Loxahatchee River was back in the early 80's. The first time I kayaked on the river was last weekend. Why the long wait? I don't know either. I should have done this many years ago and many times by now. As you may know if you follow this blog, I have kayaked or canoed many places in South Florida and around the state. I have enjoyed kayaking many more times and places than I have ever posted. When I say this trip was unique, you can take my word for it.
There are a few points along the Loxahatchee River you can pick up a canoe or kayak. This particular trip began at River Bend Park. I heard a lot about this section of the river and I was well prepared. The first order of business was to rent a kayak. My inflatable was a no go. The water level in the river changes drastically and this day it was low. That means a lot of bumping over logs.
I rented a kayak at Canoe Outfitters of Florida right inside the park. Clicking the link will give you a pretty good idea of what they offer but bottom line, a kayak for the day - $25.00. I own an eleven foot inflatable Sea Eagle 370 and in the past have always rented ocean kayaks of about the same or slightly smaller size. The kayak I rented for this trip was about 7 feet long, a sit inside type, and a lot more tippy than I'm used to. About half way through the trip I noticed foot cleats inside. As soon as I adjusted them and started using them, my back stopped hurting and the kayak became much more stable. Wish I had noticed them sooner.
This is the kind of place you can enjoy over and over or a must do at least once in your lifetime. For me, it was a one hour drive and a million years back in time kind of trip. You will not hear a car or plane 99% of the time. Only the sounds of running water and wilderness. This is where I am going to give you a wealth of information to make your trip more enjoyable.
Call ahead - This is a small river with a limited amount of boats for rent. I had no problem but I would make a reservation to avoid possible disappointment.
Go early - The Canoe Outfitters opens at 8:00 am. We arrived at 8:30 am but still had the entire river to ourselves all the way out to the turnpike bridge. The way back was a totally different story. The river went from slightly congested to packed with novices.
Bring a camera - When else will you have an opportunity to see ancient, giant cypress trees unless you are lost in a swamp. There are also some great wildlife shots along the route.
Dams - There are two. You may be able to slide over them on the way out if the water is high enough but you will need to get out of your boat and drag it back the other way. It's actually a lot of fun even if I totally sunk my kayak on one. A dry bag is a great idea. Wish I had brought mine.
Alligators - They have them and in abundance. They will not eat you unless you are stupid. If you are stupid, and you know who you are, stay home. That goes for noisy, reckless, a litter bug, or just plain ignorant. This river and all the plants and animals who live in it were here long before you were. Try and remember you are visiting their home and use some of that common sense and common courtesy that seems so rare these days.
Skill - That all depends in the water level. On the day I went, it was a bit more challenging. There are obstructions and currents all the way down and back. For me it made the trip worth while. For some canoeing couples, it was putting relationships to the test. I will very likely go back when the water is higher just to see the difference.
Choices - If the river seems too intimidating, going the opposite direction at the start takes you down a wide and extremely flat canal. There is even a picnic area and launching beach if you brought your own boat. Much more suitable if I want to come back with the inflatables another time.
Once the canoe ride was over, I found some very elaborate and well marked walking/bike paths. They are all crushed coral with the occasional bridge. I walked along for a while as I was drying out but decided I would return with the bike and fully explore them soon. Not too far of a drive for a truly unique get-a-way from the big city.