Paddling on the lower Ocklawaha
We began our day with a hot pot of coffee on the banks of the Ocklawaha River, the largest tributary to the St. Johns River. We stayed overnight at the Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost & Resort, the perfect place to sleep, relax, and enjoy the river life. Canoe rentals and shuttles are available that allow patrons to kayak the Ockalwaha and conclude at the campsite.
Today, the Tour Team paddled an 8 mile section of the lower Ocklawaha River from the Kirkpatrick Dam to a takeout at highway 19. Before taking to the water, Robin Lewis, a wetland scientist and Putnam County Environmental Council Board member, explained the impacts of the dam on the river and why restoration would be so beneficial to the Ocklawaha, the springs, the St. Johns River, and the local economy.
This stretch of braided river feels wild. We saw an abundance of wildlife including ibis, Alligator, herons, water snakes and turtles. Although its natural flow is impeded and the forested floodplain is damaged as a result, this stretch is less impacted by the dam than the river above the dam. Several boaters were on the water with us as well as folks fishing from the side of the impoundment. Thanks to our partners at Adventure Outpost for leading the tour.
After our paddle, the Tour Team enjoyed a nice walk in downtown Palatka before finishing the day. We arrived at Corky Bells early to welcome people for a Meet-and-Greet. We want to thank our friends at Putnam County Environmental Council, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Putnam County Bartram Trail, and Crystal Cove Marina for your support. We packed the house and made very strong connections. We will return soon!