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Winter Park Chain Of Lakes Report

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Report By:  Unknown    Date: 4/22/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 18 photos     Map & Directions: View

I celebrated Earhday by paddling 4/5 of the Winter Park Chain, omitting only Lake Minnehaha. 2.5 hours on a beautiful morning.

My Report:

I live in Winter Park, so this could be considered my "home" paddle. I rarely do it, maybe 5 times in the last 4 years. I prefer wild, untamed places. Yet, the Winter Park Chain does have its charm, especially on a weekday morning.

I launched at Fort Maitland Park, in Maitland, FL, on Lake Maitland. I do not know why it is the Winter Park Chain, and not the Maitland Chain. Perhaps because three lakes, Mizell, Virginia, and Osceola are entirely in the Winter Park city limits. Maitland can claim just one, Minehaha. Lake Maitland is shared by the municipalities. There was a Fort at Fort Maitland Park in the 1830's. One in a chain of outposts built during the U.S.- Seminole wars The Fort to the north, Sanford, grew into the town of the same name, to the south, Fort Gatlin evolved into Orlando.

The park is 1.3 mile from my home. It has an asphalt ramp. On the right side, looking at the Lake, is a grassy area where I launch. A fisherman was putting his small boat in as I launched, Ione other car in the parking lot at 8:20 am. I was in the western edge of Lake Maitland, in a narrow bay. Water flat, sky blue. The water was disturbed by a a group of hard paddling kayakers. 5 guys in long yaks who appeared to be getting in an early morning workout. I was out for pleasure and scenery, not sweat.

Out of the bay, I turned right, heading south by southeast. Dog Island on my left, the Winter Park city line ahead. The border is marked by cypress trees at narrows. Anhingas served as border guards. I paddled to the south shore of Lake Maitland, looking for the canal entrance. I missed it, but got to check out the Kraft Azela Gardens from the water. No blooms, a lot of cypress trees. The canal is next to a Rollins College boathouse. This is the Venetian Canal, linking Lake Maitland to Lake Osceola. It and the other canals were built for logging. The area was covered with pine forests in the 19th century, logs were floated across the lakes, through the canals to sawmills.

On Lake Osceola, I paddled south by southwest to a narrows, then near the east edge to the Fern Canal. Just before entering the canal I had a brief by water tour of the Albin Polasek Museum. Several of the sculptor's works are visible from the water. In the Canal, I smiled as I saw the cars above on Fairbanks Ave. It was 9:15. I am usually in my car about 8:45 at this location. Being in a yak is much nicer.

I entered Lake Virginia. Rollins College on my right. I turned left, paddling a short distance to the Genius Canal, the shortest in the Chain. Lake Mizell on the other end. I paddled left, towards a cove where a few years ago I spotted an alligator both from my car and bike. I did not see any today, I did spot a green heron, here and later on Lake Maitland, I also saw great blue herons, a tricolored heron, great egrets, osprey, wood ducks, mallards, red winged blackbirds, morhens, turtles and fish. It is a shame I did not take up kayaking 10 years ago when most of Lake Mizell had no homes. But the owner died, the estate sold the land which has been subdivided. A good portion of the shore, perhaps a quarter of the main part of the lake has not been built upon. One animal I heard but did not see, were peacocks. They are a legacy of the former landowners. Hugh McKean and Elizabeth Genius McKean. The McKeans were the main benefactors of the Morse Museum of American Art, featuring the works of Louis Comfort TIffany. More than one of the magnificent glass works on display features peacocks.

The peacocks were loud, but invisible to me. I retraced my paddle back to Lake Maitland. A few fishermen were out, a guy in a canoe with oars, and only one big fast boat. I landed about 10:45. Nothing like a morning in the yak to celebrate Earth Day.

Here is another version of this paddle with additional pictures if you are interested,

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: Lake
Boat Type: Kayak
Fees/Costs $: Free

Photos from Winter Park Chain Of Lakes:    (Click image to view full size)

Lake Maitland No Comm
Lake Maitland
Lake Maitland yaker No Comm
Lake Maitland yaker
Kraft Azalea Gardens No Comm
Kraft Azalea Gardens
Sculpture Garden No Comm
Sculpture Garden
Genius Canal No Comm
Genius Canal
Rollins College No Comm
Rollins College

Knowles Chapel

Fern Canal No Comm
Fern Canal
Great Egret No Comm
Great Egret
Anhinga No Comm
Venetian Canal No Comm
Venetian Canal
Venetian Canal II No Comm
Venetian Canal II
Ventian Canal III No Comm
Ventian Canal III

Entering Lake Maitland

Great Blue Heron No Comm
Great Blue Heron
Gator ! No Comm
Gator !

This is a good landmark - at the entrance to the long bay and Fort Maitland Park

Launch/ takeout No Comm
Launch/ takeout
Great Egret No Comm
Great Egret

June 26, 2008. Lake Minnehaha

Limpkin No Comm

June 26, 2008. Lake Maitland

Anhinga No Comm

June 26, 2008. Lake Minnehaha


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsAn alternate launch site is Dinky Dock, next to Rollins College off Fairbanks Ave in Winter Park. After a morning of paddling, get some culture at the Morse, Polasek and Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Winter Park, and Maitland Art Center

Post Date: 4/14/2009

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