This site offers easy access to both shallow-water canoeing or kayaking on the river and Gulf of Mexico. Rutherford Beach, in central Cameron Parish, lies south of the communities of Creole and Oak Grove near the Mermentau River. Your options include paddling on the river for nine miles or so to the navigation channel outlet; then you could move into the Gulf (check ahead for tide information), paddling to nearby oil rigs and back to the west along the coast to Rutherford Beach. Keep in mind that strong winds could make paddling difficult on the Gulf water, so use caution and be aware of the tides. You’ll find many miles of beaches in this area, which is known for birding and shell collecting. From Lake Charles drive south on Highway 27 to Creole; continue south on Highway 82 to Oak Grove; turn west on Trosclair Road; go 1.5 miles to Rutherford Beach Road; turn south on Rutherford Beach Road; go 2 miles to the beach. For more information see www.creolenaturetrail.org.