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Sabine River, Texas
Report by Marc W. McCord

US Highway 190 to the Gulf of Mexico
~ 100 Miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The lower 100 miles of the Sabine River, flowing through Newton and Orange Counties, has very similar characteristics to the 56 miles above it. Forming the partial boundary between Texas and Louisiana, this is a desolate section with very limited access and only two roads crossing the river in the upper 60 miles between US Highway 190 and SH 12, and none on the final 37 miles between SH 12 and the final take-out at IH 10. Here, the giant Cypress trees are adorned with Spanish moss giving an appearance seldom seen, if at all, on any other Texas river. The Sabine is 150 feet or more across on the upper end, growing to over 300 feet wide and very scenic as it approaches Sabine Lake and the Gulf of Mexico.

There is almost always adequate water for paddle trips with the current running slow and deep. Below IH 10 in Orange County the river is deep enough for ocean-going vessels to pass through it. Though mostly remote and isolated, some development will be encountered as the river approaches the Town of Orange. As with most of the Sabine, wildlife and aquatic life are abundant. Fishing is great and bird watching is out of this world.

Due to the distance between access points trips on the lower Sabine will be long and often slow. Paddlers should allow 8-10 days for the entire trip. Good physical condition and thorough trip planning and preparation are necessary. Many creeks and bayous along the way provide opportunities for side trips that can and will increase the time it takes to get downriver, but which are sure to satisfy with their immensely beautiful natural scenery. Few people paddle this section, but for those that do a treasure of Texas rivers awaits.


Newton and Orange Counties in far Southeast Texas, along the Texas-Louisiana border east of B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir. Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur, Texas and De Ridder, Louisiana are all fairly close.

Distance from major cities

Dallas 270 miles; Fort Worth 300 miles; Waco 220 miles; Austin 300 miles; San Antonio 380 miles; Houston 155 miles; Beaumont 60 miles; Lake Charles 80 miles; Oklahoma City 480 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Excellent as it flows from Toledo Bend Reservoir. The flow rate is slow, but there is always adequate water for paddle trips due to releases from Toledo Bend Dam. The river ranges from 150 to 300 feet or more wide, and the current slows accordingly as the depth increases. If you are dragging on any rocks, then you had better have an air tank!

Best time to go

Just about anytime is a good time to paddle this section of the Sabine River. Summers will be hot and humid, but the river is shaded by overhanging trees. Winters can be cold and desolate. Dress appropriately for the conditions at the time of year you want to paddle here.

Hazards to navigation

There are no significant hazards to boaters or boats on this section of the Sabine River. In the summer months insect repellant containing DEET is highly recommended, and long sleeve cotton shirts and long-leg cotton pants would probably be advisable to deter mosquitos and other insects.

River Access Points

US Highway 190 crossing on a steep bank 2 miles east of Bon Wier at 0.0 miles; County road off FM 1416, 3 miles south of Bon Wier at 5.0 miles; County road off FM 1416, 2 miles east of Belgrade, where the road dead ends at the river and the banks are steep, at 10.0 miles; County road 2 miles east of Live Oak, off FM 1416 at 16.5 miles; County road off FM 1416, 4 miles south of Live Oak at 27.0 miles; County road off SH 87, at the Nichols Creek boat ramp 10 miles north of Deweyville at 48.0 miles; SH 12 crossing 1 mile east of Deweyville at 60.0 miles; IH 10 crossing at Orange at 97.0 miles.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are numerous white sandbars in the streambed that afford adequate campsites at low to normal water levels, but take care when the water is high. There are no private or commercial campgrounds or public parks in the near vicinity. You will need to be completely self-contained.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no liveries and no shuttle services on this section of the Sabine River. Plan to bring your own boats and gear and arrange your own shuttles.

Reviewer's Comments

The last 97 miles of the Sabine River, between US Highway 190 and the Gulf of Mexico, is the exclamation point to the rest of this long and beautiful river. Speaking from the perspective of a whitewater paddler, even without rapids and big drops this place is exciting. Mother Nature, in all her splendor, is evident with every twist and turn in the river. The side creeks and bayous add to the dimension of this section and afford many places to visit and explore in a part of Texas that has seen its share of history being made over the years, from the early indigenous nations to the Spaniards, Italians and French who came to conquer, only to be conquered themselves (DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS!) A fisherman's delight, a bird watcher's paradise and a river runner's dream, the Sabine offers something for everybody who visits. White sandbars provide beautiful and soft places to camp along the river nestled among giant Cypress trees laden with Spanish moss, and many birds including the large Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Pelicans and other species of a smaller size that call this place "home". The remoteness of the area contributes to the serenity one finds when paddling here. Come prepared, because there are no services close by. You can leave the cell phone at home, but bring a camera and plenty of film.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length ~ 100 miles
Minimum Flow 500 cfs
Optimum Flow 1,000 - 5,000 cfs
Maximum Flow 10,000 cfs
First Put-in US Highway 190 crossing
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out IH 10 crossing at Orange
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Bon Weir
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No

Sabine River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Sabine River map courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Dallas Down River Club - Promoting paddlesports, safety and environmental protection

Houston Canoe Club

Austin Paddling Club - Just for the fun of it!

Alamo City Rivermen - Paddling the fine line between geek and bubba

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Sabine River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

[ Sabine River Homepage ] [ US Highway 271 to SH 43 ] [ SH 43 to FM 2517 ] [ Toledo Bend Dam to US Highway 190 ]

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Last updated December 26, 2014

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