Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coppell-Area Creek and River Paddling Opportunities

Now that the heat of summer is upon us, the chance to enjoy a nearby oasis of cool and shade is enticing. While undeveloped, Coppell has access to some wonderful creek sites ripe for exploration by kayak (or even canoe when the water is seasonally high).

My favorite section of local water is Denton Creek. Access, while not developed, is best gained from Andy Brown Park beneath North Denton Tap at the bridge that crosses the creek. Launching is difficult because of the muddy banks and thick undergrowth, but once you are on the water you will quickly find yourself transformed as the noise of the populated world recedes to reveal the music of the natural world - birds singing, insects buzzing, frogs croaking, leaves rustling in the breeze. Wildlife is often abundant in the form of snakes, hawks, turtles, armadillos, owls, 'possums and others usually out of view in the pace of our usual days. The creek has little current at normal levels, so you can easily explore both upstream and downstream.

Another local paddling opportunity is more accessible but less wild, and in both cases involves an out-and-back route that starts in paddling against the current, though that is rarely a major problem. The starting point is the intersection of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River with East Sandy Lake Road. McInnish Park (a city of Carrollton facility) is the access point, at the well designed launch site on the north side of that complex.

After a much easier launch (concrete ramp) at this site (versus the previously mentioned creek launch), you soon have a choice to make - following the river as it bends to the right (generally north-eastward), or taking the narrower passage offered by Denton Creek as it goes westward. The much wider river passage attracts some light motorboat traffic, is more impacted by nearby traffic noises, and its physical breadth is more impacted by wind than the narrower creek passageway, so if solitude and minimal wind is important, choose the creek.

The creek route is more wild for the first mile or so as it meanders toward the eastern portion of Coppell, ultimately taking the boater into the extended backyard of those suburban subdivisions.

I've not done the section of the river on the south side of Sandy Lake Road (below a flood control dam structure), but I expect that route would be less interesting and wild as the map shows a rather straight (perhaps man-made) route until the river is well south of Belt Line Road.

The challenges not yet mentioned on any of these routes include downed trees that block passage depending upon the water level, high levels of trash (primarily cans, plastic bags and bottles of all types that are swept into the water via storm drainage systems from Coppell and other communities upstream) and the widely varying water level itself.

Users of these waterways can and should have impact on some of the challenges: through greater awareness the city of Coppell could, perhaps, become interested in developing creek access at Andy Brown Park; the downed trees issue could be reduced through local advocacy and involvement of the local drainage authority; and trash could be collected from time to time and greater awareness developed within local cities detailing how that bottle tossed into a storm drain ends up in the river or creek.

Take the time to explore these local waterways - you will be amazed!

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