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Enjoy summer's end, learn to kayak

By By Doug Cochran
Aug. 12, 2012 at 3:12 a.m.

A view of the Guadalupe River at Riverside Park from the inside of Dale Hildebrandt's kayak. Competitors have up to 100 hours to complete the Texas Water Safari. Hildebrandt said he plans to complete the race in just under 75 hours.

In just a couple of weeks, school bells will be ringing again and another hot South Texas summer will be over. If you are looking to make one last "splash" before the end of summer, an adventure awaits you on the Guadalupe River right here in beautiful Riverside Park.

The Guadalupe River, which is part of the Texas Paddling Trail that flows through the park, is a recreational gem.

You can launch your water excursion at the trail access ramp across from the Rose Garden on McCright Drive and finish your ride at the take-out point located behind the PumpHouse Restaurant. Depending on river levels, float time ranges from one to three hours. Along the way, you can enjoy seeing a variety of birds and wildlife, or even throw out a line and do a little fishing.

The paddling trail is perfect for all levels of paddlers - from beginners to experts.

Lifejackets are recommended for beginners because there are a few areas of swift, shallow water and logs.

For beginners or those with an interest in learning more about paddling, the Parks and Recreation Department is conducting a Kayak Clinic from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 25, at the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool. The clinic costs $10 and is open to the public. Children ages 12 and under must be accompanied by a legal guardian or adult.

Participants will learn safety, paddling strokes and steering techniques. Participants can register in person at the Parks and Recreation Office, 476 McCright Drive.

A hot dog lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m., followed by a trip to the Guadalupe Paddling Trail in Riverside Park from 1:30 to 4 p.m. for open water paddling practice, weather permitting. Participants will be responsible for arranging their own transportation to the park. A limited number of kayaks will be available. Participants are encouraged to bring their own kayaks or canoes.

The Kayak Clinic is sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department, GBRA, Coastal Bend Paddlers and the Canoe Trail of Goliad, Texas.

The Parks and Recreation Department is partnering with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority to make the paddling access/exit near Stayton Street in the Riverside Park easier for canoeists and kayakers. Improvements are being made to secure the handrail, and install a floating dock system that canoeists and kayakers can paddle onto and remove themselves from the river. This will be especially useful when water levels are low.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and we hope to see you at the Kayak Clinic.

Doug Cochran is the director of parks and recreation for the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department. Contact him at 361-485-3200 or dcochran@victoriatx.org.

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