Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Paddling Shell Bank Bayou: Two Routes and Some Wandering Options

Because I've made so many updates to this post over the last few years, I decided to do another, shorter, post giving very general info about Shell Bank Bayou and the surrounding swamps. It doesn't go into any details about specific routes, but instead is intended to be just a quick reference for someone who wants  some brief info before exploring the area. Here's that post:

Quick Paddle Guide to Shell Bank Bayou and Maurepas Swamp 

**November 2023 very quick update: as I feared, it sounds like the hyacinth has taken control of most of this area again. A friend joked that we need another storm. It's been a super hot summer, so hopefully some of this growth will recede with the shorter days and sometimes rainier days of our "winter".  Read the "Quick Guide" to be prepared for options.

December 2022 Update:

There has been some drama concerning the Hwy 51 launch - the actual shell bank of Shell Bank Bayou. Some piece of land adjacent to the shell launch was purchased in 2021, and by late 2021 most of the access and parking was fenced off. A mailbox was installed. Outcry ensued. Over a few weeks, the access to the launch was restored, but the parking area was still posted. Now, as of early December 2022, there are only the sawed off (flush with the ground) fence posts and all seems back to normal. At worst, for some time there, folks had to park across the highway after unloading and prepping their kayaks and canoes.  But as of this writing, all is restored. Including....as I feared, the water hyacinth. I'll make new route comments in the body of the post.

Leaving the 11/2021 update  up, just in case there are more developments.

November 2021: 

Within weeks of doing the major update to this post, I learned that the parking area adjacent to this launch has been purchased and is now private property. The good news is the launch spot is still on public property and usable. But now you must park on the shoulder of the road. DO NOT park on the private area. Common sense tip: this may be a lightly traveled old highway, but it's still a highway with very fast moving traffic. If you have to park across from the launch, drop your boat off first, then park. Don't cross the highway with your boat if you can help it. 

October 2021:

This was my first post on this blog, and it was based on a few trips I did between 2013 and 2015. Over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned more and seen enough changes on this bayou that I started making “spot” updates, and then updates to those spot updates. Now, especially after Hurricane Ida in August 2021, it’s time for a more major rewrite.

Back when I started collecting posts to publish here, I had a “route” mentality—I wanted to document the routes I was learning as well as I could so that others could follow them. And “option 1” of this original post(below) remains one of the best, most beautiful, most relaxing, and sometimes more challenging routes or loops around. But, between 2018 and 2020, Shell Bank Bayou—the bayou itself—became impassable and some of us were forced to learn how much “wandering” you could do out here, if you don’t mind making it up as you go. Change your “8 mile loop” mentality to a “walk in the woods” mentality, and you can still have a great day out here.

So, I’m going to leave my original “option 1 and option 2” post mostly intact (with updates), but I’m starting off with a better description of the area in general to help you find places to simply explore and wander, whether you feel like completing some “loop” or just getting a little (only a little) lost for a while.

I have very little doubt that this update will result in a lot of redundancies or broken references. Sorry in advance. I will probably continue to edit it and update pictures for some time.

I’ll start with some Google Map images of the area, and in some of the images I’ve added labels showing some of the familiar names folks often use when describing this area. These familiar names, such as Lily Bayou or Prairie Canal, are just that—names that I’ve heard others use. I doubt you’ll find them on any online map services. I didn’t know these names when I first posted this, so you may see some inconsistencies in my use of them.

The words you’ll get tired of quickly are “invasive” and “hyacinth”. The water hyacinth problem had most of this area completely clogged up and impassable for at least some weeks in 2020. Narrow, shallow Shell Bank Bayou was completely blocked within ¾ of a mile of the launch for most of 2020. And to make it worse, for a while even the wide logging canal that connects Shell Bank Bayou (SBB) to the finger lakes or Lily Bayou was completely clogged up. On one trip in April 2020, we simply gave up trying to find anywhere to go after a couple of miles:

Shell Bank Bayou kayaking

Luckily, water hyacinth floats in clumps, so strong winds will clear one area but clog another. Even though the bayou itself remained completely clogged for a long time, the logging canal did clear up at times.  And then, in August 2021, Hurricane Ida completely cleared the waterways again! As we paddled the area shortly after Hurricane Ida, and enjoyed the beautifully cleared routes, we did see small patches of water hyacinth here and there. So, if you’re reading this post in 2022 or later, keep in mind things could have changed again. Hyacinth is aggressive. 

