Paddling Lake Charlotte
Lake Charlotte offers a smorgasbord of paddling. Traditional we
start on the wide, usually slow moving, Trinity River at it’s junction
with I-10, east of Houston. There are boat ramps on the turnarounds
on either side of the river but we have always put in on the west side.
Then we paddle up against the current for about a half mile and take a
little bayou looking stream to the north east which is called Lake Pass.
This stream goes through a swamp with some high ground. It frequently
floods and takes out trees so there are always downed trees as well as
brush growing in the water to give lots of practice on boat control, especially
if in a kayak. We share the river with power boats, air boats, and
in the summer, jet skis. A few boats venture a short ways into Lake
Pass. On every trip only one or no power boats make it up to any
of the Lakes except sometimes a boat comes into the lake from a pass on
the north side of it.
Put-In Under the I-10 Bridge over the Trinity River
Looking across Miller Lake from the Entrance channel. Captain's Miller's grave is near the largest tree behind the paddlers.
night herons, Forrester terns, royal terns, ring-billed gullls, mottled
ducks, great egrets, roseate spoonbills, double crested cormorants, coots,
snow geese, snowy egrets, osprey and even eagles are possible.
Usually we see lots of white ibis both along Lake Pass and on the north
side of Lake Miller, back in the swamp. Sometimes we see hundreds of feeding
egrets and herons or lots of roseate spoonbills if the water is low.
Our last choice is
to paddle back out the little pass to Lake Pass and continue on to Lake
Charlotte, the largest of the lake trilogy. The pass gets narrower
and has lots of trees down. Sometimes we hear and see a pileated
woodpecker working the still standing dead trees that are just at the
mouth of Lake Charlotte. We work our way through the tight pass and suddenly
find ourselves in a much larger lake. This lake often is affected
by the wind and can have high waves. I've never seen it so high
I couldn't paddle it, even in a canoe but once, a friend and I fought
the wind for nearly an hour before making it across to Cedar Hill.
This used to be just a little shell bottomed high place and one of the
few you could count on for a lunch stop or even a nice, cooling swim in
the clear water. Now it is a park , Cedar Hill Park. Directions
to it are below.. I think you can camp there. You can certainly
use it for a paddle and then come back and have a meal there. The
picnic area is just up from the primitive boat ramp.
Captain Miller's marker - this is on about the highest point before the pipeline and only about 100 feet from the pipeline towards the lake. One of the largest Oaks in the area is only about 20 feet to the back and left of the grave. If you can see water to your right, you need to go back down the pipeline to the next white marker and then come in and look for the green metal stakes that outline the marker.
Cypress Gnomes along the northeast side of Miller Lake
We can also paddle
northwest from Cedar Hill and after about 3/4 of a mile of paddling, come
to a large pass heading north. This is Mac Bayou and leads through
higher ground with cypress mixing with other trees, and even some pine
appearing. At the beginning, the banks are sandy. Later, they
are covered in mud in wet times. This pass will take you up to a cut that
leads to a sulfur plant that is no longer in use. If you turn west
here, you will paddle about 1/2 of a mile and meet the Trinity.
In this cut, willows now line the banks and it is much more open. We often
meet boats in both these areas. The Trinity is the widest of all and has
the most boat traffic. In the winter, most of the people are duck
hunters or fishermen. In the summer there are also water skiers
and jet skiers.
Note: This shows the entire area. The high ground almost directly across from the entrance is Cedar Hill Park.
To Cedar Hill Park – the
new put in on the eastern side.
View of bridge for put-in and take-out.
Web site by Marilyn B. Kircus. Last modified on September 21, 2003