What is a Bayou?

Southeast Texas Ecoregions, Houston Wilderness

A bayou as a slow-moving creek or a swampy section of a river or a lake where the water is still.

As Frank and I prepare for our 60-mile walk from Galveston to Houston tracing the journey of small groups of Freedom Seekers, heading in and out of Galveston after Emancipation, we will be faced with a number of creeks and bayou crossings (Cedar Bayou, Highland Bayou, Dickinson bayou, Chigger Creek or Chigoe Bayou, Coward’s Creek, Mary’s Creek, and Bray’s Bayou) on our walk through Galveston, Brazoria, and Harris counties.

The National Geographic defines a bayou as a slow-moving creek or a swampy section of a river or a lake where the water is still. Bayous are often associated with the southeastern part of the United States.  The National Geographic Education page adds, “Bayous are usually shallow and sometimes heavily wooded. They can be freshwater, saltwater, or a combination of both.” This combination is called “brackish water.”

“The Gulf-Houston Region is situated in one of the most ecologically diverse major urban areas in the country. The forests, prairies, savannahs, bayous, bottomlands, coastlines and ocean around Gulf-Houston Region comprise ten ecoregions: seven land-based and three water-based. Ecoregions are large areas of land or water that contain geographically distinct assemblages of species, natural communities, and environmental conditions,” according the environmental group Houston Wilderness, that promotes, protects and preserves the 10 ecoregions in multiple counties around Greater Houston through facilitation of large-scale environmental policy initiatives.

Click on the Houston Wilderness EcoRegion image for more information.