On the morning of May 29, 2010 entered the river where FM 1013 "Sheffield Ferry" crosses the Neches River at a little pay-to-launch called "Easons landing" I think. The river was flowing slow but we still managed to average 3.2mph with little effort.
This section of the river is on the lower end of B A Steinhagen after it leaves the dam at Town Bluff and is fairly populated with camps and homes at this point, but after the first mile to two miles the river becomes part of "The Big Thicket National Preserve". The National Park Service purchased strips of land on both sides of the river several years ago to establish the preserve, and the land outside the strips of land are mostly private hunting clubs.
There are HUGE sand bars along the way that are suitable for camping but a free permit is required and easily attained at The Big Thicket National Park headquarters.
On our trip we spotted river otters, small alligators, soft shell turtles, and several species of birds. The first evening we were able to make it well past the "Jack Gore Bay Gall Unit" of the "BTNP", which is more than half way into the trip, but because this was our first ever kayak trip we did not know how to manage our time, so we were way ahead of schedule. We camped on a sand bar on the west side of the river due to the evening shade factor, built a fire, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of The Big thicket at night.
The next morning we departed around 7:30 AM on the second leg of our journey, the river starts getting wide at this point, so in some places it gets shallow, but still easily navigable, with some small log jams. The river seems to meander and twist more on this leg of the trip at times it seems the river is just on the other side of the bank. About half way through this leg we started to see house boats so we knew we were close to "Johns Lake", an old ox bow lake with camps and homes (private property), so we knew we were close to our destination. After two more hours of paddling and two hours of cooling off on the sand bars we arrived at our destination of US HWY 96 out side of Evadale, Texas around 1:30-2:00PM.
This trip was the best trip I have ever taken, my only regret was we didn't make it into a 3-4 day trip, the first day we worked to go really far because we did not know what to expect, if you plan to make this trip don't get in a hurry!!!!
Camping on sand bars
Out of Beaumont, Texas take US Hwy 96/69 north to Kirbyville Left on Fm 1005 (AT RED LIGHT) then left on FM 1013
Put in at FM 1013 at the private pay to launch.
Take out at the US HWY 96 public boat launch.
Get camping permit (free) from The Big Thicket National Park headquarters
Phone: (409) 951-6800