The lower 39 miles of the Neches River, from US Highway 96 down to IH-10 at Beaumont, forms the boundaries of Jasper, Hardin, Jefferson, and Orange Counties. The river is largely undeveloped until you get near Beaumont where some industrial and residential development will be seen. The river flows deep and wide as it makes its way toward the Gulf of Mexico at Port Neches, and is navigable almost all the time. Cypress swamps and hardwood forests are all along this section of the river.
This popular paddling section is strewn with sandbars that make excellent riverside campsites. A wide variety of wildlife, including nutrea, raccoons, armadillos, squirrels, rabbits, deer, reptiles of many species and other animals, is everywhere. You might even see an alligator, though reports of attacks on humans are unheard of, primarily due to the fact that the gators are fat and happy from a steady diet of native animals. You will encounter few hazards, none of which are life-threatening. You will need to allow 2-3 days for this section unless you are a hearty paddler who covers a lot of river in a short period of time. Access is acceptible, though not great, with points at 17 and 39 miles.
Jasper, Hardin, Jefferson, and Orange Counties in the Deep East Texas piney woods, northeast of Houston and southeast of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Lufkin 115 miles; Dallas 255 miles; Fort Worth 285 miles; Waco 195 miles; Austin 285 miles; San Antonio 365 miles; Houston 95 miles; Oklahoma City 465 miles (all distances are approximate, and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)
Fair to good, with muddy conditions after recent local rainfall. Flow is always adequate for paddle trips, though the current will be slow. The river is wide and deep, getting wider and deeper as it approaches Port Neches, where the river is actually navigable by ocean-going vessels.
The Neches is a year-round stream, though it will be lower and slower in hot summer months. Winter paddling will require preparations for cold days and colder nights (on the ten or fifteen days of winter we have in Texas.)
The only potential hazards to be found on this section of the Neches River are the occasional log jams created by downed trees along the banks and occasional sandbars. Low water and hot summertime temperatures, as well as an abundance of hungry mosquitos, can be considered hazards. There are no real hazards of significance on this trip.
TPWD boast ramp off the US Highway 96 crossing one mile west of Evadale at 0.0 miles; Public boat ramp located in the Lakeview development at 17.0 miles; IH-10 crossing on the eastern city limit of Beaumont at 39.0 miles (highway right-of-way access is difficult.)
There are many sandbars in and along the river suitable for primitive camping. There are no other commercial or public campgrounds along this section of the Neches River.
There is at least one outfitter offering canoe rentals and shuttle services on this section of the Neches River. Bring your own boats and gear, and make your own shuttle arrangements, if not contracting locally.
The lower section of the Neches River is very popular, especially with Texas coast paddlers from Houston and Beaumont. Trips here are filled with much to see along the way, though commercial and residential development starts to encroach on the river as it nears Beaumont. Because of its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico the water gets a mixture of fresh water and salt water, accounting for a strange mix of fish to tempt anglers. There is always plenty of water to paddle on this stretch, though the flow will be slow and will occasionally take on upriver wind and water currents coming from the Gulf. Most paddlers will require 2 days for this section, and some may prefer a 3 day trip at a more leisurely pace.