Kayaking in and Around Dallas: The 9 Best Places to Paddle and Canoe

By James @ Sea Kayak Explorer

Anyone looking to explore the diverse landscapes of Texas will find valleys and canyons with alternative plateaus and plains. With such variety, an individual could go from the mountains to desert grasslands as they choose. Texas is home to over 7,000 lakes, 15 major rivers, and approximately 3,700 streams and waterways, making up over 191,000 miles. 

There is an abundance of terrific destinations for kayakers to venture out and enjoy some time on the water near and around Dallas. Sitting in the North Central area of the state, there are numerous manufactured lakes and waterways for kayak enthusiasts. Having plenty of water sources to explore, it can be hard to choose. We have for you a list of the 9 best places to kayak in Dallas. 

For more places to kayak nearby check out our post with the best kayaking destinations in Texas here.

1. White Rock Lake, TX

White Rock Lake is the ideal location for kayakers who want a quiet time out on the water. The calm waters of this small lake are for non-motorized watercraft only, making it the perfect destination for beginner paddlers. 

Spend the day at White Rock Lake enjoying the water and having a picnic at one of the many public sites. It is conveniently located only five miles northeast of Dallas, which you can reach by taking the Dart Blue Line transit if you are not driving and taking your kayak. White Rock Paddle Co. has rentals for anyone without their own equipment. 

If you bring your kayak, there are numerous locations around White Rock Lake to launch off for an afternoon of relaxation on the water. 

2. Village Creek in Arlington, TX 

Not to confuse it with the Village Creek in the Big Thicket National Preserve, the Village Creek flows directly into Lake Arlington, making it a terrific getaway for Dallas paddlers looking for a spot off the beaten path. Water from Cedar Creek Lake diverts into Village Creek during low water times of the year, so it becomes more functional for paddling. Thick vegetation on either side shades the serene waters for your paddle.

If you need a short, enjoyable paddle, you can launch at Everman Kennedale Road and travel just over three miles to the Lake Arlington waters. There is a small S-turn rapid during the float, so it is always best to scout out the waterways before approaching. There is no kayak rental onsite, so this small waterway is for individuals with their own equipment.

3. Trinity River, TX

Perfect for intermediate or experienced paddlers, the Trinity River is an exceptional waterway for various terrains while remaining in the Dallas area. This waterway sits on the west side of downtown in Fort Worth and connects this booming metropolis to its neighbor, the Great Trinity River Forest, only a few miles away. 

Kayakers can enjoy the sights of the Dallas skyline as they work their way through the city for approximately four miles. Once they reach the Loop 12 Bridge, paddlers enter the breathtaking Great Trinity River Forest channels. Here, the natural scenery is abundant, showcasing the local wildlife. 

The waters of the Trinity River can be demanding, making it a location that beginners should not attempt. If you do not own a kayak, Trinity River Kayak Co. has rentals available, and there are several launch sites throughout the industrial and natural sections. 

4. Rowlett Creek, TX

Rowlett Creek, TX by Robert Nunnally (CC BY 2.0)

A diverse waterway where you can paddle upstream or downstream, depending on your preference and skill level, Rowlett Creek offers a variety for kayakers. It feeds into Lake Ray Hubbard and is a favorite for many water enthusiasts who like the versatility of lake and river paddling. 

It is conveniently located behind the Firewheel Mall, making the access easy to reach at the Miller Road crossing. When the water levels are sufficient, there are several spots with level 2 or 3 rapids to add a little fun and excitement to your kayaking afternoon. This waterway can be a relaxing way to enjoy nature within the Dallas cityscape.   

5. Lake Ray Hubbard, TX

Lake Ray Hubbard, TX by Nelo Hotsuma (CC BY 2.0)

Known for many recreational water activities, Lake Ray Hubbard is a terrific place to explore the clear blue waters just east of Dallas. This lake is a favorite for many for fishing and kayaking, but additionally, the Harbour at Rockwall – where there’s a beautiful lighthouse – offers several boutiques, restaurants, and live music to enjoy throughout the year.  