Also keep in mind that the area that I refer to as the I-55 Canal is always clear (I think), but that’s not typically where we go for the scenery. It has fishing boat traffic and you’re paddling beneath/alongside the interstate, so it’s really just a connector between different points. 

Here’s a shot from Google Maps of the area from the Ruddock Canal to what some folks call the Prairie Canal. The more you zoom in and out on Google Maps, you’ll see different areas along what I call the I-55 Canal that may be worth exploring. Just remember what we learned in 2019 and 2020: Any of these bayous could be completely blocked with water hyacinth one week, and then clear another week.

paddle manchac

So, here are some "wandering" options for you to consider:

In my "Option 1" description below, I refer to a logging or timber canal that you pass shortly after the launch. This is the clear, straight path you’ll see to your left. See the image below:

paddle maurepas swamp
If you follow this canal, before long you’ll come to a short “cul de sac” or “finger lake” on the right that’s worth exploring and taking pictures. Continuing on the canal, you’ll come to a very large bayou or finger lake that’s really pretty. From here, you can go left or right to explore and enjoy. Going right will take you to Lily Bayou, into the woods, and ultimately (if you choose) to the canal that some folks call the prairie canal that leads to Lake Maurepas. When SBB was completely blocked, I was able to make at least one trip to Lake Maurepas following this route. It was an out-and-back trip of about 8 ¾ miles, and was amazing.

Here’s that route as my Garmin recorded it:

paddle lily bayou

This is where you exit the prairie canal onto Lake Maurepas:

kayak lake maurepas

This logging canal does continue across this finger lake for maybe three quarters of a mile and then opens up to another finger lake. I’ve never gone this route, but good sources tell me it’s beautiful and that it connects to yet another narrow pathway that some call “trapper’s run”. I’m told, and satellite images seem to confirm, that you’ll do better in a shorter, more maneuverable kayak or canoe, and probably face some blockages, but that it does actually connect back to the prairie canal. In fact, in Option 1, as you get to the end of the prairie canal, there’s a fork with Lily Bayou to the left and trapper’s run to the right.

All of these options along the logging canal are great trips to just go as far as you want and then come back.

Or, if the logging canal is blocked, you can paddle the “I-55 Canal” north or south to explore some of the bayous along the way. I haven’t done this yet, and I don’t know what you’ll find or how easy it would be to get lost in any mazes in here, so bring a GPS and/or compass.

Okay, so now this post is about two "routes" and some wandering options. And here's the original-but-edited post about two routes, and a description of Shell Bank Bayou itself:


Shell Bank Bayou is a shallow sliver of a bayou that runs about 2 miles from Lake Maurepas to Hwy 51 through the Maurepas Swamp WMA.  This is where I’ll describe 2 basic loop options for you if you’re looking for specific routes to follow. Option 1 is about 8 miles, and Option 2 is about 9 miles.

Both options described here start by going through Shell Bank Bayou to Lake Maurepas. For Option 1, you’ll go left on the lake, and spend most of your time navigating the narrow pathways through the Maurepas Swamp WMA, feeling very immersed in the swamp and woods. This route can be overgrown and confusing, but a true escape.  I strongly recommend a GPS device or a guide for this option.  With option 2, taking a right on the lake, you will spend a little more time on the edge of the lake, and then through Ruddock Canal, then back to I-55. This route is beautiful also, but in much more navigable waters that don’t feel as remote as Option 1. And you will spend the last 3 or so miles paddling in the shadow of the elevated I-55. I would say this is an easier route to paddle, and a much easier route to follow. 

The two critical considerations with Shell Bank Bayou (SBB) and especially with Option 1 are water levels and vegetation growth. Water levels can get low enough to make the 2-mile trip to Lake Maurepas almost impossible. Thick vegetation can make it worse. Water hyacinth is an invasive plant that creates a mesh over the surface of the water. I wasn’t aware of the hyacinth on my first few paddles here—I think it’s a relatively new development (I’m no expert). It can completely block (and suffocate) a waterway, and it will probably be your biggest obstacle out here. But it floats and moves, and seems to "blow up" and then almost vanish from week to week. So, if a route is impassable one day, it may not be the next week.

