Luce Bayou is an arm of Lake Houston. Originating in Liberty County where its hardly more than a trickle, Luce runs on down until it intersects with Lake Houston near where the E. Fork of the San Jacinto
River joins the main body of the lake. The water body is typical of East Texas, stained brown with tannin from the surrounding forest.
Most folk think of Lake Houston being a muddy, murky body of water. While its turbid much of the time, muddy its not. The turbity is due to the fact that its two main feeders, the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto River both have very sandy stream beds and much of the sand gets washed down into the lake during and after hard rains. The water quality on both of those streams is really quite good, especially the East Fork. Luce Bayou, while stained by tannin, usually stays relatively clear after big rains. It presents one of the best flat water paddles around the Houston area, at least within 30 miles of downtown.
To put in at Luce, you do so below the FM 2100 bridge across the bayou. There's no formal boat ramp, but you can drive almost all the way to the water, making launch very easy. There's almost no slope to deal with and launching a canoe or kayak couldn't be much easier. One word of caution, if it looks like it may rain hard, do not leave your vehicle down by the water. If its 2 wheel drive, you'll have a tough time getting out. The road down to the bayou is clay with sand mix and is basically just a rutted trail made by vehicles. It gets very muddy and slick after heavy rains. Park up near the road if you thing it may rain.
The best paddle is upstream. You'll be paddling mostly in a wooded environment. The bayou runs about 12 feet deep for the most part, so its not shallow, but it is well protected from the northerly or southwest/east winds. Luce is also more of a slow river environment than lake. I've not paddled the entire possible length upstream, but have about an hour's worth one way. There are a couple of elbow bends where you have the choice of going straight or turning. Usually, you want to turn, but if you don't, you won't go far before you see your error and can turn back easily. Going upstream, you'll pass a two lane bridge and on your right will be a golf course, though not a lot of it borders the bayou, then a park with a boat ramp. The park belongs to a private subdivision so its not open to the public. After the park, the bayou remains isolated, almost wilderness in appearance.
The paddle is through some very pretty scenery, if you like wooded areas. The area is heavily wooded, but relatively flat. Its an easy paddle and, in the early spring, you'll be blessed with dogwood blooming in the woods...pretty white flowers on understory trees. There's a good population of birds, especially water birds. I haven't seen an alligator on Luce, but would not doubt they are there, so be watchful. Don't bother them, give the gator plenty of room, and you'll have no problem.
Luce Bayou is popular with fishermen, though power boat traffic is very light and, because most are fishermen, they don't power through too often. If you take your rod and reel, Luce can be good for crappie, bass, white bass in the Spring, and catfish. I wouldn't rate it as the best fishery around, though some crappie fishermen may disagree, but it can be productive. If you like to fish from the bank, at the put-in below the 2100 bridge, there's about 300-400 ft of bank area to fish.
This paddle is a good one anytime of the year. Both novice and experienced paddlers can find much to enjoy. Its a good place to spend an hour or a day. Just be aware that in summer, it can get pretty hot out on the water.
There are no accommodations for anything on or very close to Luce Bayou. The nearest store is at least one mile away. Gas is plentiful at stations along 1960 and there are a couple of stations on 2100. Potty in the woods or go before you get to the launch site. There are no picnic facilities except at a private subdivision park upstream about a mile...its private and picnic there at your own risk. There are motels in and around Humble, most being pretty decent. Restaurants abound on FM 1960. Some folk love Cedar Landing at the base of the East side of the 1960 Lake Houston bridge. But, there are plenty of the usual chain and fast food restaurants from where W. Lake Houston Parkway crosses 1960 on into and around Humble and US 59. No recommendations: select and eat at your own risk.
No fees or permits required other than a fishing license with freshwater stamp if you are fishing.
From Houston, take US 59 to FM 1960 (Humble). Turn right onto 1960, continue on 1960 over Lake Houston. At FM 2100, take a left. You'll go about 2-3 miles before you see a bridge crossing what looks like a river or big creek. That's Luce Bayou. Cross the bridge and on you right, you'll see where you can turn to go down below the bridge. None of it is marked and if you come to a street after crossing the bridge, you've gone too far. Drive down the rutted car trail to the lake, launch your craft, park and lock your car...moving it to up by the road if you think it may rain, and go enjoy your paddle.
Texas Parks and Wildlife may have some information; phone toll free (800) 792-1112
A Texas road map could be handy for the directionally impaired.