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Wekiva River Report

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Report By:  Unknown    Date: 1/27/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 9 photos     Map & Directions: View

Paddle downstream from Katie's Landing 4 miles to Blackwater Creek, up the Creek 70 minutes, distance unkown, then back to Katie's.

My Report:

The Wekiva River begins at Wekiwa Springs, northwest of Orlando, flowing north 15 miles to the St Johns River. Yes, the River and Springs have different spellings. Wekiwa, means "spring of water", Wekiva "flowing water" in the Creek Indian language, according to the Wekiwa Springs State Park brochure.

I think the Wekiva, and its tributaries, Rock Springs Run and Blackwater Creek, offer some of the best, if not the best, paddling in Florida. It is my "home" River, so I am biased, but I have not been to any other place in my travels where I have seen both black bears and manatees. Not on the same day, so far.

There are five different trips I take on the Wekiva. This is the "Up Wekiva, Down Blackwater, and Back" Trip.

Today's launch site is Katie's Landing. A few years ago, this was private land, offering rentals, fishing, and mobile home parking. I first saw it in 2005, after the State bought the property. All the buildings are gone. The only man made objects are a kiosk with River map and a Port-o-Let. If any readers have memories or stories from the old Katie's, please comment below.

The landing is at the 10 mile mark of the Wekiva. The end point for many people coming from the State Park, and shuttling back. The launch is just the bank, drive right up. Parking is limited, but space is usually no problem. I was the only car at 10 am this cool Sunday.

I shoved off, into a River current flowing at a good clip, thanks to recent rain. Cloudy and cool, the high would only reach 66. The first mile has homes on the right bank, the Seminole State Forest on the left. Wekiva River Haven, a small Fish Camp, is the last building before the River enters the Lower Wekiva State Preserve. As I passed Wekiva River Haven I made a mental note that all the rental motor boats- row boats with 8 horse engines, were still at the dock.

I let the current do the work as I made my way past cypress, palm and oak lined banks. Bird life included ibis, green heron, blue heron, great blue heron, redtailed hawks, vultures (as always on any paddle), pileated and other woodpeckers, limpkins and others I may have forgotten as I write 3 days later. Turtles came out as the sky went from cloudy to clear. One small alligator recharged its cold-blooded body on a log.

I reached Blackwater Creek 90 minutes after I began. I also saw my first other people of the morning, two anglers in a small motor boat, downriver from the Creek. I entered Blackwater, paddling upstream. Blackwater is a changing waterway. I've paddled it when the level was low and clear, small springs providing most of the water. Other times, heavy rains cause it to overflow into the cypress forest. This trip, the Creek was in its bank, but higher than my last few visits.

My plan was to paddle upstream for 90 mintues. 5 miles upstream is a launch site inside the Seminole State Forest. My first time on Blackwater I launched there. A permit is required so you can unlock a gate. I have not been back since, although I have tried, phone and emails to the State Division of Forestry unreturned.

Blackwater is narrow, winding and full of obstacles. But I was able to make my way around, over or through all of them until reaching a mass of vegation, to thick to get through. It was 70 minutes into the up Creek trip, so I turned around. The right bank, left as I came about, has blackend palm trunks, evidence of a major wildfire in the summer of 2007.

I relaxed heading downstream, scanning the banks for deer or bear. None today. Stopped for a sandwich, enjoying the cool, mosquito free, day. Near the confluence with the Weikva, an unseen alligator, thrashing, splashing, sought cover below shoreline vegatation as I approached.

Back in the Wekiva, I dug in for the upstream paddle. I had the advantage of a north wind at my back. Cloudy morning, sunny, cool afternoon, meant a front moved through. I counted on this when planning the paddle. Nice when the weather report is accurate. Unlike the downstream trip, I did see boats on the River. Perhaps five. No other paddlers. An otter poked its head above the surface, only to quickly disappear.

I completed the paddle at 4 pm or so, six hours after I began. A lone angler was on the bank at Katie's, he left, and just as the day began, I was the only person present.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 12
Fees/Costs $: Zero

Photos from Wekiva River:    (Click image to view full size)

Blackwater Creek No Comm
Blackwater Creek

"The Real Florida"

Great Egret Poised No Comm
Great Egret Poised
Turtle No Comm
Green Heron No Comm
Green Heron
Mottled Ducks No Comm
Mottled Ducks
Dead End No Comm
Dead End
Wekiva No Comm

Blue heron, ibis, turtles

L'il Gator No Comm
L'il Gator
Katie's Landing No Comm
Katie's Landing

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsFor a post paddle walk, a parking area and short trail in the Lower Wekiva State Preserve is a half mile east on State Rd 46. More hiking in the Seminole State Forest, west, across the Wekiva, and a mile or so further, Rock Springs Run State Reserve.

Post Date: 1/29/2008

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