I awoke yesterday feeling much better so we decided to head to a nearby park for a paddle on the Hillsborough River.
We had wanted to drive up to Ocala to meet up with John and Carol and paddle the Silver River with them, but after Al rechecked the mileage, we decided to wait until we could find a closer place to meet up with them.
The Hillsborough River is the main source of drinking water for the Tampa Bay area and has quite a few launch points with little parks all along the way. You pay a $2 fee to use the park.
The Hillsborough River Paddling Trail is a good guide for the location and paddling information for the many different launch sites along this long and beautiful river. Many rivers in Florida are spring fed with clear water. The Hillsborough river is not one of those. It’s a black water river with it’s own special beauty from the reflections on the dark water and lots of wildlife.
We decided to launch at Trout Creek Park and paddle upstream towards Morris Bridge Park.
We invited our neighbors Dean and Shirley. We have been trying for a couple weeks to get together with them for a kayak trip. They are new to kayaking so we wanted to find a place they would feel comfortable and enjoy. Shirley doesn’t swim, so we didn’t want to scare her away from kayaking in the future. They just got a Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak. It’s not the exact type we are thinking of buying, but we felt it would give us an idea of what they are like. After we got back from our paddle, both Al and I took their kayak out for a spin. It was a much different feel than the hard sided kayaks we are used to but a very nice kayak. We both noticed how light it felt compared to our boats. I just wish we could find the Fast Track 385 Sea Eagle to test out!
Trout Creek Park is a nice little park with picnic tables, restrooms, kayak wash and a new little ramp for launching kayaks or canoe’s. The $2 fee is something new since the economy tanked, I guess.
Canoe and Kayak Launch
You just put your boat on the ramp and push off…didn’t even get my feet wet! We didn’t try it when we took the boats back out of the water though.
Al and I had never really paddled this portion of the river and didn’t really know what to expect. The river varies greatly from one section to the other and this area was supposed to have a lot of wildlife. That sold us!
The info was correct…we saw a lot of wildlife right from the beginning.
We waited for Shirley and Dean to get comfortable in their new kayak. It took a little time for them to get the hang of paddling together.
We hadn’t gone very far when I spotted a large turtle.
Then I noticed over to the left of that turtle were several more.
Then I noticed what I just thought was background, turned out to be one of the largest gators I’ve seen anywhere except for the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.
He never moved, but he kept a watchful eye on us!
We saw lots of birds, turtles and gators. It was about 80 degrees and a perfect kayaking day.
And lots of Gators and turtles.
Notice the gator behind Al?
Puts new meaning into the phrase “up to your ass in Alligators”, doesn’t it?
Dean and Shirley
I took a very bad video of a gator. Unfortunately my kayak was moving around and I ended up taking the video backwards….which is why is isn’t very stable. sorry..
We had a wonderful day with good company.
It sounds like Carol and John had a wonderful trip on the Silver River in Ocala yesterday. We sure wanted to paddle that with them, but we decided to wait until we were closer to the area. She sent an email that they had a wonderful trip, saw lots of gators and even the monkeys! They were exhausted and will post their blog when they recover a little! Check back, it should be a good one!
Now that the weather has warmed up again, we intend to do some more kayak trips. There is no shortage of places to paddle in this area.