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Paddling in Texas? 5 Things You Need to Know

Paddling in Texas can be one of the most enjoyable outdoor experiences, and these tips will make it even better.


In his new book, Paddling Texas (available this November from Falcon Guides), outdoorsman and paddling expert Shane Townsend lays out the best paddling trips in Texas, but also the most important tips you need to keep in mind when floating the state’s waterways.

The book is a must-have guide for either any paddler who is interested in Texas paddling routes, or anyone who wants to learn how to paddle a canoe or kayak. Although many of his tips, including some of the ones below, apply to paddling anywhere, there are some that apply to Texas specifically.

The following are my five favorite tips (paraphrased) from Townsend’s book. If you have more to add, comment below.

View the slideshow to see the five tips for paddling in Texas.

Partner up

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Always try to go with a partner. Not only does it make things easier for launch and pickup, it makes things safer. And whether you bring a partner or not, always let someone know where you’re going and call them when you’re back.


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Look at weather forecasts before going. Even small showers can produce flash floods, lightning, and gusty winds – all of which can screw up your paddling trip. Study maps of where you’re going, and take a GPS to make sure you are where you think you are. And always, always bring plenty water, sunscreen, and mosquito repellant. You will be outside for a long time, often without shade or access to drinking water and in generally, well, outside. Don’t be over-weighted, but be prepared.

Wear protective footwear

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Even though you think you’re going to be in a boat the whole time, you may have to walk at some point, likely on sharp or slippery stuff. You don’t need high-end wading boots or waterproof beasts that are heavy and bulky. Even just an old pair of tennis shoes that you don’t mind getting wet can be a life saver on paddling trips.

Be aware

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Know the laws for paddling navigable waters, especially private land rights. Most of Texas land is privately owned, including the banks of rivers and streams you’ll be paddling on. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself staring down a shotgun barrel, or at least facing some unexpected trespassing charges.

Shut up

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Okay, this one’s self-serving, but it’s still good. I was a contributor to Paddling Texas, and in my introduction, I mention the importance of taking advantage of your time in nature. You may not get out on rivers much, so make the most of it. Get off the phone. Be quiet. Be still. Listen. Take in the beauty with all your senses. Let nature take control for a change, and just enjoy the ride.

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Paddling in Texas? 5 Things You Need to Know