But even without the hyacinth issue, SBB itself has some very shallow stretches, and it always has some form of vegetation that can turn this shallow water into a green/brown slush. So, the reason I will describe both options by going through SBB as the first leg of each route is that SBB can you your limiting factor. It may not always be passable, so if you are doing a loop and make it your last leg on either option, you may get stuck 1 ½ mile from your start/finish, having to backtrack all the way back around. Go through SBB first, and if it’s not passable, you’ll have several options, depending on your goals. Besides that, I think the exit from Shell Bank Bayou onto the lake is a beautiful spot. You will take pictures. Actually, another good reason:  When you're on the lake, looking for the opening to Shell Bank Bayou it's pretty easy to miss, even with experience. Once alone, and once with other people familiar with the route, I've paddled right past it. Now here’s an area that needs a Hurricane Ida update: as you’ll see in the pictures, Hurricane Ida blew over and/or snapped several of the trees that made this opening feel like a “gateway”.

Some general notes about the area. SBB runs right through the Maurepas Swamp WMA, connecting Lake Maurepas to Hwy 51 and I-55. I-55 has created a canal, of sorts, running from Pass Manchac down to Laplace. There are a few bayous off of this “I-55 canal”, and most split into smaller bayous. If you go exploring in these, you should bring a GPS in case you wander into a maze. My handheld GPS sees most of this as green marsh, but at least it tracks my route, so I can always backtrack if I get lost (I do that). 

Here's a link to the launch spot, but also use it to zoom in and out and learn the area:

Take I-55 to Ruddock exit, then take Hwy 51 south about 2.3 miles. Look for a gravel parking area on west side of road, and you will see the launch spot: The shell bank. Compared to any small spots along Hwy 51 that you may notice, this spot is pretty noticeable. You'll know it when you see it.

kayak shell bank bayou

By the way, another very good description of this area can be found here:

Route Details:

First, here's the Shell Bank Bayou description, then details of Option 1 and Option 2

Shell Bank Bayou starts off pretty wide after you cross the I-55 canal. It curves to the right, and then to the left. Just before the left-hand curve, you’ll see a large opening to the left.
This left is a logging canal that will actually be your return route if you do follow Option 1 counterclockwise. If SBB is too shallow to pass through, you can always come back to this spot and go exploring, as I mention at the beginning of this post.

kayak shell bank bayou
I almost always meet other paddlers out here.

After passing this logging canal, the bayou starts to narrow more and more and you’re in the swamps. Expect to see turtles, alligators, tons of birds, and perhaps some furry critters.  It’s been a few years, but I used to see animal traps (and at least one trapped critter) along SBB. You’ll occasionally see a trapper come along in his flat boat. The bayou is a well-defined path in some places, and in other spots you’re just “in the woods”, and it’s not clear which way to go. When in doubt, stay to your right. As you pass the first mile mark, the vegetation gets thicker and the water gets shallower. Almost always, I encounter 2 or 3 pretty tough spots to slog through—mud and vegetation.  Around the time you hit these thick spots, and until you get to the lake, you may notice the large brown owls flying around. And at almost exactly the 1.5-mile mark is the eagle’s nest on the left side, high up in a tree right alongside your path. This is the part of this post that has needed the most updates. As I mention elsewhere, even before the hyacinth problems, this area could be tough. But on our trip in October 2021, after Hurricane Ida, not only was the hyacinth cleared, but the water also just seemed deeper. We weren’t aware of any other factors, such as wind or tide, that should have caused this. But the trip from the launch to the lake seemed much more navigable in general, other than having to navigate around newly fallen trees.  But that was one isolated trip. I’m not sure if my future updates will keep up with future changes.

kayak shell bank bayou
April is great time for this trip(above picture).

kayak shell bank bayou
Jan 2016, and pretty high water. Note the eagle's nest, upper left(above picture).

kayak shell bank bayou
Same spot as previous picture, but Jan. 2015(above picture).

kayak shell bank bayou
And, here's the same spot again, in July 2016. At this point, I was barely moving, and could see the bayou looked more like a foot path just a few yards ahead. It just got too thick--see next photo--and I turned back.
Here's a picture from October 2021, shortly after Hurricane Ida. Looking at these pictures again, I realize on stark difference: Spanish moss is gone:
paddling shell bank bayou

paddle shell bank bayou
Yep, that's mud.     

Okay, so here are pictures from late 2022, and you'll see that the hyacinth is choking off the narrow bayou again:

paddle shell bank bayou

paddle shell bank bayou
I gotta say, the slog through the hyacinth in December 2022 was hard. Most of the bayou was clear, as opposed to the summer before Hurricane Ida, but there were 2 or 3 spots that were very, very difficult to get through.
kayak shell bank bayou
I often see him/her flying around.

