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Crossroads' rivers an ideal escape (w/ video)

By Melissa Crowe
April 7, 2014 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated April 6, 2014 at 11:07 p.m.

Matt Sandel, 36, right, and Bill McCanse, 57, left, of Houston, load up McCanse's aluminum canoe after a trip down the Guadalupe River at Riverside Park in Victoria in preparation for the Texas Water Safari Race starting June 14.

The good life comes cheap to those who know where to look.

For budget-friendly, springtime fun, the Crossroads' rivers and public parks offer residents a respite from cubicles, fluorescent lighting and the daily grind of 9 to 5.

On a Saturday afternoon, Shanda Kolodziejczyk, 34, of Inez, and dozens of preteens gathered for a birthday party at the Grover's Bend beach in Riverside Park.

Although it was her first time to that beach, she called it "the best spot on the Guadalupe."

"It's fun; it's nice and cool," she said. "Now that I've found it, we'll definitely be back."

For Riverside Park, the tall trees and cool breeze make for a tranquil experience.

"I like nature how it is," she said. "You can hear the birds chirping; it's a family experience."

Her advice for Crossroads parents: Love your kids, enjoy them while they're young, and take them outside.

This guide to five of the Crossroads' riverside gems will get you out in the sun and into nature.

1. Riverside Park, Texas Paddling Trail, 476 McCright Drive, Victoria:

For a relaxing day trip, head out on the 4.2 miles of the gently-flowing Guadalupe River for fishing, kayaking or canoeing. With access points at the north and south ends of the park, paddlers can enjoy a cold beverage or a hot plate at the PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar before heading home.

2. Lake Texana at the Brackenridge Recreation Complex, 891 Brackenridge Parkway, Edna:

Grab a pole and some tackle and head out to Lake Texana for freshwater fishing - bass, catfish and crappie.

Enjoy 125 miles of shoreline on the 10,000-acre lake. There's also camping, picnic sites, hiking trails and outdoor sports activities.

3. Come and Take It and Independence paddling trails, Lake Wood Park, Gonzales:

Two new trails open in Gonzales on July 10.

Come and Take It is geared toward more experienced paddlers looking to enjoy a longer, 11-mile paddle down the Guadalupe River that will take about 4.6 hours to complete, depending on the river levels.

Independence Paddling Trail is a scenic, 2.6-mile loop, ideal for beginners and no shuttle is needed.

4. Sunday Beach, Matagorda Island, state Highway 185:

Although the beach is only accessible by boat from the Gulf or Pass Cavallo, it offers camping, beachcombing, fishing and bird watching.

While there are no fees, permits or restrictions for using the area, there is no electricity, concession or drinking water, so pack accordingly.

5. Coleto Creek Park and Reservoir, 365 Coleto Park Road, Victoria:

Take a walk around the 61 miles of shoreline and two miles of hiking trails for bird-watching, fishing and other activities at the 3,100-acre reservoir. The 190-acre park has 58 multiuse campsites, three camping cabins, group pavilions, playgrounds, sand volleyball courts and swimming, as well as a 200-foot lighted fishing pier.

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