BHPC Trip Information

Bayou Pigeon Paddle Trails by Juliette Navratilova

The Bayou Pigeon Paddle Trail Network encompasses vast areas of scenic wetllands. The trails pass through wide sweeping rivers, small twisting bayous, tiny trails through close growing woodlands, and gorgeous secluded lakes. In this area, the aquatic environment prevails, particularly in winter and spring. Any land to be found during high water is the result of man’s activities. The dredging of canals in the last century created mounds and spoil banks, and these provide respite for the tired paddler in addition to local birds and wildlife. In the winter months, in the more remote corners of this swamp, rookeries of Heron and Ibis create the illusion that the Cypress trees have been dusted with snow.

The paddle trails were necessarily planned for downstream paddling, as current can be quite strong here during periods of high water (>10’ ), which is the only time some of the smaller, more secluded areas may be reached. Paddling these trails during high water confers a committment to paddling at least 20 miles, as one travels directly away from the Basin border and boat landings. Located on the southeast side of the Basin, all south-bound paddle trails in this area can be accessed by putting in at Bayou Pigeon Boat Landing and taking out at Belle River Boat Landing. A trip to scenic secluded Murphy Lake requires paddling north (up current) on Cross Bayou or a canal shortcut from the Intracoastal Canal. All other paddle trails utilize Big Bayou Pigeon and Old River. These two main watercourses drain a myriad of braided bayous and canals. They are big, broad and beautiful..

After entering Big Bayou Pigeon at the Intracoastal, the paddler encounters a wide sweeping waterway, lined with young Cypress. When it turns south, after @ 3.4 miles, it becomes much smaller. Paddlers must be sure to take this left fork and not Little Bayou Pigeon, the fork to the right, though it is the larger waterway.

At all times of the year, paddlers can simply stay on Big Bayou Pigeon to Old River and then southeast back to Belle River for a fine trip of 22 miles. At higher water levels (>12’ @ BlR), it is possible to enjoy some smaller waterways through the swamp. At mile 4.5 of Big Bayou Pigeon, paddlers may choose to take Caillouet cut into the top of Lake Runnels, rejoining Big Bayou Pigeon 5-6 miles further down. At Big Bayou Pigeon mile 6-7, paddlers can opt to take either Little Bayou Mallet or Big Bayou Mallet southward; the latter provides access to yet enother trail, the Bayou Postillion Trail. Returning from all these trails requires taking Old River to the Belle River Boat Landing. Paddlers wishing to continue a southward journey may enter the Belle River Trail Network by turning south onto Bayou Long from Old River, just before it meets the Intracoastal.

For maps of the area, go to http://www.bayoutrails.org

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