Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Destination: We decided to paddle up to the Cagle campground from Corinthian point. It was the morning when Hurricane Gustov made its landfall so we had a serious headwind blowing out of the north and it got stronger during the trip. Oh my aching arms!
Poking around the shoreline near Cagle is a treat, especially for bird watchers, rubber-neckers and anglers. You can easily escape the power boats if you hug the shore line. The northern end of the lake is a dead tree and sandbar rich environment and the power boats stay away from these. If you put in at Cagle, there is lots of shore line both north and south to explore. If you paddle in from somewhere else on the lake, keep an eye out for power boats.
Paddling north on choppy water into a headwind on the morning of the day that hurricane-cum-tropical storm Gustov blew through. The water here is merely choppy. By the end of the excursion, the waves were working on becoming whitecaps. Glad it was a tailwind all the way home...
Cagle is officially known as Cagle Recreational Area and is run by the National Forest Service as part of the Sam Houston National Forest. It has a boat ramp and a serious dock with cleats. The day use parking fee is $5/day. Cagle does have potable water and it also has real bathrooms though you have to walk to get to them. No one is around at the dock to collect a fee from you if you paddle in, tie up at the dock and use the restroom - at least not when we were there. If you want to camp at Cagle, you need to pay the camping fee. This is a bit of a pain since the fee booth is 4/5ths of a mile from the dock.
Picnic area next to the dock and boat ramp at the campground. The Ascospore, our 20 foot tandem kayak is riding at the dock in the middle distance of the photo (the dock is hiding behind the trees in the foreground). Clicking on the photo will show you a closer in view.
Cagle hosts several hiking trails, safe running water and flush toilets. The camping sites are carefully nestled between mature trees. Basically, Cagle is not an artificially rusticated campgound - it's the real thing where you really are camping in the forest. Cagle caters to the RV set with 47 full-hookup sites. You can reserve a camping spot online at www.recreation.com. Some of the camping spots are reservation only and some are first-come, first-serve. The campground fee is $20. There is no lower fee for people who camp in tents as far as I can tell.
Any fees quoted here are subject to change with little or no notice. They are accurate to the best of my ability. Fee amounts are included as a courtesy only, to give folks a ball park estimate of costs. Don't shoot me - I'm just the messenger.
Getting There: Cagle is on the east shore of the lake and on the southern side of road FM-1375. To get there by car, take your best route to FM1375 and then turn off onto Cagle Rd. at the large NFS Cagle Recreation Area sign. There are slightly better directions on the NFS website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/texas/recreation/sam_houston/cagle.shtml.
The approach to Cagle from the south is scenic due to the National Forest and nothing else along the shore. If you click on the photo to get a closer view, the white spec on the shore in the distance is the dock ramp at the campground.
It's a measured four and a half paddling miles from both the boat ramps at Stow Away Marina and Stubblefield campground respectively; eight paddling miles from the ramp at the end of road FM-830; and eleven and a half miles from the dam.
Cagle is in the northern quarter of the lake where there is less power boat traffic compared to points south of FM-1097. What traffic remains is due in part to the boat ramp at the campground which attracts power boat and jet skis. There are no large no-wake zones on the northern end of the lake compared to those on the southern end. This means that on high boating volume days, there's a lot of chop around the Cagle dock plus the occasional inconsiderate jerk on a jet ski. You have to pay attention to your surroundings if you use the Cagle dock, especially on high-volume boating days.
Heading home from Cagle in a hurry before Gustov rolls in. Though the water was choppier, it was a tailwind all the way back and we rounded Johnson Spit (the nearest chunk of land on the left) in under an hour. The Ascospore does a good clip with two people paddling in a tailwind.