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Rock Springs Run Report

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Report By:  Unknown    Date: 3/21/2010 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 19 photos     Map & Directions: View

I am using a recent Forum Post, 3-20-10, on rating locations, as an excuse to post today's trip to my favorite location, Rock Springs Run

My Report:

These are the factors listed in the post on rating rivers. I will use today’s paddle on the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run and see how it rates. The sentence(s) after the number were copied from the post, for example 1) Accessibility - such as......” What comes after the space is my response based, mostly, on this morning’s paddle.

1) Accessibility - such as is it easy to find, is the waterway open to paddlers, are rentals .

Very accessible. Sign on the Interstate, another at the intersection of State Road 434 and Wekiwa Springs Road. Wekiwa Springs State Park, my access point, is open 365 days a year, 8:00 am to sunset. I can come earlier and leave later thanks to an “after hours” permit. Today’s arrival was 7:50 am. There is one drawback in accesssibilty. The launch site is a bit far from the parking lot, down hill. Which of course is up hill at the end of the day. I bought a cart to use here, and have found it useful at other locations.
For me, the accessibility is enhance by location. My location, as I live 12 miles away. This gives me the ability to get to the Park and have a decent paddle before or after work, or before the rain hits in the summer, or today, or to get home in time to catch a game, NCAA today.
All of the Wekiva River and 95% of Rock Springs Run is open to paddlers. The exception is the section of Rock Springs Run in Kelly Park. That can be snorkeled, swam, and tubed.

Rentals canoes and kayaks, sit on top, sit inside, singles and tandem, are available. The concession opens at 9, so I like to get out before than. On the water today at 8:10.

2) Quality of Experience - is this a good place to paddle? Scenery? BIG ISSUE: How do we determine this so it is less subjective?

If it wasn’t a good place to paddle, I would not visit 4 times a month. As the name implies, Rock Springs Run is spring fed. As is the Wekiva River, which I paddled downstream for 23 minutes today from the launch to the confluence with Rock Springs Run. Spring fed means the water is usually clear, letting the paddler see turtles, fish and alligators. Not so clear today, thanks to recent rain. On the other hand, when other rivers dry up, spring fed waterways maintain their flow. A leisurely paddle, taking photos of tri colored, blue and yellow crowned night herons, a pie billed grebe, and a barred owl. For me wildlife is an extremely important factor in making a paddle “good”. Today’s trip, like most on the Wekiva and RSR, the wildlife began before I even got in the water. Tom turkey and his harem on the hill above the Spring.

From the State Park to the confluence, a tree canopy covers much of the Wekiva. This continues as I begin the up Run paddle. Palms, oaks, maples, cypress. Wood ducks taking flight as I approach, belted kingfishers darting from branch to branch, small songbird flitting about, squirrels jumping from tree to tree, surprisingly noisy when they land on a palm frond. After 20 minutes or so, the Run enters a open area, the forest is pushed back. Low, marshy vegetation. I often see deer in this area, none today. Blue herons, a tri colored heron and an osprey were the bird highlights

The Run then enters another canopied section. Also begins to twist and turn, can be challenging paddling upstream in a 14 foot kayak. Because of the thick tree cover, wildlife is more difficult to see. Today’s highlight in this section was a limpkin, on the return paddle. Near the end of this second forested section are the only man made items you will see since leaving Wekiwa Springs State Park. Two benches and a fire ring. Otter Camp. A family, or perhaps two was camping, three kids climbing the fern covered live oak that stretches over Rock Springs Run. Along with wildlife, the absence of man made structures make a location “good” in my book. Rock Springs Run also is a paddling site only. No motor boats. Rates a “great” in the Yakdave scorecard. I continued paddling, soon coming to the 2nd of three campsites on the Run, Indian Mound. All 3 sites are primitive, you must paddle in and paddle out everything. Water, food, firewood in, trash out. Apparently the aboriginal inhabitants weren’t so enviornmentaly conscious. That’s why the mound is there. A family was getting ready to leave when I passed. When I returned, I noticed they had left the site pristine. Indian Mound is at the edge of another open section. Deer are often seen here. I bet they were thousands of years ago, that’s why the mound is where it is. Just upstream of the campsite wood posts stick out of the water. Remnants of a logging road. The scenery is lovely and wooded today, imagine what it was like 150 years ago before the old growth cypress were chopped down. Stumps here and there offer mute testimony to what once was.

Now in the second open section, I scanned both sides of the run for deer. Saw several blue herons, a couple great egrets. I think the high water kept the deer away from the Run. However, I did see one. Too far away for a picture, and it moved into the forest as I got relatively close. I paddled to the end of the open section, the forest once again comes to the banks on both sides. It took two hours to reach that point, with one stop to stand on a sandbar and perform some personal business. No facilities once you leave the State Park.

