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On the water it’s easier than ever to experience a closer view of wildlife and scenery. Beat the heat and kayak or canoe easily accessible and scenic waterways in a state park or along a designated Texas Paddling Trail.

AUSTIN – On the water it’s easier than ever to experience a closer view of wildlife and scenery. Beat the heat and kayak or canoe easily accessible and scenic waterways in a state park or along a designated Texas Paddling Trail.

More than 60 designated Texas Paddling Trails provide well-mapped, accessible day trips in a variety of settings and for all levels of paddling experience.

Austin: There are 12 Texas Paddling Trails within an hour of Austin. They include: Lady Bird Lake Paddling Trail, El Camino Real Paddling Trail and Wilbarger Paddling Trail.

Dallas/Ft. Worth: There are 8 Texas Paddling Trails within an hour of DFW. They include: Dallas Trinity Paddling Trail, Joe Pool Lake and Walnut Creek Paddling Trail (Grand Prairie), Lake Arlington Paddling Trail and River Legacy Parks Paddling Trail on the Trinity River (Arlington).

Houston: There are 9 Texas Paddling Trails within an hour of Houston. They include: Buffalo Bayou Paddling Trail, Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail, Galveston Island State Park Paddling Trail and Christmas Bay Paddling Trail.

San Antonio: There are 7 Texas Paddling Trails within an hour of San Antonio. They include: Upper Guadalupe – Nichol’s Landing Paddling Trail (above Canyon Lake) and Saspamco Paddling Trail (near San Antonio)

Rio Grande Valley: There is one Texas Paddling Trail within an hour of RGV: South Bay Paddling Trail

“Texas communities love this program, which has experienced great growth over the last year,” says Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

This past May, Plante says, three new trails were added near Victoria to the Texas Paddling Trails roster.

Many parts of Texas are experiencing drought conditions, so it’s always a good idea to go online to consult specific river flow information in advance and to contact the Texas State Park you’re planning to visit for current lake levels and other water conditions.

Paddling novices looking for helpful tips before heading out, can watch a how-to paddle a canoe video or read a Canoeing and Kayaking 101 brochure.

Paddlers should keep in mind that open bodies of water (lakes, rivers, bays, bayous, ponds, oceans) are vastly different from neighborhood swimming pools and therefore warrant extra precautions. The key differences are that there are no lifeguards; water conditions can change rapidly and underwater currents sometimes exist. The bottom line is all paddlers should wear a life-jacket. In Texas, children under 13 years of age in or on vessels under 26 feet must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket.

For trail maps and photos, where to rent canoes and kayaks, directions to access sites and fishing and wildlife information, visit: www.tpwd.texas.gov/paddlingtrails.