Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) recently announced the opening of the 79th statewide paddling trail. East Texas nature lovers won't have to go far to experience this one because it is set on Patroon Bayou at Toledo Bend Reservoir.

"The Toledo Bend-Patroon Bayou Paddling Trail lets you explore a quieter part of the Toledo Bend Reservoir,” said Shelly Plante, Nature Tourism Manager at TPWD. “By paddling through this side arm of the lake, paddlers will experience great birdwatching and fishing while enjoying views of the surrounding national forest lands. It’s quite an experience!”

Paddlers can access this loop trail at Holly Park Marina, so no shuttle is needed. The trail length ranges from two to eight miles depending on the chosen route and takes up to six hours to complete, depending on factors including the route taken, water level, wind speed and time spent on other activities like fishing. It’s also important to note that paddlers crossing the open water portion of the trail could be exposed to high winds and waves. Therefore, paddlers need to be sure to paddle at their skill level.

The trail offers an open-water paddling experience on Patroon Bay before moving to Patroon Bayou on the opposite side of the bay. Birders will see wood ducks, egrets, herons, bunting and storks in the summertime while a winter trip enables paddlers to view sparrows, pintails and teals, providing great birdwatching opportunities all year long. Paddlers can also expect to see other forest wildlife on the journey into the bayou.

If fishing is the objective, there are ample opportunities to reel in largemouth bass, bluegill and sunfish. White bass, crappie and catfish can also be caught.

The Texas Paddling Trails program helps promote habitat conservation through sustainable economic development while providing additional recreational opportunities to the public. This is the first paddling trail to be designated by the TPWD on Toledo Bend.  There are several others within the Deep East Texas area including ones on or near the Neches River, Caddo Lake, and Big Cypress Bayou.

The Toledo Bend – Patroon Bayou Paddling Trail is a cooperative effort between the TPWD, Sabine County and Holly Park Marina.

To learn more, visit the Texas Paddling Trails website.

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