Some of the best kayaking trails across Texas can be found right here in Port Aransas.
Kayak enthusiasts can enjoy two major trails — including the state’s first kayaking trail — providing kayakers with miles of adventures they can’t find anywhere else.
A kayaker can cruise the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail located along State Highway 361 between Port Aransas and Aransas Pass.
Mapped in 1999, the Lighthouse Lake trail was Texas’ very first paddling trail, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which has marked the trail’s four loops with signage to help guide kayakers.
The trails meander through an extensive black mangrove estuary, into sloughs and back lakes near the historic 1857 Lydia Ann Lighthouse on North Harbor Island. Paddlers can glide through mangroves and seagrass flats that provide outstanding bird watching and fishing for red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder in the maze of tidal channels and flats.
The Redfish Loop trail is the longest trail, at 6.8 miles, followed by South Bay Loop at 6.7 miles, Cutters Loop Trail at 5 miles and Electric Lake Loop at 1.25 miles.
Another trail to visit is the Mustang Island Paddling Trail, which twists along the bay side of Mustang Island, from Mustang Island State Park north to Port Aransas. On the trail, you’ll see some of the best wildlife habitat in the Coastal Bend and enjoy excellent saltwater fishing.
The North Trail is 8.5 miles long and stretches from Island Moorings to Wilson’s Cut; Shamrock Loop is 5.24 miles and travels around Wilson’s Cut; and the Ashum Trail, at 6.8 miles, runs from Wilson’s Cut to Mustang Island State Park.
For safety, TPWD recommends all kayakers wear lifejackets and bring plenty of insect repellant, sunscreen and water. And as always, check the tides and watch for severe weather.
For more information about kayak rentals, shuttles, guide services or to download a map of the trails, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/.
Waterproof maps of all the trails, with GPS coordinates, are available for sale at the South Jetty newspaper office, 141 W. Cotter Ave.