Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
Well, I thought I'd post a few pic's of our recent weekend trip to Caddo Lake.
I didn't get to take as many pic's as I would have liked to, but I was paddling stern and navigating as the lead canoe.
Navigating the swamp is pretty straight forward as there are marked trails, referred to as 'boat roads'. The trick is making sure you don't miss a turn coming down the river channel and end up taking a "detour".
I plan on doing this trip again in either the fall or spring when it is cooler and we have more time. You can rent canoes in the park, Caddo Lake State Park, for $30/day plus tax. Several groups canoe out on Friday night to Goat Island and spend the day exploring and paddle back on Sunday. The park office has navigation maps of the lake and I would highly recommend getting one. If you have the map, you can really spend some time exploring the different "trails".
Thanks for posting this, Tim! Thats how I remember Caddo as a kid. Most of the pictures I've seen lately show the 'boat roads' paved in that tiny invasive floating plant stuff. Nice to know there is clear water there.
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
Hi Paul, The boat roads were pretty clear but if you got out of them very far you could get into the 'weeds' pretty quickly. There were lots of lilly pads and another that I can recall the name of.
They are having a very vigorous education campaign about the giant salvania and getting people to check their boats both before and after putting in or taking out. There were signs at the boat ramps, the canoe rental place and at the ranger's office. It's really nasty stuff as you know.
If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't. Either way, you're right.
Tim, the latest (last three years) of TPWD magazine pics of Caddo show no water visible at all, only a field of green with a canoe/kayak in it. I forget the name of the stuff but it a very tiny floating leaf thing, maybe 3mm wide. I'm aware of the campaign to keep things like salvia and zebra mussels from hitchhiking. Most park boat ramps have no wash facilities, so I'm not sure what can be done.
Thank you for the information about the boat roads. Our crew was looking at that as a weekend paddle. Our only concern had been looking at it as a big swamp and we could get lost. Appreciate your photos.
This is one of my "home" lakes and I recommend it! Tributaries too!!!
There is generally plenty of open water. Plenty of choked green areas too! Pretty much all the green dies in winter. The boat roads generally are open, though. Giant Salvinia is the nasty stuff, water hyacinth too. Fortunately it doesn't stick to the bottom of canoes too well.
You can definitely get lost. Carters Lake is probably the easiest area to get lost in. The area right by the island you camp on is the worst imo. Never spent the night from getting lost but been close.
If you are worried about getting lost get off the lake before dark. It all looks the same when the light gets low, it seems. There are plenty of boat roads and maps are readily available. Even if you go off a boat road in to the woods you usually aren't too far from a boat road, and can get out.
The lower part of the lake from Uncertain to Louisiana is more open and perhaps harder to get lost in. But pay attention.
I usually put in at Mossy Brake, Johnson's Ranch (Uncertain), or Carter's Lake. The state park is very nice but is one of the worst canoeing spots around, since you are stuck on the main channel of the Big Cypress whichcan get crowded weekends in the summer,for a couple of miles.
If you want more info feel free to contact me! Don't forget the tributaries, the Little, Black, and Big Cypress Bayous. Tons of good canoeing in E. Texas!!!
The little green dots of plants is called duckweed and it grows like a weed and gets so think that no sunlight can penetrate below the water surface. Also, after paddling in any water that has any invasive species, be sure to wash your boat or craft down real well before putting into another water body so you don't cross contaminate that body of water.