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Pine Island Bayou, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

FM 770 to US Highways 287/96/69
~ 49 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

Pine Island Bayou begins in eastern Liberty County, the flows generally southeast through Hardin and Jefferson Counties and The Big Thicket to the confluence of the Neches River in Beaumont. About 25 miles of Pine Island Bayou flows through the Big Thicket, a natural area of dense vegetation, Cypress swamps, Pine and hardwood forests and an abundance of wildlife, some of which is extremely rare, endangered or nearly extinct. It is a very popular and extremely scenic waterway where nature is in a delicate balance, and great care should be taken to protect it by all who venture there.

Clear water flowing over gravel and white sand is almost always adequate for paddle trips though access is limited and the channel is very narrow. Sand and gravel bars make excellent campsites for overnight trips. Paddlers will encounter low overhanging brush and tree limbs that must be carefully negotiated. Though no natural water hazards exist in Pine Island Bayou, there are things that require attention. At high water levels the channel is hard to distinguish, and the Bayou takes on the characteristics of a big swamp in which a paddler could easily get lost. Summer months are very hot, very humid and teeming with insects of all sorts. The lower bayou forms the northern boundary of Beaumont City Limit, but little commercial or residential development can be seen because of dense vegetation and forests. Nearby towns include Batson, Saratoga, Sour Lake and Bevel Oaks west of Beaumont, and Rose Hill Acres at the US Highways 287/96/69 takeout on the north side of Beaumont in Jefferson County.

Location

Liberty, Hardin and Jefferson Counties in the Deep East Texas piney woods, northeast of Houston and southeast of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Distance from major cities

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.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Good to very good, flowing clean and clear over gravel and white sand. Flow is always adequate for paddle trips, though the current will be slow. The bayou is narrow, and depth will vary according to recent local rainfall amounts.

Best Times to Go

Pine Island Bayou 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.)

Hazards to Navigation

The only potential hazards to be found on Pibe Island Bayou are the occasional log jams created by downed trees along the banks, low overhanfing brush and tree limbs, 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.

River access points

FM 770 put-in at 0.0 miles; SH 326 crossing at 21.5 miles; County road crossing off Calder Lane at 29.0 miles; SH 105 at 36.0 miles; US Highways 287/96/69 crossing at 49.0 miles.

Campgrounds and Accommodations

There are many sandbars in and along the bayou suitable for primitive camping. There are no other commercial or public campgrounds along Pine Island Bayou.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no canoe rentals and no shuttle services available on Pine Island Bayou. Bring your own boats and gear, and make your own shuttle arrangements.

Reviewer's comments

Pine Island Bayou is a study in nature. Flowing 25 miles through The Big Thicket Natural Area, a federally protected area of dense forests, vegetation and an abundance of wildlife, the bayou offers a glimpse into nature that is seldom found on streams where most paddlers go. The water is clean and clear, with white sand and gravel bars all along the banks and in the stream that provide great places to stop for breaks or camp overnight. Access points are infrequent, and trips can require paddling many miles, so paddlers need to be ready for extended length trips, and possibly overnight camping, depending upon put-in and destination points.

Once on the bayou, paddlers will quickly become lost in an area forgotten by time. Many of the creatures that live there are either rare, endangered or nearly extinct, so seeing them can be a treasure of memories to preserve - be sure to take a camera and lots of film (in dry bags, of course). The bayou is a popular place to paddle, so you are not likely to be alone, depending upon whenh you go. The water is flat and there are no major hazards like rapids or waterfalls, but low hanging tree limbs can knock you out of your boat if you are not paying attention to where you are going. Parts of the bayou resemble a Cypress swamp, and at high water the channel can disappear, leaving you to figure out where to go. It is possible to get lost on the bayou, so great care should be taken to observe your surroundings and take note of waypoints. No commercial services are available on Pine Island Bayou, so bring everything you need and have a great time on a waterway that is rare and very interesting.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 49 miles
Minimum Flow 100 cfs
Optimum Flow 200 - 1,000 cfs
Maximum Flow 1,500 cfs
First Put-in FM 770
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out US Highways 287/96/69 crossing
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Sour Lake
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No


Pine Island Bayou map courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Pine Island Bayou map courtesy
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Houston Canoe Club

Dallas Down River Club - Promoting paddlesports,  safety and environmental protection

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Neches River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

[ Neches River Homepage ][ SH21 to SH 7 ] [ SH 7 to US Hwy. 59 ] [ US Hwy. 59 to US Hwy. 69 ]
[ B.A. Steinhagen to US Hwy. 96 ] [ US Hwy. 96 to IH-10 ] [ Village Creek ]

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