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Trinity River, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

FM 105 to IH 10
~ 56.5 miles

General Description

Below FM 105 in Liberty County the Trinity River starts taking on a radically different personna. This section was once a part of the Big Thicket National Preserve, but the banks now show signs of civilized development, though much of the river retains its natural state. The river, and adjacent oxbow lakes, provide a safe haven for many species of indigenous and migratory waterfowl. Because water from the river is used to irrigate nearby rice fields there is a nearly steady release from Lake Livingston, about 51 miles above FM 105.

An abundance of wildlife can be found in the swampy marshlands where the Trinity River approaches its mouth at Trinity Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Winding through Liberty and Chambers Counties, fresh water keeps the river flowing year-round, though flows are slower in winter months. Though the area is generally swamp-like, the streambed remains well-defined, with many bayous and sloughs feeding it, especially as it nears the Gulf. Among the diverse animal population that calls this area "home" you will find alligators, beavers, nutrea, javelina, feral hogs, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, possum, snakes, rabbits and many other creatures. A slough near the Liberty-Chambers county line provides access to The Lost River, a great place for an interesting and unique side trip. Gulf tides and strong southeasterly winds can make you question why you came here to paddle, but the natural beauty and diverse animal population will make it worth the extra effort.

Location

Liberty and Chambers Counties in deep southeast Texas near the Gulf Coast is where the described section flows. Adjacent to the river and a few miles away on the east side is the lower part of the Big Thicket National Preserve, with Houston just a few miles to the southwest and Beaumont a few miles to the southeast.

Distance from major cities

Beaumont 53 miles; Houston 60 miles; Dallas 265 miles; Fort Worth 295 miles; Austin 155 miles; San Antonio 259 miles; Oklahoma City 425 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality below Lake Livingston is generally good to very good, flowing clear and cool almost year-round. Except in winter months there is a steady release from Lake Livingston that provides an excellent flow for paddling, but there is generally adequate water to paddle anytime, even in winter.

Best time to go

Weather permitting, any time of the year is a good time to paddle the Trinity River between Lake Livingston and FM 162. Summers will be hot and winters may be cool to cold, so dress accordingly. Local rainfall in the spring and fall months, or at other times when the rainfall is significant near the river, will provide additional flow for paddle trips.

Hazards to navigation

There are no rapids on the Trinity River, and below FM 162 there are almost never any obstructions or other hazards unless you fall into the water with a hungry alligator. In reality, the alligators in the Trinity River are well-fed on the varmints and small animals that populate the area, and they tend to shy away from paddlers. There are no known reports of humans being attacked or injured by alligators on the Trinity River between Lake Livingston and FM 162 of which I am aware. In fact, they are found mostly below FM 162 in the swampy areas nearer the Gulf Coast.

River Access Points

FM 105 crossing, 4 miles northwest of Moss Hill, at 0.0 miles; Private Camp on a high bluff about 3 miles west the Town of Hardin at 16.0 miles; Private camp off FM 2797, 2 miles north of Liberty, at 24.0 miles (boat ramp is available); US Highway 90 / SH 146 crossing in Liberty at 28.5 miles (boat ramp is available); Private camp located south of Liberty, off FM 1409, at 38.5 miles (boat ramp is available); Private camp across the river from Redmond Creek at 41.5 miles; Private camp southwest of Shiloh, off FM 563, at 45.5 miles; IH 10 crossing, 6 miles southeast of Mont Belvieu, at 56.5 miles.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Lake Livingston State Park (936-365-2201) on FM 3126 offers campsites with water and electricity, group trailer campsites, screened shelters, restrooms, hot/cold showers, RV dump station and other amenities. A seasonal campground is located at the Trinity River and US Highway 59. US Forest Service campground is located on FM 3126 adjacent to Lake Livingston. Wolf Creek Park (936-653-4312), a Trinity River Authority park at Lake Livingston, offers abundant campsites, restrooms, showers, general store, marina, recreational activities, hike/bike trails and many other amenities. There are no public or private campgrounds located along the Trinity River between Lake Livingston Dam and FM 162. However, there are numerous white sandbars in and along the banks of the river that make good campsites for overnight trips on the river. Some of the land along the Trinity River corridor is privately owned, and care should be taken to avoid trespassing on posted property. The land adjacent to all public road crossings is state right-of-way and can be used for camping or river access.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

At least one commercial outfitter offers rentals, shuttles and/or river information for this reach of the Trinity River.

Reviewer's comments

The lower part of the Trinity River is a true example of the diversity to be found in Texas, whether exploring the lands or the waterways. Starting as a typical flatwater river, this section becomes a swampy marshland with all the characteristics one would expect to have found centuries ago. The wildlife habitation is rich and diverse, from mammals to aquatic creatures to birds of all sorts. The flow is slow and meandering down a twisting river channel lined with old growth hardwood trees and dense ground cover vegetation. White sandbars in and along the river provide excellent riverside campsites for overnight trips. Distances between access points are longer than usual for many paddlers, but allow a selection of areas and mileages for paddlers looking for a river that is quite different from your typical waterway. Some of those floating logs may not really be logs at all, but rather the "raw" material for making alligator boots and belts, if you know what I mean! Bring a camera and lots of film, because you will see sights here that you will not find on any other Texas river, nor most other places you normally go to paddle.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 56.5 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in FM 162 crossing
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out IH 10 crossing
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: 08066500 (Romayor)
Web: 08067000 (Liberty)
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No


Trinity River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Trinity River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Trinity River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

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

Houston Canoe Club

Alamo City Rivermen - Paddling the fine line between geek and bubba

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

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

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

[ Trinity River Homepage ] [ West Fork ] [ Clear Fork ] [ East Fork ] [ Elm Fork ] [ Sylvan Avenue to Dowdy Ferry Road ]
[ Lake Livingston to FM 162 ] [ Denton Creek ]

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