Even when this route is (or was) difficult, eventually the bayou clears a little and you’re paddling more easily through the woods again, and the channel is more clearly defined. Around the 2-mile mark, you’ll start to feel the breeze from the lake, and a curve or two later, Lake Maurepas opens up in front of you.

I don’t know what this stretch will be like in a few months or a year, so here’s my original, pre-hyacinth and pre-Hurricane Ida description:

The trip through Shell Bank Bayou is only about 2 miles, but it feels like more—it’s more work than most two mile paddles, but more than that—you go from bayou, to swamp, to mud, to stream, and then out to the wide open lake.  The opening to Lake Maurepas is one of my favorite places. There’s such a stark change in scenery and wind and temperature. It’s like cresting a hill and taking in the view below. Relax. Take pictures. Enjoy. 

Repeating myself some: immediately after Ida the water level and vegetation where not an issue at all. So that original description doesn’t match our October 2021 trip. We all commented on how much more open it felt, since so many of the larger trees were gone. We saw much more of the sky, and it just felt very different. Still beautiful, just different. For one thing, I could not identify the location where the eagle’s nest always was. I fear that tree is gone. But we most definitely saw bald eagles flying overhead. And, at least in the immediate aftermath of Ida, the Spanish moss was gone. We didn't realize it at the time, but the moss has always been so thick here, that much of the sky was filtered out. In October 2021, as the pictures show, with the trees thinned out and the moss missing, we saw much more sky.

There were a few choke points where we had to navigate around fallen trees, and there were spots that had already been cleared with chainsaws. So again, how will it look next time? Or next year? Will the trees have more leaves and new growth next year? Will more fallen trees be cut and cleared? Did Hurricane Ida change things enough that the bayou will be deeper from now on? I dunno.

paddle shell bank bayou
Here's another post-Hurricane Ida picture, and again...no moss, fewer branches, more sky:
kayak shell bank bayou
Here's one of the spots where we had to squeeze past a fallen tree after Hurricane Ida:
kayak shell bank bayou

paddle shell bank bayou
Where the bayou meets the lake. In the green of spring or the brown of winter, this spot is always worth a few pictures. 
paddle shell bank bayou

Here's the same spot as the two above photos, but after Hurricane Ida:
paddle shell bank bayou
paddle shell bank bayou
Once through SBB and on Lake Maurepas, you turn left/south for Option 1 or right/north for Option 2. In both cases, be aware that the edges of the lake are a dying forest, and it’s very easy to run up on stumps just below the water’s surface. Watch where you’re going, and/or paddle farther out into the lake. Also, watch out for “clotheslines” spanning between trees to hold crab nets(I guess). But it is beautiful along the edge, so keep a sharp eye and explore. Lake Maurepas is a wide, exposed lake, so winds from the west and/or north will have a little momentum and the water could have some movement. On my kayak trips, Lake Maurepas has almost always been calm, but I have seen it roll a little. But even calm, it's still a stark change from the bayou. You may have to pay a little more attention to the kayak. As I said, a steady west or north wind will create waves, so if it's windy, use good judgement before going out there.

Option 1:

Here's the gmap-pedometer route that I traced out, exported and loaded on my handheld GPS before my first solo trip on this trip:
Of course, this route is in the reverse direction from what I actually took and from what I recommend. On my handheld GPS, I have the option to reverse the route.

Before Hurricane Ida, I always suggested that folks do these loops by going through Shell Bank Bayou to the lake first, since you were much more likely to hit blockage here than anywhere else. But to be clear, I have had to fight through some thick patches of water hyacinth on Lily Bayou also, as I describe later. I guess the main difference is the water level. At least prior to Hurricane Ida, SBB always had spots that were shallow enough to slow you down, even on the best of days. And this is all swampy, mucky water. I don’t want to get out of my boat here. Vegetation just made it worse. Going through Lily Bayou feels more marshy and grassy, so the shallow water doesn’t look as nasty. At worst, I’d consider getting out to drag my boat through a tough spot (haven’t had to yet). If you do the routes leaving SBB for the last leg, it's possible you'll get stuck a mile or so from the launch, having to back track all the way back. So...test SBB first, and if you can't get through, you go back the the logging canal and explore. 

Repeating myself: on that one day in October, after Hurricane Ida, you'd never think water levels would be an issue on Shell Bank Bayou. But for the previous 8 or 9 years, they were. So I still suggest making SBB the first leg, going to the lake.

If you do make it through and you get to the lake, turn left. See notes above about the lake.