Astute readers are wondering about the third campsite. As was I. Missed it on the way up, which is not hard to do. Big Buck is set back from the Run, unlike Otter and Indian Mound which are right on the bank. A small sign marks the location. I had missed it on the way up. Looking at the deer on the opposite bank, appropriate, if you ask me. Big Buck also was occupied, I could hear the campers’ conversation as I made my way back down the Run. They were on the path that leads from the Run to the camp site. The only one of the three that has a picnic table, not just benches.

Another thing making a paddle “good” for me is lack of people. I want the illusion of seclusion. Rock Springs Run is popular, and is in a major metropolitan area, Orlando. However, very few people paddle up the Run for any distance. Most launch from Kings Landing, and pay the outfitter $10 (I think) to pick you up. By getting a somewhat early start I was able to paddle more than half way towards Kings Landing without encountering anyone coming down Run. Downstream, saw no one other than campers until I was almost back to the Wekiva. From there to the Park, less than 10 canoes. On a hot summer day, this section be over crowded, but most don’t paddle more than a couple miles, or the two hour basic rental time. The day morning was over cast, rain threatening, a few sprinkles fell. That kept people, and alligators off the water. Only saw one of the latter. I landed at 11:50, a bit less than four hours on the water. Not a great morning as trips on Rock Springs Run go. Just one deer, one alligator, turtles, blue, great blue, blue, tri colored, yellow crowned night herons, osprey, vultures, woodpeckers, wood ducks, belted kingfishers, barred owls, ibis, limpkins, great egrets, pie billed grebe. “Not great” and I listed 18 animals. That’s why I love this paddle.

3) Environment - free from pollution, trash, encroachment from development

The Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run are Federally designated “Wild and Scenic River” They are also protected at the State level under the Wekiva River Protection Act. As with any water way, run off is a problem. There is a golf course across the street from the Park. I wonder how “green” the greens are. Criminal canoers add their trash. I say “criminal” because alcohol is not allowed on the Run, yet one sees the usual cans. The folks at King’s Landing should do cooler checks. Today, I saw little trash, just a visor snagged on a log. Some one must have gone down the Run and picked up. That said, the water way is generally clean. The occasional Busch can or juice box is a shock, an exception to the rule.

4) Safety - How safe is it? For rivers, is there info available on river conditions? Motorboats / airboats? Wildlife?

Water, alligators, snakes, bears, lighting, trees falling, can all kill you. Be smart, wear your lifejacket, don’t feed wildlife. The current is swift, with many turns. I compare Rock Springs Run to Juniper Creek. Juniper is more difficult. Dead fall on Rock Springs Run is promptly removed, but trees can topple at any time, so when you go , you may have to portage, or turn back.
The USGS web site has no info on Rock Springs Run. It has stream flow data on the Wekiva. When it is high, or low, assume Rock Springs Run is too. I paddle the Run about 4 times a month, with a post added to Dave’s Yak Tales after each visit, so that may be a good source on current conditions. Motorboats and wildlife were described above. To recap, motors, none, wildlife, plenty.

5) Nearby Facilities - convenient camping, restrooms, parking, public safety, food

Can’t get more convenient than camping on the water. There also is a full facility campground at Wekiwa Springs State Park. On weekend afternoons, the Park can fill up. One more reason to arrive early. That said, I have never been turned back on the occasional Saturday afternoon when I have to work in the morning and paddle after noon. I have seen it full on summer Sundays.
As I was leaving, not arriving, fortunately. State Law enforcement in the Park. I’ve never seen any Park personnel on the Run. Food, I bring my own. I think the concession has chips, soda, ect. On most weekends a hotdog cart is in front of the concession building. I did not see it today. A Publix is about a 1/2 mile away.

6) Other factors - historical, camping, wildlife observation, etc?

These have been covered above. Another “other”. Any waterway and State Park with “Spring” in the name requires a swim. I bet today will be the last Sunday until November that I snorkel an almost empty Spring. There are 13 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails for more adventure. I went home after my swim, beating the rain. Not helping the Badgers beat Cornell.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 8+
Fees/Costs $: 6

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

Tom Turkey No Comm
Tom Turkey
Pie billed grebe No Comm
Pie billed grebe
Bared Owl No Comm
Bared Owl

Under the palm fronds

Pair No Comm

Yellow crowned night herons

Juvi blue heron No Comm
Juvi blue heron

At the Wekiva, Rock Springs Run confluence

Paddling up Run No Comm
Paddling up Run
Paddling up Run No Comm
Paddling up Run
Blue heron No Comm
Blue heron
Limpkin No Comm
Great Egret No Comm
Great Egret
Down Run 1 No Comm
Down Run 1
Down Run 2 No Comm
Down Run 2
Down Run 3 No Comm
Down Run 3
Turtle No Comm
Alligator No Comm
Ibis No Comm
Great blue heron No Comm
Great blue heron
Tri colored heron No Comm
Tri colored heron
Wekiwa Spring No Comm
Wekiwa Spring

Post Date: 3/21/2010

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