The Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race

The Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race began more than twenty years ago as a fund-raising event for the Trinity Valley Community College and has earned a reputation as “one of the best organized and most challenging races around.” This fast-paced 22-mile race is organized by the Neches River Runners, a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation and education. The race is held annually on the first Saturday in August.
Neches Race StartThe Neches River derives its name from the Caddo Indian word “Nachawi” meaning wood of the bow, a reference to the bois d’arc trees that grow along the river. The Spaniards changed the name of the river to Neches. This flatwater river flows 416 miles through the piney woods of East Texas to Port Neches on the Gulf of Mexico. The Neches race covers 22 grueling miles of the river — and I do mean grueling.
Jonathan at NechesThe Neches race is billed as the toughest little canoe race in Texas. And indeed it is. This is the first marathon canoe race I participated in after my son Jonathan invited me to train with him for the Texas Water Safari, the world’s toughest canoe race. Since then, I have paddled in this race four times. Of all of the marathon canoe races in Texas, this is my favorite. Mile for mile, this little race is filled with a boat-load of challenges, obstacles, and opportunities to get scraped up, beat up, and worn out.
Doyle and Omar at Neches
Neches ObstaclesWhat makes this race so tough? Imagine what it would be like to be the ball in a pin-ball game for several hours and you will have some idea of what this race is like. The 22-mile race course is littered with fallen trees, submerged logs, and enough spiders, snakes, and other pesky little critters to fill a haunted mansion. Contestants have to navigate these and other obstacles along the way. Some places along the course are so narrow and tight that racers have to queue up just to get through.
Neches 2016 Finish
Senior Class Placers at NechesI enjoy being a part of the paddling community in Texas. The Lone Star State offers paddlers some of the best marathon canoe races in the country and some of the most beautiful paddling trails in the world. Whether you paddle to compete or for fun, there are few things better than navigating down our beautiful Texas rivers. Plan to add a paddling excursion to your next Texas adventure. This is one of the best ways to see Texas as many of the early explorers did.
Neches Race Course
To see more photos and video of the 2016 Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race, please visit Facebook/Lone Star Pastors and Facebook/Explore Texas Blog pages and also Instagram #lsp316 and #exploretexasblog.