Paddling Rural Waterways in Texas

The following is a guest article from Emily Barnes, a Florida resident. Emily is a new Hala Gear Ambassador as of January, 2023. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and adventures with us, Emily!


Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a fun activity to enjoy no matter where you are! I am always keeping an eye out for opportunities to get out my SUP and take an exploratory paddle. Just like walking gives a more in-depth feel of an area compared to driving, Stand Up Paddle Boarding provides a fresh unique perspective on bodies of water in comparison to viewing them from the shore. 

At the tail end of March, my husband and I were making our way from Florida to South Padre Island in Texas. We have a good friend Blue who lives in Kopperl Texas and we always aim to visit him when we are near the area. Kopperl is very rural. The stars are very bright, and the people are few but friendly. Blue lives on a ranch and raises cattle and pure-bred Boxers. A visit to see him usually includes several BBQ feasts, hours around the bonfire, and plenty of fishing.  

This visit we enjoyed fishing on the Nolan River during the week. We parked on the side of the road and hiked a rolling trail through trees and grass about a half mile down to the river's edge. From that point, we were able to hike up and down the banks of the river in either direction. The river was beautiful with intermittent cliff walls and banks that toggled between sand rock and grass. The wildflowers were starting to show themselves and a good time was being had by all. There were about six or seven other folks fishing while we were there--most of them fly fishing. Blue said that this stretch gets more attention from local fish hounds on the weekends.We enjoyed interacting with the other fisher folks but also liked that we could hike a ways and find a private spot of our own. The Nolan River level was too low for paddleboarding at the time, but I could certainly see the potential at higher water levels. Some eyebrows would be raised if someone floated by on a paddle board as I don’t think people SUP this stretch of water very often.

On the weekend we went over to the banks of the Brazos River. I brought my Carbon Playa and paddled all throughout the cove where we set up and around the edges beyond the cove. I kept an eye on wind speed and direction, making sure I could make my way back to where I started.  A neat thing about the shores of the Brazos River and this area in general is that there are fossils everywhere! I enjoyed looking at the banks of the river for fossils that I liked the best. Some of them are giant! Fossils upon fossils to be admired. I wore my polarized sunglasses which helps me spot fish from my SUP. I saw several large and small fish--they seem to prefer to hang around areas with shelter such as tree limbs or rocks but I also saw some giant fish just swimming out in the open water.  There were also many birds and turtles who didn’t mind being looked at from afar.  

A Boxer watches the SUP from shore

Getting my SUP to the river, pumped up and ready to paddle was easy and well worth the effort. I get a bit antsy sitting and fishing for hours so being able to explore around on my SUP while the guys fished was super fulfilling and relaxing.  We are considering traveling through this area again in April of 2024 because it will be in the path of totality for a total solar eclipse.  It may be quite rural and off the beaten path, but there are still so many waterways to explore and fun to be had, especially with a Hala Stand Up Paddleboard on hand.

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