28 December 2014

KAYAKING: Rivers, A Creek and Mangroves, Florida

CURRENT LOCATION: Rock Creek RV Resort, Naples, FL, USA

If you're a kayaker, you won't be disappointed by what the Naples area has to offer for day-trip paddling opportunities.

Blackwater RiverCollier-Seminole State Park
There’s an informal paddling group here at Rock Creek and we’ve connected with them for this daytrip. We did about 12 kilometres on the Blackwater River today ... left Naples around 10 am and returned by 3:30 pm ... maybe 3.5 hours on the water. There is a longer loop possible here but we didn’t paddle it due to the tidal effect.  We got as far as the Old Grove location just west of Mud Bay. I had read reviews of this trip that described an abundance of wildlife, but we did not encounter it. If anything, we saw very little ... a couple of Osprey, some Anhinga, a couple of dozen flying Mullet, 2 Wood Storks and a half dozen or so other waterfowl. Regardless, it was a nice paddle ... they always are!

The Put-In at Collier-Seminole State Park ...

These dark, quiet mangrove channels are wonderful to paddle through.

Mud Bay is inpassable at low tide. We had lunch here, out close to the middle at about 1:00 pm. ... water is 6” deep now. An hour later, on our return trip up the Blackwater River, at the top of  low tide the water level was dropping. Current is manageable.

                             Helen                                 Bill       Doug              Gail            Hans

Rock Creek / Gordon River                                                   
There’s a boat launch to access Rock Creek at the campground. This is tidal water. High tide the day we paddled was 12:30 and low tide 6:10. We left around 9:45 for a 2.5 hour paddle and weren't in any danger of a challenging paddle back. The return trip was about 9 kms. This trip is an urban paddle, past canal homes, older cottages, some public access points, estate condominiums and marinas. The residential community along this watercourse is here to access the Gulf of Mexico through Naples Bay, which begins just at the mouth of Rock Creek. North of this confluence is the Gordon River. We saw Osprey, Bald Eagles, Night Heron, Ibis, Kingfisher, Brown Pelican and Black Vulture.

A typical forest canopy in mangrove habitat ... 
There are some very expensive homes along here ... mixed with ...  old, rundown, abandoned cottages in the last stages of disrepair. 

Below: At the entrance of Rock Creek into Naples Bay ... paddling right takes you to the Gordon River.

Shell KeyRookery Bay Reserve
This was an enjoyable day trip. Driving distance is only about 23 kms to the put-in. There’s a good sized launch and parking area available for boaters and paddlers. We got there around 9:30 am and had ample room and time to rig the boats before heading out. There is a marked paddling trail here, but staying only along that route, limits paddlers to just a small sampling of what this area has to offer. We kept the trail markers in sight, but lengthened the route by circling nearby islands, travelling up shorelines and through mangrove tunnels ... anywhere we could extend the route and still stay within sight of the markers, we did. Mangrove swamps are extremely easy to lose your bearings in ... there’s a seemingly infinite horizon line, an unchanging shade of green, similar foilage, and it’s difficult to identify unique landmarks. We did see a good amount of waterfowl but no large groupings or flocks. Passed four Dolphin at the end of our day just as we entered the final bay to the take-out. Not a long paddling distance, we did around 8 kms, but spent an inordinate amount of time just sitting in the boats watching birds go about there daily chores. At 2:30, the launch area was littered with boats just leaving and there were few spots remaining in the parking lot.

Luv the Mangrove tunnels ... so intimate, so quiet, so secure!

Dolphins ...  a group of four .. darned difficult to get decent photos!


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