Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mud Creek
 "Old Florida" can be allusive in our modern day, but it is readily accessible along the St. John's River.  When traveling slowly and quietly by kayak, your imagination kicks in. It's easy to envision the prehistoric world of native peoples, the 16th and 17th century of French and Spanish explorers, the 18th century of Jon and William Bartram and the 19th century of chugging steamships.

I joined one of the monthly kayak tours provided by The St. John's County Parks and Recreation Department.  This tour departed from Trout Creek Park (it's a large river so you need to just start somewhere!)

Trout Creek Park is off of the  Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway, which runs 17 miles on the East side of St. Johns River along State Road 13, from Jacksonville South to the northwestern part of St. John's County.  There are several recreational areas and boat ramps in the area making for easy access to the river.  Check out St. John's River Alliance for more details of access to this area.

Our group varied from experienced "yackers" to first-timers.  After some initial paddling and safety instruction, our group made its way down Trout Creek:
Trout Creek
Which flows into Palmo Cove:
Trout Creek opening into Palmo Cove

 The creek and cove are full of estuaries and undeveloped shoreline:

The springs,  alcoves and creeks around Palmo Cove make it ripe for exploration, or you can cross it and  head out into the wide St. John's River:
Opening of St. John's River across Palmo Cove
According to the The St John's Riverkeeper's, The River was formed approximately 1000,000 years ago however, it did not take on its current form until about 5,000 - 7,500 years ago.  Clearly a lot of history, and prehistory, has occurred on the river during this time!    According to the Florida Mast Site File, over 1,500 archaeological sites have been identified along the 310 mile river, not counting the unreported sites.  Native peoples lived, ate, worked, and sheltered along its shores for thousands of years.  Some of the earliest pottery uncovered in North America was discovered on the St. Johns!  The sites along the river vary from prehistoric mounds, missions, forts, shipwrecks and plantations.  
Archaeology Sites along the St. John's River - (Florida Master Site File)

The St. Johns County Parks and Recreation department offers short guided trips at different points along the St. John's River. For a small fee, they'll even bring you a kayak!  It's a great way to get started in exploring, understanding and appreciating the longest and most utilized river in our state.   To find out about future St. John's County tours, contact Kelly Usina at

Or find your own means of getting on the river!  To learn the access points in your neck of the woods, check out the interactive map at the St. Johns River Alliance.  This map shows the river's put-in locations, bathrooms, points of interest, landmarks, etc.

(Photo found at

Happy Paddling!

Text and Photos (except where noted) by FPAN Staff:   Robbie Boggs

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