Looking for a lazy river for a relaxing paddle trip, that you don’t have to share with tubers? I recently paddled the Navasota River near Mexia with the Dallas Downriver paddle club. Despite the heat the weather was comfortable, the water cool, and the winds light.
There were about a dozen of us on the trip. Our base camp was at Fort Parker State Park, just of off Route 14, about five miles south of Mexia.
The river twists it’s way for about four miles before entering into Fort Parker Lake. The river current is light. On this particular day there was little bird life along the water. We played tag with a Great Blue Heron for most of the trip. We would paddle up to him and he would fly a few hundred yards down the river. We’d catch up and he would fly again. This went on repeatedly for several miles.
There is only one take-out along the river, a boat ramp and parking lot with some hiking trails, part of the state park. It’s a good place to stop for a rest and picnic, but on a short paddle like this we went past without stopping.
The last mile or so of the trip is across open water in the lake, heading for the state park. This is a little more than a mile, and we had light winds, so it was not very difficult. As any experienced paddler can testify, lake paddling is fully dependent on the wind. Our easy paddle could easily turn into a hard workout if the winds and waves kicked up.
The only downside of the trip is the put-in point at the Confederate Reunion Park ($2 admission). You have to lug your kayak or canoe down a steep flight of concrete stairs to get to the river. It wasn’t bad as we all helped each other with our boats. But doing it solo would be challenging. There is a canoe slide that can be used to lower your boat, but we managed without it.
Fort Parker is a small state park, only 25 campsites and ten rustic cottages. Most, but not all, the campsites have tree cover to provide protection from the sun and the heat. The lone restroom has hot showers.
The Dallas Downriver crowd was a fun group to paddle with. There was a good mix of men and women. Most paddlers had kayaks, but there were a couple canoes. Dinnertime was a community feast. Everybody brought something to share. Several campers had Dutch ovens to prepare non-traditional camp foods.
The group gets together every month or so for paddling adventures somewhere in Texas. There are even occasional trips out of state, primarily to Arkansas. You can find a schedule of events on their website.
I would rate this paddle trip about average. The scenery was nice, the paddling easy, nothing technical. It’s a short paddle, taking a half-day. The only problem is the put-in, as described above. It’s about two and-a-half hours south of Plano on 75/I45. Close enough that you don’t have to make it an overnight trip if you don’t want to.