5 Places to Kayak in Houston

By Kelly Howard, BCO Event Leader

Very few US cities can boast the number of bayous and waterway running through and around the city that Houston Texas can! According to the Bayou Preservation Association, Houston has over 2,500 miles of waterways — WOW is what we say! Our bayous weren't always opaque and brown. When the Allen Brothers were first promoting Houston the waters were much clearer, had more springs and less storm water runoff. We promise you, if you look pass your first impression and jump in your watercraft (you’ll find kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards and everything possible at the “Anything that Floats” regatta) you’ll see a side of Houston that few ever know is possible.

5 Places to Kayak in Houston

Get Started Kayaking

Download our FREE Kayaking Workbook.  Everything you need to get started kayaking in Houston.

Buffalo Bayou begins it’s journey way west of Houston in Katy and winds its way through the suburbs and into the center of Houston. The bayou provides an abundance of wildlife from birds, to bats, coyotes, the occasional deer and even some alligators. It’s a virtual playground for a city paddler seeking some urban jungle adventure time.

Get the full list here!

Brays Bayou winds across the city of Houston, making it’s way through the Medical City, past Hermann Park, and on through University of Houston and MacGregor Park. Once you pass UH and go under the freeway you’ll find the historic neighborhood of Idylewood on your left (river-left as they say). The channel gets larger and larger as you paddle through several bends. Once you pass the Lawndale bridge you’ll have Gus Wortham Park and Golf Course in your view, this is probably the most scenic part of the bayou.

Just south of downtown Houston, still inside city limits, Sims Bayou is filled with lush greenery and wide-open channels. Most of the treasures are hidden at the end of its watershed. The lower reaches of Sims Bayou are unexpectedly wild and make for highly recommended canoeing and kayaking opportunities. This bayou is pleasant and easy to paddle. You can paddle the bayou in 2-4 hours. Careful though, if you keep going you’ll run right into the Houston Ship Channel!

A little further down I-45 is Armand Bayou in the NASA Space Center area. It has been declared a Coastal Preserve by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is one of the last undisturbed bayous in the Houston area. Part of the bayou has banned motorized boat traffic, which makes it wonderful for canoeing and flat-water kayaking. It is easily accessible and paddle-able year round. The abundance of deer and bird watching are sure to please any outdoor enthusiast. The abundance of alligators will get everyone squealing ☺

Cypress Creek Bayou flows from west to east, north of the city. It is a beautiful wooded stream with sandy banks and big white sandbars. It’s a fairly short run, about 5 hours of leisurely paddling time. A few things can make this bayou a little dangerous, one is log jams. They can form at any water level and they should be treated very seriously. Consider carrying your boat around the jam at any current or water level. Always check water levels before you head out in your craft. Pulling or carrying a kayak or canoe through low water and sand or mud is never fun. The gauges for all our waterways can be found at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov

Get Started Kayaking

Download our FREE Kayaking Workbook.  Everything you need to get started kayaking in Houston.

For information on all these waterways and more check out these links:

http://bayoupreservation.org/ — our citizen group formed to protect and restore our waterways

http://www.buffalobayou.org/parks.html — for info and map of our “downtown” bayou

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/ — a great list of paddling trails across the state