Gulf Coast Megan Eimers
If you’re searching for your next outdoor adventure this summer, kayaking along the Gulf Coast should be at the top of your list. With hundreds of miles of waterways, the Gulf Coast provides an endless amount of wildlife watching opportunities, scenic hiking trails, and hidden fishing holes for recreational kayakers to enjoy. The best part is that you don’t need to be skilled at kayaking to paddle along the Gulf Coast. The following destination kayaking adventures can be enjoyed by all skills levels:
Old Fort Bayou Blueway, Mississippi Fishing and birdwatching opportunities are plentiful throughout the Old Fort Bayou. Located in Jackson County, Mississippi, this 13-mile waterway begins just south of Vancleave and meanders through notable nature sites including the Mississippi’s Old Fort Bayou Coastal Preserve and the Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge. The blueway is in the shape of a horseshoe and eventually spits kayakers out at Biloxi Bay in Ocean Springs, a coastal town known for its art scene. If Old Fort Bayou Blueway doesn’t sound enticing enough for you, the Pascagoula River Blueway is the longest free-flowing waterway in the nation and is less than 18 miles east of Ocean Springs.
Bartram Canoe Trail, Alabama Feeling up to an overnight camping trip? The Bartram Canoe Trail is perfectly suited for both single and multi-day adventures and is a great way for paddlers to experience the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, the nation’s second-largest river delta. Kayak along the Bartram Canoe Trail and you will experience 200 miles of estuarine marshes, cypress swamp, and bottomland hardwood ecosystems that are teeming with wildlife. Land-based campsites and water-based floating platforms are spread throughout Bartram Canoe Trail, providing you with plenty of options to camp and explore the region.
Bayou Teche Paddling Trail, Louisiana With Spanish moss-draped cypress trees, majestic oaks, and abundant wildlife, Bayou Teche offers hauntingly beautiful scenery for paddlers. But this 135-mile waterway isn’t just a pretty place to paddle—it’s also steeped in history. The Bayou Teche Paddling Trail meanders through the site of the Chitimacha people, an indigenous tribe that have occupied the area thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. Paddlers will also see beautiful antebellum homes and remnants of historically significant battles fought in the Civil War. If you’re looking for an unforgettable paddling trip along the Cajun Coast, it doesn’t get much better than the Bayou Teche Paddling Trail.
Everglades National Park, Florida Everyone should experience the natural beauty of the Everglades at least once in their lives and there is arguably no better way to do this than by kayak. With a mix of fresh and salt water canoe trails, the Everglades National Park provides paddlers with unrivaled wildlife viewing opportunities. The Everglades National Park’s Flamingo Canoe Trails vary in distance and difficulty, making them suitable for all ages and skill levels. Consider taking a guided eco-tour with the kids to enhance your paddling experience and to see a side of the Everglades you never knew existed.
Port O’Connor Paddling Trail, Texas It’s easy to see the appeal of Port O’Connor. The sleepy coastal town is a mecca for kayakers looking for exceptional fishing and bird watching opportunities. The Port O’Connor Paddling Trail offers paddlers 40 miles of trails to fish, camp, and interact with Coastal Texas wildlife. Consisting of six shorter, interconnected trails, the Port O’Connor Trail will take you along the shores of Espiritu Santo and Matagorda Bays, where you can stop to camp and relax on peaceful beaches (be sure to obtain a permit beforehand). For those who want to get away for a few days, you couldn’t ask for a better kayaking spot.
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