Up the Fisheating Creek, with a paddle
Fisheating creek runs about 50 miles draining into lake Okeechobee.
Water Clarity – 8+
Natural Quality – 10 (if you’re not ‘bangin on your canoe)
Elevation – 82′
Perspective – Weekday
The campground is in Palmdale, Fl along Highway 27 – mid Florida and pretty much no-where land – always has been. I’ve been wanting to return here since first coming here as a Boy Scout in the 60’s, near my hometown of Fort Myers – another of life’s little circles. My last visit was forty years ago, then instead of paddlin it was more about motorcycles, friends (Hobbs/Locke/Millican), and partying. On that trek we camped just across Highway 27 and literally rode our bikes throughout the night under a moonlight sky – those years of course another story/chapter of Life at 60. That was 1974 and I don’t recall if this campground was even established at the time – it simply didn’t matter in those years, any vacant field would do.
Over the years I have driven pass the campground numerous times, today and now – its about stopping and paddlin.
The folks at Fisheating Creek Outpost have quite a place – seems they have been in business since 1980 and have it all figured out. Nice website, nice campground, Darcy hooked me up with the perfect site (I thought) P3. They also offer several paddle shuttle options – after my paddle I would suggest one of those – 4 or 8 hour ‘rides’ (downstream).
Because this is a creek, you might want to check water levels, anything above 1.7 is great for kayaks a little more for canoes. I arrived in the rain at 1.3, and overnight it went to 1.8 – for me it was the perfect setting to paddle – shoaled only once in the area shown below.
With the rain of the previous day the morning shuttle was not offered (there is one at noon too), so I took off on my own. Figured I would ‘lolly-gag’ around and let things fall into place – didn’t bother me that I saved a few buck either. ‘Free-lancing’ worked well for me, usually does – but in my paddle I would suggest the 8 hour trip early for anyone wanting to enjoy the place – without a large group.
Yes, there are some large lizards around – but it’s very likely that they will bother you unless you step on one or call their mom a ‘hand-bag!’
– and back in the woods, one heck of a large bee-hive
Now the good thing about lots of people is that they keep the brush cleared out and the trail beat-down – much like Juniper Springs and a few other places I have paddled – it is possible to reap some benefits from those ‘doggone people‘…. after they’ve left :-).
Without a group banging on their canoes or kayaks, it will be possible to amble right up to the wildlife. Paddling alone I gave this place a 10 in Natural Quality. Woodpeckers, Otters, Owls, Herons, Egrets, Deer, the ever-present kingfishers and plenty of those big smilin lizards…..
As I thought about the noon shuttle I paddled the immediate lower section, across 27 and about 1.5 miles downstream. Along the way I met fishin-folks Carl and Beth as they crossed a common obstacle (the only one I encountered the whole trip). After talking with them a bit I turned upstream, past the outpost and worked my way three hours upstream past Lemon lake – paddlin upstream is simply a state of mind.
The trails are apparent (water flow) and well marked, the setting is alot like the Suwannee River in Georgia – the gnarley tree roots. The ‘ride’ back on the lite current was relaxing, and had me thinking on a repeat trip to take the 8 hour shuttle trip early (with fewer folks).
I also had plenty of time to dwell on the legend of the black Pantherbeast in these parts – do I believe it? Well , found something interesting in the picture above…. enlarge
loved the train by the campsite…..
needed this paddle… was actually tired at the end of the day…
Notes; 50-buck shuttle will get you 4 or 8 hours upstream for return (go early, take the 8); amble around the immediate area then take the shuttle next day – or vice/versa. The place gets busy on weekends, reserve ahead if you can. 5o-buck shuttle at Peace river gets you 2-days on the river (fyi)