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Park Pick: Fall Flotilla

Take a leisurely boat ride with 80 other paddlers at Goliad State Park.

By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

West of Goliad, the San Antonio River runs slow and easy. Well, in most places, that is. "My two granddaughters and I were trying to get around a log jam in our canoe, and we dumped over," says Janie Von Dohlen, who paddled in last June's Summer Flotilla on the river.

Minor mishaps aside, the Von Dohlens can't wait for the Fall Flotilla, slated to shove off this month. Organizers of the sixth annual event expect more than 80 paddlers will make the 6.6-mile trip down the Goliad Paddling Trail. Canoes, kayaks and jon boats will launch west of town at Highway 59, with take-out at Goliad State Park. Trips take from two to four hours.

Accessible year-round, the inland paddling trail – the first to connect to a state park – winds past steep riverbanks lush with vegetation and wildlife. Future plans call for a 58-mile paddling trail on the river with six public access points, complete with parking, toilets and other amenities.

For paddlers wanting to fully experience the outdoors, Goliad State Park offers primitive tent sites near the river. Two shaded campgrounds with utilities and screened shelters are also available. Off the water, paddlers and park visitors will enjoy a 1-mile hiking trail along the river and a short nature trail. The 2-mile, multi-use Angel of Goliad Trail links the park to downtown Goliad.

From Thanksgiving through December, grounds around the park's Mission Espíritu Santo glow with holiday lights. Exhibits at the reconstructed church and nearby Presidio La Bahía recall when Spanish missionaries settled the area in 1749 and established Texas' first cattle ranch. Other nearby historic sites include the Ignacio Zaragoza Birthplace, Mission Rosario, Fannin Battleground, and the Fannin Memorial Monument.

The Fall Flotilla runs 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, November 1. Paddlers must bring own watercraft and safety equipment. Free shuttle service 9 to 11 a.m. Free lunch for pre-registered participants; contact the Goliad Chamber of Commerce, (361) 645-3563. Next year's Summer Flotilla is set for May 16. For more information, visit www.canoetrailgoliad.com.

Later this month, "Spanish Tracks and Trails" will feature weavers, blacksmiths, leatherworkers, and other artisans demonstrating their frontier-style skills at the Mission Espíritu. The event will be held Saturday, November 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Goliad State Park is located just south of Goliad on U.S. 183 and 77A. For more information, call (361) 645-3405 or visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/goliad.

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