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By Ashley Donde
Dense, verdant trees, with moss-draped branches hanging lazily over the banks of a winding creek. Great blue herons flying overhead, searching for their next meal, while snowy egrets wade in shallow areas looking for fish to eat. In the distance, you spot what looks like a log floating on top of the water. But curiously, it moves. It continues moving, and as you paddle closer, you realize it’s an alligator, slowly making its way across the creek.
This scene might sound familiar to anyone who lives in League City, because it’s a typical scenario that plays out on Clear Creek at any given time, on any given day. Clear Creek—running along the northern border of League City out to Clear Lake—may seem like a laid-back bayou, but when you slow down enough to really pay attention, you’ll discover how vibrant it is. One of the best ways to get up close and personal with all this gorgeous nature is by kayak.
My family of four has kayaked various portions of Clear Creek using the Clear Creek Paddle Trail, which provides residents and visitors with multiple points of entry through designated kayak launches. It begins at Countryside Park (off of Bay Area Blvd. and FM 518) and ends at Heritage Park (by Butler Longhorn Museum, off of Coryell St.). If you paddle the whole thing, you can expect about 6.5 miles of paddling one way, and 12 miles round trip. There’s no rule about where to start or where to end, just make sure you know where you’re going before you launch.
What I love about the Paddle Trail is that every experience is different, even if you’re paddling down a stretch of the creek you’ve been down before. You never know what the creek will offer you. I’ve spent every kayak trip along the creek searching for an alligator, with no luck. Recently we paddled a section of the creek we hadn’t previously explored (between Heritage Park and Walter Hall Park), and we saw two alligators. This part of the creek also looks and feels a bit different than the areas closer to Countryside Park, where we usually paddle.
If you launch your kayak from Countryside Park, you will paddle down a somewhat narrow portion of the creek, walled in tightly by dense trees, bushes, and grasses. It has a distinct bayou feel, and is incredibly scenic and peaceful. I always imagine banjo music might start playing softly in the distance when I’m paddling this portion.
If you launch from Heritage Park and head west, you’ll paddle through wider sections of the creek. You’ll make your way beneath Highway 3, where you’ll encounter flocks of swallows flitting in and out of nests they’ve built onto the underside of the bridge, and then float past what is quite possibly an alligator nesting area. You’ll have to see for yourself to confirm.
In my opinion, Clear Creek is the crowning jewel of League City. If you haven’t yet explored it by kayak, now is the time.
Where to purchase a kayak: Cabela’s, West Marine, REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Academy, Field and Stream
Where to rent a kayak: Kayak Shack
Learn more about Clear Creek Paddle Trail