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Rock Springs Run Report

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Report By:  Unknown    Date: 2/17/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 10 photos     Map & Directions: View

The magic kingdom of Florida is not built on drained swamps south of Orlando. It is found north of town, where spring water flows unimpeded, bears roam, deer graze, birds flourish, and paddlers take it in. Rock Springs Run, Central Florida's best paddle

My Report:

I know what you are thinking. "Yakdave, how can you state Rock Springs Run is 'Central Florida's best paddle'?" Here are my reasons. Many of you know, and have paddled Juniper Creek in the Ocala National Forest. I have paddled it often, always up and back from State Road 19. Well, imagine a similar spring fed waterway in the Orlando metro area, not 60 miles away . A place where I have seen bears six times. Juniper, I have not seen bears. Deer, almost every trip on Rock Springs Run. My last two Juniper paddles where deer-less. Although, I did set my deer record at Juniper, 10 on one trip. More alligators and more birds than Juniper. The only animal advantage Juniper has are bald eagles, seen on several occasions, yet to be seen on Rock Springs Run.

Perhaps most important, despite the suburban location, I have experienced less traffic on Rock Springs Run than on Juniper Creek. Now to my report.

I arrived at Wekiwa Springs Sate Park just past 9:30. One minor drawback to launching here is the launch area is 1/4 mile downhill from the parking lot. The surface is loose sand/dirt, I do not think it does much harm to drag your craft. Today, a gentleman asked if he could give me a hand. I appreciated the gesture. In the hot months, I'll take a dip in Wekiwa Spring, 20 yards from the launch to cool off before paddling. This time, I pushed off without a swim. The launch area and open water just beyond was busy this Sunday morning. The Park has an ample supply of canoes and kayaks.

The launch is in on lagoon like area, but the Wekiva quickly narrows into a channel. Five minutes on the water I saw a blue heron, snowy egret and limpkin. Also a lot of humans. The area from the Park to the Wekiva Marina, about one mile, can get busy. The Marina rents canoes, and you may , for a fee, launch your own craft . Rock Springs Run joins the Wekiva a bit more than half way from the Park to the Marina. A 20 minute leisurely downstream paddle.
Saving my energy to paddle up Rock Springs Run, whose water has traveled 9 miles from the source, a second magnitude spring in Kelly Park, an Orange County facility. The current is swift, water clear. A few people will paddle up the Run a short way, few travel very far. If you have ever paddled up Rock Springs Run, beyond the campsites, let me know.

The swift current makes photography difficult. I did pause to capture a red shouldered hawk, alligator, and just missed a big tom turkey. The scenery is varied. Some places a canopy of oak, palm and cypress, others, low swamp like area perfect for herons , egrets, ibis and limpkins

I was about half way before I saw my first paddlers since I entered the Run. They informed me "a ton" of people were behind them. Halfway is marked by three primitive campsites along the Run, two on the left bank, one on the right. I encountered the paddlers as they came downstream. There were quite a few, most in two large groups. But, after "good morning"
"beautiful day" exchanges, the Run was again clear. There are no homes on most of Rock Springs Run, which is within both Wekiwa Springs State Park and Rock Springs Run State Preserve for most of its length. In fact, there are no homes until you exit the State lands. Then, there are maybe 5-10 homes on the final mile of the Run.

It took three hours to paddle to end of the Park, but the Run continues. Another 20 minutes or so, a canal enters from the right. This is Kings Landing, the launch point for downstream paddlers. Beyond Kings, the Run narrows, becomes as clear as glass. Some of the most beautiful paddling in Florida. Equal to the upper part of Juniper Creek. I have been attempting to paddle this area since the spring of 2005. Numerous dead falls made passage difficult, portages many. But last fall, I paddled, and kept going. I saw fresh cut wood. The path had been cleared by the people who operate Kings Landing. Here is a link to my last trip up Rock Springs Run, all the way to Kelly Park for the first time.

Today, I did not go all the way. Just far enough for a few pictures to post on the Green Wave Forum. The Kings Landing website refers to this area as "Emerald Cut"
Apt descrption.

I turned around, the current took me downstream. I stopped for lunch on an island, the second of two just inside the State Park lands. I saw two alligators on the way up. I saw two more on the way down. An otter poked its head out of the water, then disappeared. In addition to the birds mentioned earlier, I saw red tailed hawks, great egrets, great blue herons, wood ducks, ibis, vultures, pileated woodpeckers, belted kingfishers, cardinals, many small songbirds, and heard bared owls, Turtles sunned on logs, while bass swam below. I searched the forest for bear sign, to get a picture on the first Rock Spring Run post on this forum would be quite a coup. No such luck. Have to "settle" for a deer.

I landed back at the launch just before 6, almost eight miles after I began. By the time I dragged the yak up the hill, secured it to the car,a nd left, the Park was closed. Good thing it has an automatic gate.

"Best" is a matter of opinion. I also think the Chassahowitzka and Hillsborough Rivers are wonderful. But from Rock Springs Run, I can be home in 20 minutes. That puts it
No. 1 in my book.
Here are some useful links

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Difficult
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 18
Fees/Costs $: $3-5

Photos from Rock Springs Run:    (Click image to view full size)

Rock Springs Run No Comm
Rock Springs Run

Florida at its best

Alligator No Comm
Deer No Comm
Launch/ Landing No Comm
Launch/ Landing

Wekiwa Springs State Park
The State should issue spearguns to eliminate the exotic sailfin catsfish.

Turtles No Comm

Wekiwa Springs State Park<br />The State should issue spearguns to eliminate the exotic sailfin catsfish.

Hawk No Comm

Red tailed-I think. I get these and red shouldered mixed up. The latter are smaller, fly about, kee kee keeing. Let me know if I'm wrong

Limpkins No Comm
Rock Springs Run No Comm
Rock Springs Run

The true magic kingdom

Ibises ? Ibex ? No Comm
Ibises ? Ibex ?

How do you say more than one ibis ?

Emerald Cut No Comm
Emerald Cut

I think it is a fair description

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsIt's Orlando. Hotels and restraunts abound.

Post Date: 2/17/2008

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