After about a mile on the lake, you’ll see the large opening to a canal on the left. Take that left and pass the few camps, continuing straight for just over a mile. After entering the canal, you may notice some waterways off to the left. These may—or may not—reconnect with SBB. They may connect in January, but not in July… So for this trip, continue until the straight canal for about a mile. Looking at the image below, you can see a little “fake fork” I have labeled. I don’t remember seeing this fork recently, but if you do, the left hand option should be a quick dead end. Then you’ll come to a real fork that is “Trapper’s Run” to the right, and Lily Bayou to the left. The route I’m describing follows Lily Bayou to the left. 

paddle maurepas swamp

But, you can see from this image that Trappers Run can be clear, and that it has a little connector path back over to Lily Bayou. You may also be able to see that on Lily Bayou, there’s a fork at the edge of The Woods, and either option is good-they connect back to each other.

paddle lily bayou

 This is Lily Bayou: 

paddle manchac swamp
This narrow, shallow channel snakes through what feels like a field alongside a forest, and the experience is different with each season. And the navigability can change from trip to trip. On one trip in early December (a very mild winter), this route had a couple of semi-clogged, but easily passable spots. On the next trip in early January, this path had three major blockages with water hyacinths. Three times, I really had to work very hard to push through—plenty of water, just a very thick mesh of hyacinth.  In one case, a log was blocking the path, creating a nearly impenetrable hyacinth dam. If I had not been willing to scrape my plastic kayak over the log, I would have been forced to turn around or get wet (it was too chilly to get wet). As it was, I probably fought that one spot for 10 minutes to go 6 feet.

kayak shell bank bayou
Really wasn't sure if I'd get through and over this one (it was too chilly to get wet).

kayak shell bank bayou
The water hyacinth makes a really thick mesh that gets deceptively difficult as you make your way through it.

This little channel eventually comes to the edge of the woods, and you should see a left/right fork. Go either way--they reconnect. The channel melts into swampy woods, sometimes with no identifiable route, and you better have a GPS. You’re in the woods, in the middle of nowhere. Stop. Listen. Tune in. Enjoy. As you look at the pictures below, imagine the sounds of birds all around, the "who who" and large wings of the owls, and the smell of earth and water. 
After Hurricane Ida, this route through the woods changed a little due to fallen trees, and we definitely had to carefully pick our way through a couple of fallen trees and water hazards, but nothing too tricky.

paddle manchac swamp
paddle manchac swamp
kayak shell bank bayou

kayak shell bank bayou
Head east, then north east, through the woods, and before too long your path opens up to one of the finger lakes, which feels wide open after coming out of the woods and Lily Bayou. This is a beautiful area, and as I mention above, just paddling from the launch to this area is a nice, shorter paddle.
paddle manchac swamp
kayak shell bank bayou

Continue NE, and in roughly ½ mile or so, look for a smaller fork to the left and take that. This the logging canal you passed at the beginning of the trip.  If you miss this left, you’ll just paddle a few more minutes on this beautiful bayou/finger lake  and have to turn around, or possibly end up below I-55.  After a mile or less on this canal, you come to a t-intersection that is Shell Bank Bayou. Go right, cross the I-55 canal and return to the launch.
kayak shell bank bayou
Actual route from my Garmin Forerunner. Yep, I missed the last left on my first solo trip. The pre-loaded route on my handheld GPS set me straight.

December 2022 - I finally paddled through the route known as Trappers Run. I'll post the image of that route, and some pictures, but I gotta say--it would be very easy to get lost on this route if you have GPS, and better, a GPX for the actual route. So I will not attempt to give step-by-step instructions. At times, there is virtually nothing resembling an actual route. It was friends watching my friends, Maarten, Sarah, and Rachel read the water and dig into their memories (Rachel has done this route before, a while back) to keep us going the right way. So here are some pictures, and the route, of Option 1A, Trappers Run: 

kayak trappers run

paddle trappers run shell bank bayou

This is where you come out of the woods and into the "finger lake" that takes you back to the canal that returns you to Shell Bank Bayou:

In the image below, the yellow route is the standard route we normally do and that I describe above. The red route is Trappers Run, which has a reputation for being very narrow and often clogged. But it was very clear in December 2022:

paddle shell bank bayou

Option 2:

