Friday, April 8, 2016

Paddle Tickfaw River to Lake Maurepas to Pass Manchac and Middendorf's (shuttle required)

Here's another "river/Lake Maurepas/Manchac" route, based on a trip a few friends of mine and I did one chilly and cloudy December day in 2013. It was very cloudy-almost misty at the start-and in the 40's, so it felt pretty chilly being so close to the water. This route spends about half of its 13 1/2 miles on the Tickfaw River, and I have to say, I'd be more cautious doing this paddle in warmer weather. The Tickfaw is a very popular recreational river with at least two boat-accessible bars (one is only accessible by boat) along this route. We actually launched right across from one of these bars, and another is about 6 miles down river. In warm weather, a large variety of boats and jet skis are making their way up and down the river, many stopping for drinks. Kayaks are not exactly common sites out here, I said, I probably wouldn't want to spend too much time paddling on the Tickfaw in the middle of a weekend day in boating season. Early mornings would probably be fine. 
But, we had the river to ourselves on this chilly, cloudy day, and it was a very fun trip.  There were 6 or 7 of us, and we had a large flatbed trailer, which made the shuttle very easy. We met on Hwy 51, in a roadside parking area directly across from Middendorf's, loaded all the kayaks onto the trailer, we all got into that and another vehicle and drove to the launch spot on Hwy 22 where it crosses the Tickfaw River. The shuttle route itself is I-55 north from Manchac, to Hwy 22, then west through Springfield. When we finished, back at Middendorf's, one of us drove the owners of the other two vehicles back up to the launch to bring those vehicles back while the others waited. Each leg of this shuttle took about 25 minutes, so that did mean an hour or so of shuttle or waiting at the end, but we all agreed it was worth it.
Then we all loaded up all the kayaks onto the original vehicles, and went and ate catfish and hush puppies, and enjoyed some good beer at Middendorf's, and forgot about the long shuttle. It was a long, invigorating, relaxing, satisfying, friendship-making day.

Here's our meeting spot, which is where we finished the paddle and started the shuttle:,-90.4024653,217m/data=!3m1!1e3

Here's the launch, which is right on the edge of Springfield:,-90.5505474,153m/data=!3m1!1e3

This is a pretty simple route to follow, but here are the details, and some photos:

Our launch is just past Springfield, LA, right before you cross the bridge over the Tickfaw River, if you're heading west on Hwy 22. As we launch, we almost immediately pass one of the more popular bars along the Tickfaw: Tin Lizzy's Landing.

tickfaw river kayak launch
That's Tin Lizzy's Landing in the center of the picture

tickfaw river kayak

From the launch, we paddled downriver (left) and followed the river as it snakes its way to Lake Maurepas. Somewhere around the 6 mile mark, we passed the Natalbany River on the left, and then came up to the Prop Stop on the right. The Prop Stop was closed, so we used its dock for a lunch break.

tickfaw river kayak
Getting ready to take a break at the Prop Stop (Nick Napoda took this shot of Jan, Maarten and me)
tickfaw river kayak
Maarten's photo of our lunch break

tickfaw river kayak

tickfaw river kayak

Here are some nice shots Maarten took:

tickfaw river kayak
tickfaw river kayak
That's Sarah in the picture

Shortly after the Prop Stop, Lake Maurepas opens up in front of you:

kayak lake maurepas

kayak lake maurepas

As I always warn when I talk about paddling on Lake Maurepas: The lake blends right into a dying cypress forest, and if you paddle too close to the edge, you may scrape across a submerged tree stump. It's really beautiful, and it's worth pulling in close to get pictures, but watch where you're going. Let me emphasize that point: I've paddled along the northern and eastern edge of Lake Maurepas often, and it really is beautiful. Bring your camera--just be prepared to take pictures in a rocking kayak. And, watch your path. On this route, we followed the "shore" on our left for a few minutes, and then moved farther out into the lake as we cut southeast across the northeastern corner of the lake. The I-55 bridge over Pass Manchac is an easy target to shoot for.

Then we reached the western tip of "Jones Island" (the area between the two lakes and the north and south passes), and followed the shore back to a rocky bank, where we got out in very shallow water and helped each other carry our kayaks back up to the edge of the road.
Then, the shuttle and catfish, as I described above. The end of this trip is actually at the beginning of this post!

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