"Oh, The Places You'll Go!"

You haven't seen Florida until you've seen it from a kayak!

Saddle Creek Park
Tenoroc Fish
Management Area
Lakes Gibson/Crago/Parker
Wekiwa River
Chassahowitzka River/
National Wildlife Refuge
Hillsborough River
Silver River State Park
Alexander Springs
Haulover Canal /Mosquito Lagoon
Indian River Lagoon




Saddle Creek Park
Situated between Winter Haven and Lakeland, Saddle Creek Park is a very interesting and
varied lake environment with lots of nooks and crannies. It is also one of the largest county
parks in central Florida, boasting over 750 acres ~ most of it lake. Up until the early 1960s,
Saddle Creek Park was an open-cast phosphate mine. After that it was given to the local
county authorities to administer, who then wisely chose to turn it into a local park facility.
It has taken a large part of the time since for nature to fully recover the mines such that the
casual observer would never think the park had ever been used for anything else.


Tenoroc Fish Management Area
Near northeast Lakeland, Tenoroc Fish Management Area is a 7,300-acre tract of land
mined for phosphate until the mid-1970s. This land contained numerous reclaimed
and unreclaimed lakes, locally referred to as "phosphate pits." 6,000 acres of Tenoroc
were donated to the state of Florida by Borden, Inc. in 1982. Although many phosphate
pit lakes exist in Polk county, most are privately owned and are off-limits to the general
public. The land donation by Borden, Inc. provided the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation
Commission biologists with a unique challenge to develop recreational activities on this
disturbed land site. Of those recreational activities most actively sought by the public,
quality recreational fishing has been of primary interest. However, since the upsurge of
interest in flat water kayaking, these watering holes (about 15 lakes in all) have become
one of the best-kept secrets of central Florida.


Lakes Gibson / Crago / Parker
Lake Gibson, located in the northwest quadrant of Lakeland, has a surface area of
489 acres and is in the Peace River - Saddle Creek watershed. Most noted for
its great bass population, it has the highest water quality of the City of Lakeland
lake. Lake Crago (51 acres) and Lake Parker (2,181 acres –the largest lake in the City
of Lakeland), are actually connected by a narrow canal. These three lakes aren't about
nooks and crannies, but rather wide open spaces with a lot of shoreline to host
beautiful flora and fauna quite fit for the picture-taking paddler. Among the sites,
Kissimmee grass, hydrilla, bulrush, and cattail are the predominant vegetation,
while heron, alligators, and turtles are just a few of the wild life representatives
we're sure to see.




Wekiwa River
Central Florida nature exists in its purest from along the Wekiwa River. Located just an hour
from central Lakeland, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers beautiful vistas and a glimpse of
what central Florida looked like when Timucuan indians fished and hunted these lands.
This system of clear springs, blackwater streams, and wetlands provides habitat for black
bears, river otters, alligators, wood storks, and sandhill cranes, to name but a few. We can
even plan our route to include a swim or snorkel in crystal clear Wekiwa Springs where
the water is a refreshing 72 degrees year-round!


Chassahowitzka River / National Wildlife Refuge
Because of its nearly pristine, natural condition, the Chassahowitzka River is one of the
more scenic rivers in Florida. Accessible only by boat or canoe, the "Chass" (as it's been
fondly nicknamed), like most of the other rivers in the Springs Coast Watershed, is spring
fed. Many species of birds, including cormorants, great blue herons, green-backed
herons, ospreys, white pelicans, and various species of water fowl and songbirds have
been observed. Deer, turkey, and even bobcats are occasional residents, among the
"regulars" ~ over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, plus at least 25 different species
of mammals call the refuge home. A safe haven for many endangered and threatened
species, we may well spot nesting bald eagles and West Indian manatees.


Hillsborough River
The Hillsborough River is rich in history, dating back thousands of years. Early indigenous
populations had encampments along the river and in the surrounding area 10,000 years
ago. Native Americans, Paleo-Indians, the Timucuan, the Calusa, the Seminoles, and others
are known to have inhabited sites along the river. The Hillsborough actually starts as an
overflow of the Withlacoochee River. It begins as a slow-moving sheet flow that percolates
through a heavily vegetated riverine forest that has no real channel. For most of the year,
at least for paddling purposes, the Hillsborough River begins where Crystal Springs empties
40 million gallons a day into the river, keeping it runnable even in times of severe drought.
Great blue heron, white ibis, limpkins, and red-shouldered hawk are among the feathered
inhabitants, while alligators, red-bellied turtles and peninsula cooters (also turtles) are
standard residents. Barred owls, roseate spoonbills, wild hogs, and deer are often seen.




Silver River State Park
The park was recently acquired by the Florida State Park System and today offers 5,000
acres of 14 distinct plant communities and nearly 20 miles of river frontage and many
springs. The actual Silver Springs, a nearby attraction, is the headwater of Silver River,
which flows into the Oklawaha River and eventually the ST. Johns River. A paddle trip
on the Silver River near Ocala features some of Florida's most beautiful scenery and
diverse wildlife. This short river with translucent blue springs has been described as
magnificent and magical. Besides the subtropical landscape, the river is famous for its
monkeys (yes, monkeys!). Legend has it the monkeys are descendants of escapees from
the Tarzan films shot at Silver Springs, but the Silver Springs theme park website lists the
source as a concessionaire who operated the Jungle Cruise boat ride during the 1930s.
The monkeys were place on an island in the river and they simply swam off and
disappeared into the neighboring forest. Sightings of kingfishers, ducks, anhingas, and
egrets are typical, as are bluegill, longnose gar, turtles, and alligators.


Alexander Springs
A major recreation area in the Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs issues 80
million gallons of crystal clear spring water every day. There is an established and
popular 7-mile paddle trail that begins just below the spring, and the abundant
wildlife includes fresh water stingrays. Thick subtropical forests, pines, and hardwoods
landscape the shores, and the water in the spring is amazingly clear and bright blue
in spots. A favorite among snorkelers and divers, the depth of the spring pool can reach
over 25 feet. Water flows from a cavernous opening near the middle of the pool and
the flow from the spring creates a large and powerful surface boil that is readily
visible from the shore. Pileated woodpeckers, wood storks, bald eagles, redtail hawks
and ospreys top the list for bird watching.


Haulover Canal / Mosquito Lagoon / Indian River Lagoon
The original Haulover Canal was located about a mile south of its present location and
was used by Native Americans and the early settlers of the area. At times, logs were cut
and laid across portions of this shallow passage and mule teams were used to help haul
the obats through (hence the name). The deep waters fo the canal provide shelter for
manatees, and they can frequently be found there during warm weather months.
Dolphins also use this passage to move between Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River
Lagoon. Wading birds perch on rocks and in the trees that line the canal and flocks of
brown pelicans fly in formation overhead. Other birds include tricolored herons, black
crowned night herons, and little blue herons. Indian River Lagoon is separated from the
Atlantic Ocean by a series of protective barrier islands and is made up of three bodies
of water: Mosquito Lagoon, the Banana River, and the Indian River. Shallow water
means there are many opportunities to get out of the yak and explore. Time permitting,
we can go to the Banana River National Manatee Sanctuary, where electric motors are
not allowed. The Sactuary is inside Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which
encompasses the Kennedy Space Center.



about trips Calendar terms and conditions Reservations Contact Photo Gallery Gift Certificates Other Cool Stuff shop links site map

Copyright © 2007-2017 Have Kayak Will Paddle