Once at Lake Maurepas, go right. See notes above about the lake and submerged stumps. You’ll paddle about 2 1/2 miles along the edge of the lake and then you’ll come up on Ruddock Canal on the right. Ruddock Canal feels much more like a bayou than the word "canal" would suggest. It’s beautiful and calm, with wildlife on both sides. There are some small bayous intersecting the canal along the way, probably worth exploring if you have time and interest, but I’m not describing them here. There is also a right hand turn about 6 or 7 tenths of a mile down the canal that can bring you out along the last leg of the main route. It’s easy to spot on online maps, and is a nice side trip, but I’ll not describe it in detail here.  
kayak shell bank bayou
kayak shell bank bayou
A very calm day on Lake Maurepas
kayak shell bank bayou
kayak shell bank bayoukayak lake maurepas
kayak shell bank bayou
Ruddock Canal, above and below:
kayak shell bank bayou
kayak shell bank bayou

Ruddock Canal is about a mile long, and then you'll come to I-55 where you'll take a right. Note that on one of my trips here, I ran up hard onto a submerged stump as I took this right turn, so keep an eye out. Then, just follow the raised interstate for just over 3 miles. Your launch spot is not visible from this "I-55 Canal" because Shell Bank Bayou crosses at an angle. But, you'll be able to see the mile markers on I-55 above, and look for mile marker 5.4 AND look for "SB" spray-painted in black on one of the pilings of the interstate. Go left there, and you'll see the old Highway 51 and the shell bank of the bayou where you started.

Final notes:
The paddle through Shell Bank Bayou to the lake, plus most of Option 1, are almost beyond words: It is truly an immersive swamp experience. You really will find yourself (or your group) very alone in the middle of deep woods. In a skinny boat. With no land. So, if the conditions and heat allow, I strongly recommend this trip. Option 2 is not the same experience, but it is a great paddle also. And, as I've said, don't let the relatively manageable distances fool you: the paddle through Shell Bank Bayou can be a lot of work.

When I need to forget it all and hit the reset button, a paddle through Shell Bank Bayou is one of the first cures I think of.


  1. Great trip log. We paddle there daily. Hope to see you on the water soon. http://www.neworleanskayakswamptours.com

    1. Thanks David! I need to get out there again before summer really settles in. I see tours out there pretty much every time. By the way, I have a public FB group for paddlers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nolapaddlesports/
      Check us out.

  2. Chet, This is a wonderful resource. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort. Question: How exactly does one go about monitoring water levels of Maurepas and Shell Bank Bayou? And what is the minimum depth needed to make the bayou kayak accessible? Thank you.

    1. Thanks Birney, I'm glad it's useful! It's really tricky to know when the water will be high enough, but some very rough guidelines: lots of rain (of course), or if we get a day or two of steady southerly winds, and maybe easterly winds, water would be pushed into Maurepas. I have a Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nolapaddlesports/ and people are pretty good about answering if someone posts a question, such as whether anyone's been out there recently. I've kind of learned to visually tell by the level at the put-in, but I don't know how to quantify that for you. As I mention in the post, there are times where it almost seems more like mud than water at the tight spots, and I've slogged through it (the boat and I got pretty muddy). The trick, of course, is not getting too far into the mud and then realizing you're stuck--you won't be able to turn around, so you'd have to go backwards. The one time I did turn back, I got perhaps 20 feet into really thick mud and then just backed up and went exploring. I daydream of some sort of solar powered webcam and water guage. Feel free to join the FB group and ask questions.

  3. met you today as you put in. Thank you for all the great info! Ive spent all afternoon reading your blog. Love it!!

  4. Paddled the red route in reverse on 3/26/2013, with errors and side exploration. In "The Trappers Run," there is a tree marker with orange at a tee intersection. Going straight, I followed beer cans and machine saw cut trees that had fallen, but the path got shallow and I was not certain I was on the right track, so I went back to the tee. From the tee, toward the lake there was a shack in the thick of the woods, quite scary since I wasn't expecting it then I had to go through cane brake tunnels to get to "Lily Bayou". From there I had to go through minor hyacinth blockages before I got to the narrow dug out canal. The fork you describe to go to Trapper's seemed impassible (darn hyacinth). I took the last right before Maurepaus to check on the hyacinth. I got halfway to Shell Bayou before impassibility due to hyacinth (and I tolerate a lot of hyacinth... I'll paddle through while rocking as long as I can move but I couldn't no more). Then I went the lake route to Shell Bayou and came to a H-bomb 10 minutes in. But I pushed on by faith and it miraculously cleared and I got back to the launch. Incredible time. Recommendations: Please bring a cell phone for GPS and emergency calls should you get lost or bit by a snake. Bring a flash light too should you have to turn around late bc of hyacinth.