Kayak trip on the Loxahatchee River in South Florida

 

 

The Loxahatchee River is a 15 mile long windy river in Palm Beach County, South Florida. Here is a good description of its Canoe and Kayak trail from the www.trails.com website:

 

The Loxahatchee River is one of my favorite Florida paddling trips. It is also the only designated National Wild and Scenic River in Florida. It is a popular canoe and kayak descent that retains a magical beauty and pristine quality surprisingly unaffected by the large numbers of visitors that pour down the river daily. The route follows the winding river from its upper reaches beneath a canopy of spectacular swamp cypress trees with a mix of tropical and temperate vegetation to emerge into a more open vista of mangroves and palms where the tannin-rich stream turns brackish at the tidal limit.

 

Here is a satellite image from Google Earth showing the area of the Loxahatchee River with the Jupiter Inlet all the way East and the start of the trail at the RiverBend Park at the bottom left:

 

 

The following report gives some impressions of paddling this river.

 

Saturday, December 30, 2006

On the last weekend of the year 2006 Jill and I decided to go Kayaking. We chose the Loxahatchee River which is only about a 15 min drive from our home in Palm Beach Gardens. From the Indiantown Road exit at I-95 it is just a mile or so West to the Riverbend Park (yellow dot in the bottom-left corner of the above image).

Next to the parking lot there is a little shop and a rental facility for canoes and kayaks. Jill had called in earlier today to make a reservation. So we got two single kayaks for the afternoon on the river.

Soon we are paddeling down the small river, which looks more like a canal here at its beginnings.

The vegetation surrounding the river is quite dense and the entire scenery is a bit surreal – definitely unexpected given the many communities and wide open spaces all around.

Soon we pass one small “rapid”, i.e. a 2 foot step in the river. When going back, we will have to portage this step, that is we get out of the kayak, pull it out over a little bridge, and put in again on the top.

There are plenty of visitors on the river, which makes for an occasional interesting crossing or a waiting to let others pass. We also see a 6 foot alligator on the banks of the river.

It is a bit disorientating not to see where you’re headed, but the river meanders on and there is always another bend ahead.

At one point a large fallen tree lays across the river.

Right behind it the river winds narrowly between two tree trunks.

Shortly thereafter there is another little rapid in the river.

And this is how you get back up in the other direction:

We continue on until we pass underneath the Turnpike and I-95 highways. This is about 3 miles of the trail. If you carry on, after 8 miles you get to the Jonathan Dickinson State Park. (Yellow Dot on top-left of the satellite picture.) From there one can continue on towards the East, with the Loxahatchee river widening, until you get to the Jupiter Inlet. We will head back for about 6 miles roundtrip.

After the above section there is one more step where we need to portage. There another paddler takes a picture of both of us on the water:

Soon we’re back at the Riverbend Park, return the Kayaks and change into dry cloths. It was about a 3 hr roundtrip – a nice Saturday afternoon diversion, just 15 mins from home…