Well known for its picturesque scenery and numerous hiking and cycling trails, Houston is also a wonderful place to paddle, being home to numerous waterways both in the inner city and local area. Many visitors to the city are actually quite surprised to realize just how many awesome kayaking opportunities are hidden away among Houston's high-rise buildings and beautiful parks, but the Texan city is actually a perfect place to take to the water, with a myriad of lakes and bayous just waiting to be explored.

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Kayaking in Houston is quite simply a must-do activity for visitor or resident with even a passing interest in paddling. While the city can be enjoyed on foot, with a whole host of museums and attractions to enjoy, it’s a truly unique pleasure to climb aboard a kayak and paddle away to see Houston from a brand new angle. The city of Houston boasts four different bayous in total, each teeming with wildlife and bordered with rich vegetation, providing a peaceful backdrop to your kayaking trails.

People who are lucky enough to possess kayaks of their own can simply drive up to any of the paddling trails or lakes and set off onto the water, but if you need a little helping hand in terms of equipment and guidance, plenty of kayak companies are set up throughout Houston. These operators provide watercraft, life vests, instructions, tours, and more to help everyone, from beginners to experts, enjoy their Houston kayaking adventures without any hassle.

The Best Kayaking Spots in and around Houston

So which spots should you start off with if you're looking to get started with some Houston kayaking?

1. Buffalo Bayou Paddling

Well, the Buffalo Bayou paddling trail is perhaps the most popular route. It stretches for 26 long miles, crossing through a nice mixture of urban and natural environments and providing something for everyone. Whether you're looking to take in the city skyline and witness the majesty of some of Houston's most famous structures or enjoy the greener side of the city, this is a great route to check out, starting at Highway 6 and finishing up in the center of the city. Companies like Bayou City Adventures run tours and kayak rentals along this route, and the bayou is home to the annual Buffalo Bayou Regatta, one of the key events on the Houston calendar.

2. The Cypress Creek Watershed

This is another excellent kayaking spot in the Houston area. With 18 picturesque miles of water to explore, this is a favored spot with wildlife enthusiasts and animal lovers, with paddlers frequently spotting eagles, falcons, and even alligators along their travels.

3. Armand Bayou

Similar examples of wildlife can be enjoyed at the Armand Bayou, another beautiful backdrop for kayaking fun. Operators like Let's Go Sailing and SouthWest Paddlesports are a couple of key contenders to consider in these areas, but there are many great kayaking companies all around Houston, so it's important to do your research beforehand.

4. Stephen F. Austin paddling trail

Free spirits might prefer to rent their own kayak and take on the Stephen F. Austin paddling trail. With four different waterways to explore, each offering its own unique set of sights and sensory experiences, this trail offers more than 30 miles of water and a whole lot of options. With various difficulty levels along the way and so much wildlife to see, this trail is a big hit with folks who simply want to grab a kayak and take to the water with total liberty to explore the surroundings and enjoy the trip however they want. This style of kayaking in Houston is especially popular with families, able to take their time and travel at their own pace, as well as couples who want to enjoy a romantic moment of tranquility out on the water.

5. Clear Lake

Another great Houston area for kayaking is Clear Lake. With all sorts of water activities available, including sailboats and catamarans, this is a super spot for kayaking too. It's pretty cheap to rent kayaks or canoes in this area and there's a lot of lovely scenery to enjoy in every direction. Clear Lake is actually one of the most popular spots in all of Texas for boating and fishing activities, so it's a fun place to come and spend time with groups of friends or family. Dozens of boats and smiling faces all around really help everyone feel part of one big community and you might even make some new friends along the way.