The Sabine Sandbar Paddling Trail near Carthage opens this week, offering paddlers the opportunity to enjoy tree-lined river views and plenty of wildlife sightings. The 78th official Texas Paddling Trail, as designated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, was nominated by the Panola County Chamber of Commerce and Texas Conservation Alliance because of its gleaming white sandbars and opportunity for great paddling.
The Sabine Sandbar Trail starts at FM 2517 southeast of Carthage on the Sabine River and continues 15 miles downriver to McFadden’s Landing on the west side of the river at County Road 438. The trail has an alternate take-out point another four miles downriver at Yellow Dog Park on the east side of the river on County Road 455.
“This section of the Sabine River is lined with beautiful white sandbars, ideal for resting,” said Michael Banks, Paddling Trail Coordinator for the Texas Conservation Alliance. “The winter sand bass spawn is great for fishing and slipping down the river in a canoe or kayak is a great way to see wildlife.”
The sand bass spawn usually runs from February to mid-March and draws anglers from all over Texas. Catfish are also a popular fishing species that can be caught year-round. The wide variety of wildlife a visitor may see includes bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, kingfishers, and various kinds of ducks. The lucky paddler may also spot a river otter, beaver, or white-tailed deer.
“There are safety measures that should always be observed,” Banks said. “Let someone know where you are going on the Sabine River; wear a personal floatation device (required by law for anyone under 13 years of age); take enough water for your trip; wear sunscreen and insect repellent and take a first aid kit.”
Kiosks mark the trail’s access sites and provide information such as reminders that traveling the 15- to 19-mile trail may take 7-10 hours, so paddlers need to plan and pack carefully for their outing. The water level in the Sabine River fluctuates with local rainfall and runoff from upstream, and temporary high-water levels can occur. Visitors should check river levels and flow before launching their boat.
For more information, visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/inland/sabine_sandbar/.