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Cedar Bayou - Matagorda Island in Texas - Weekend Trip Report

by  ken

A self-supported trip created by ken

Trip Overview

Paddlers: Ken Johnson from Corpus Christi, and Marland Shockey and Aaron Metzger from Austin.

Launched from Goose Island State Park, 40 miles NE of Corpus Christi on Texas Highway #35. Launched from the grass just to the left of the base of the Fishing Pier just beyond RV campsites; protected, but had to watch the shallow water from there out to the pier. Launched at 9:15am, arrived at primitive campground on south tip of Matagorda Island at Cedar Bayou right at the Gulf at 2:30pm (15 miles, 5 hour paddle). Had to be careful to find the boat channels through shallow bays filled with sharp crunchy oyster beds that have an affinity for composite hulls. Winds 10-15 mph from the SE, partly sunny/cloudy (mid-80's) with water temperature close to 70.

From Goose Island we paddled south then east to Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, northeast on the east side of Bludworth Island, Ayers Island, and Rattlesnake Island, then south through Mesquite Bay to Cedar Bayou, then southwest through the Bayou from the Bay to the Gulf. Stopped for lunch on the "Oyster-shell beach" at the mouth of the cut on Mesquite Bay.

Stiff 18-22 mph headwind and warm heavy rain from the south through the Bayou. Was funny to see occupants of several fishing boats covered with yellow slickers while we were paddling shirtless in the rain. We were not sure where the campsite was, and paddled 5 miles from mouth of Bayou to the Gulf before finding it on the left on the southern most point of Matagorda Island. No good camp spots other than this one on the sand dunes. Everywhere else it was swamp grass or oyster shell mounds.

Chose protected campsite in the sand dunes overlooking the bay, but with a view and just a 5-minute walk to the gulf beach behind the campsite. Beach as far as eye could see had only a few campers from the three fishing boats camped at the main campsite. Main campsite has a few picnic tables, an improvised shower stall if you bring your own water, and a large welcome sign listing rules and regulations for camping there. Could hear the surf pounding all night. It was a clear and warm (70) night with lots of stars overhead. Too much wind for any mosquitoes. Heard coyote pups barking and playing in the dunes that night.

Woke up just in time to take a picture of the rising sun Saturday morning. Watched a deer try to swim the cut from San Jose Island to Matagorda Island, but he gave up in the deep water and turned back. Lots of families of White Pelicans, white cranes, and Ibis along the beach. Had breakfast, broke camp, and left at 10:00am to paddle back. Much windier, with 15-18 mph winds out of S, SE, and E gusting to 30. Surfed most of the way north from the gulf through the cut to Mesquite Bay with average speed at 5 to 5.5 mph. Ran aground on several unexpected oyster beds. Had to explore to find boat channel back. Southwest paddle back along the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway was against strong wind and waves from the south, but got to surf back to Goose Island from the Waterway. Arrived a little before 3pm (5 hour paddle).

One of the unlisted kayakers was a dog named Roxie (a pet, not a date). She was an 8-yr old Miniature Pincher. It was explained to me by Marland that was a cross between a Daschound and a Greyhound. Never knew this...but it looks right. She rode inside Marland's Romney Explorer cockpit, and was by far the most enthused kayaker/camper in the group!

To see pictures of the trip, check out this website, "Matagorda" page


Goose Island State Park provides great scenic campsites and a place to launch kayaks.


Goose Island State Park camp site fee is from $4 to $9.


From Corpus Christi, take Shoreline Blvd north, following signs to I-37 and US-181 to Portland. Take US-181 N. Go through Portland, and then US-181 N becomes TX-35 E. Go through Rockport, stay on TX-35E and watch for signs on right to "Goose Island State Park". It is about 40 miles from Corpus Christi.


Goose Island State Park website with good links is at

Trip Details

  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean

Trip Location