A man and a woman paddling a red boat on calm waters carrying fishing gear

Marked canoe trails wind through the marshes and backwater areas of the refuge. Canoe areas provide quiet, peaceful areas to paddle a canoe or kayak. 

Here are some tips for planning a safe and enjoyable adventure:

  • Make a plan and share it with someone: Tell someone where you will put your boat in, take your boat out, and your estimated return time. 
  • Know your route. It's easy to get lost in the maze of backwaters, particularly in tall vegetation. Take a map or GPS unit along. Be alert for swift moving boats near the main channel. 
  • Know your abilities. Consider how long of a trip you'd like to take based on where you can take your boat out and whether you're paddling a loop (and will need to eventually paddle against the current) or a single stretch. In slower moving water, there's less current to help move your boat along. In faster-moving water, it requires more strength to steer. 
  • Be prepared. Make sure you have plenty of drinking water, snacks, sun protection, and layers of clothing. Have a plan for how you will contact someone if you need help on the water. 
  • Check water levels before you go. Backwaters can be dangerous during high water periods or difficult to navigate when the water is low. Strong currents occur around log jams, snags, and low hanging branches. 
  • Check and monitor the weather. Watch for fog. Strong winds can also be dangerous, especially in large, open waters. Have a plan for how to get off the water if the weather becomes unsafe.
  • Be aware of hunting seasons. Hunting is popular on the refuge; if paddling in the fall, make yourself visible and wear bright colored clothes. 
  • Wear a life vest at ALL times.