vultures roosting in Bay Area Park. Photo by NW

vultures and ospreys are almost always in and around the Park. Morning and evening paddlers will almost always see deer where grasslands adjoin the bayou.

From Bay Area Park, you can paddle upstream several miles on the Bayou. Stay to the left as you leave Bay Area Boulevard bridge behind you. If you go to the right, you are on Big Island Slough which makes a nice short trip between the park and Red Bluff Road's bridge. Downstream from the park (to your left as you look at the water from the parking lot) you can paddle through Mud Lake to NASA Road 1 where it empties into Clear Lake. Also downstream and from the first major embayment beyond the observation walkways (embayment is to your right, but follow its left shore to pick up the route) is Horsepen Bayou. You can paddle that the whole way to University of Houston, Clear Lake campus. That's a fairly easy one or two hour one way paddle. Alligators exist in this bayou (and all Houston area bayous for that matter). You won't often see them, but I've heard them going into the water and at least one newspaper account tells of a Labrador retriever dog being taken by an alligator as its horrified owners looked on. Keep your dogs (and children, and yourselves!) out of the water.

Baretrunks of victims of subsidence can be seen along the banks of Armand Bayou. Photo by NW

Directions: Armand Bayou is southeast of downtown Houston, in the NASA Space Center area. From the Gulf Freeway (Interstate 45), take the Bay Area Boulevard exit, and head East. In about seven miles, you will pass the University of Houston, Clear Lake entrance signs, and shortly thereafter over the body of water that is Armand Bayou. Just past the bridge, take the second exit to your right that is marked Bay Area Park. Follow the entry road (slowly!) and you will come to a large parking lot with easy access to the water. Park there, put your boat in the water, and away you go.

If you are approaching from Highway 146, go West on Red Bluff Road in Seabrook. Travel about 2-3 miles to the traffic light intersection with Bay Area Boulevard, and go left (West) on it. You will pass the Armand Bayou Nature Center on your left shortly before you come to the Bay Area Park entrance as noted above.

Armand Bayou Nature Center has many nice interpretive programs and is well worth a visit while you are in the area. Bay Area Park has many nice picnic sites, play areas for children, and baseball parks .

An alternative access point for Armand Bayou on its lower reaches at Mud Lake is from Clear Lake Park.  To get to this part, use NASA Road 1, eastbound from the Gulf Freeway (I45).  It is several miles from the freeway to the entrance to Space Center Houston, and NASA's Johnson Space Center.  Two miles beyond SCH and NASA you will come to a traffic signal.  The right turn from the signal goes into Clear Lake Park, well marked on the concrete wall.  However, the park also extends on the left side of the road, so make a left turn in to the park, and follow the access road around past the Bay Area Community Center, to the white church that is now the Bay Area Museum.  Park anywhere beyond the BAM and you will have a carry down to the water.  The Bay Area Rowing Club has a nice facility here with a low, easy access floating dock.  As you face the water, the upstream area is to your right.  This is Mud Lake, and if you continue upstream beyond it you will be into Armand Bayou proper.  No motor craft is allowed in Mud Lake or upstream. 

Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia) in bloom at Armand Bayou. Photo by NW

Trip report and additional photos by Fraser Baker, click here.