Carpenters Bayou watershed is located in eastern Harris County. Carpenters Bayou’s headwaters begin slightly west of Lake Houston where the bayou flows south until it joins Buffalo Bayou at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and flows on to the Houston Ship Channel. The East Sam Houston Tollway parallels the bayou. This watershed covers 25 square miles with a population of 38,417. It has about 44 miles of open streams including Carpenters Bayou and its tributaries.
The Paddle Trail for Carpenters Bayou starts at Sheldon Lake Park: it has a parking lot off of Garrett Rd. about 1/2 mile east of E. Sam Houston Pkwy. On the east side of the parking lot about 50 yards south of Garrett Rd. is a small gravel trail leading right to the water. This is the easiest place to launch, although anywhere in this vicinity is ample. Head towards Garrett Rd. and go under the bridge. This part of the reservoir is more mysterious as it has less definition and has a more natural quality. Paddle due north and the constricted bayou section comes into view. A short distance more and you can go under the Lake Houston Parkway Bridge. The narrow ditches along the parkway can also be paddled for distances on either side of the bayou. North of the bridge the bayou narrows. Right about where you can't go any further upstream, the boundary of the public land coincides as well. The return trip will feel different because the bayou will get larger and larger as you return to the reservoir.
Most of Carpenters Bayou is ditch-like and typically too small to float down. The extreme lower section is very industrial and has no parkland. The creation of the Sheldon Reservoir has flooded a part of the upper section of the bayou; this has been turned into Sheldon Lake State Park. The northern part of the reservoir is still very bayou-like while the southern section of the reservoir is more lake-like and has a large boat ramp. A whole system of marked canoe trails through all parts of the reservoir is ongoing and can be verified through the Sheldon Lake Environmental Education Center, 281-456-2800. Bald Cypress trees, water lilies, and bird rookeries abound in this magical wetland area. A number of alligators also live in the protected habitat. No boating is allowed from November 1 through March 1.