The lake is large enough to not seem overcrowded when it is busy and is easy to get to from Dallas by vehicle or taking local bus transit lines. For individuals who need to rent kayak equipment, Kayak Instruction Inc. has everything to enjoy all that Lake Ray Hubbard has to offer. 

6. Joe Pool Lake in Cedar Hill State Park, TX

Joe Pool Lake, TX by David Baxter (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Just a short 10 miles southwest of Dallas sits Cedar Hill State Park. This park shares Joe Pool Lake with Lloyd Park, each side offering a different experience for paddlers. Cedar Hill State Park has an abundance of fishing boats, so kayakers need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. 

Several water fixtures are available to rinse your kayak and feet when you return to the soft clay banks. You can obtain rental kayaks and equipment from Live Adventure Kayak Rentals and spend time enjoying the vast waters. If you are feeling adventurous, take some extra time and paddle south to Pleasant Valley Park at the south tip of Joe Pool Lake.   

The west side of Joe Pool Lake is situated in Lloyd Park and has approximately five miles of waterways and white sandy beaches to explore. Kayakers can observe an abundance of local wildlife in the area as they experience a touch of nature just outside of Dallas. 

Joe Pool Lake is ideal for individuals with some paddling experience, while beginners can test more shallow waters downstream at Walnut Creek. This section is family-friendly and perfectly suited for anyone trying out kayaking for the first time. 

Lynn Creek Park is on the northwest shore where paddlers can enjoy the beach or stop for a bite to eat at one of the picnic sites. If you do not have a kayak to bring with you, Lloyd Park has rental equipment to use while visiting this serene location. Rentals make it perfect for anyone taking bus lines from Dallas to take advantage of an afternoon of kayaking without transporting equipment. 

7. Grapevine Lake, TX

Grapevine Lake, TX by Shiva Shenoy (CC BY 2.0)

Just a short distance away from Dallas in Meadowmere Park sits Grapevine Lake. If you are an early riser, this waterway is for you. As the day goes on and the wind increases, the waters become populated with sailboats, making traffic more hectic for kayakers. The rocky shores and abundance of trees make paddling a scenic experience. 

When you launch from the north side at the Merrel Park entrance, there is no cost, but there will be a charge if you enter the park and launch from inside. Grapevine Lake has a deep history, including vineyards and fossils. Kayakers looking for rentals can find them at Lonestar Adventure Sports

8. Lewisville Lake and Lewisville Lake Dam, TX  

Lewisville Lake, TX by Jason Hunter (CC BY 2.0)

The Lewisville Lake Dam is only open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but Lewisville Lake is available any other day for kayak enthusiasts. There is a small fee to launch at the dam, but many kayakers enjoy watching the water come out of the dam. It can travel quite quickly, but it does slow down as you paddle further down. 

Lewisville Lake has numerous launches throughout, and an abundance of parks line the many shores. This body of water is no average paddle, as it branches out and gives kayakers a variety of scenery. DFW Surf offers rentals for those in the Hidden Cove Park area on the east side of the lake.  

9. Lake Arlington, TX

Only a short 20 minutes away from Dallas, Lake Arlington is a favorite for many kayak enthusiasts. With open flat water, it is part of the Texas Paddling Trails. This location has 11 miles of water trails surrounded by lush green vegetation and three launch sites, making it a terrific destination for paddlers of any experience.

If you bring your own kayak, you will need a permit, but any rentals from the onsite Flatwater Kayak do not require you to obtain one beforehand. The DART Tre Route travels from the downtown Victory Station to Arlington’s Centerport Station for anyone not using their vehicle to Lake Arlington.  

Summing up the Best Places to Kayak Near Dallas and Fort Worth

While kayaking may not be first in your mind when you think of Dallas, you will be pleasantly surprised at what the waterways offer. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned kayaker, there are many diverse lakes, rivers, and parks that will give you precisely what you need on the water. 

Even experienced kayakers still need to remember all safety measures, including gear and letting someone know of their float plan beforehand. Kayaking with a friend is always best, but if not possible, ensure someone knows your itinerary so you can safely enjoy your time on the water.