Canoeing Near Orlando Florida

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beardiebloke
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Canoeing Near Orlando Florida

Post by beardiebloke » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:17 am

I will be on in Orlando with work in late January and thought it would be a good opportunity to go canoeing (not totally averse to kayaking but have a preference). I don't normally get a chance to paddle so will be happy with just about anything!

Does anyone have any recommendations for places that rent canoes in the area? I won't have a car with roofrack so it'll have to be a rental by the water.

MikeVeal
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Re: Canoeing Near Orlando Florida

Post by MikeVeal » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:55 pm

Isn't Orlando 'gator territory? That's not the excitement I'd be looking for.

garya
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Re: Canoeing Near Orlando Florida

Post by garya » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:14 pm

We looked at this when we where there. You want to head out towards Cape Canaveral area about 40 mins drive east of Orlando. There is a large lagoon area called the banana river there and a number of companies that run kayak safaris around the area. If your lucky you may even get to spot some manatees on the trip.

If you get the change to shoot over to Clearwater marina in Tampa bay it is also worth a visit to see and support the conservation and rescue work they do. It is a good day out.

Gary A

Riverkeeper84
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Re: Canoeing Near Orlando Florida

Post by Riverkeeper84 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:01 pm

You need to seriously be careful for alligators!
Dreaming of being lost at sea

beardiebloke
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Re: Canoeing Near Orlando Florida

Post by beardiebloke » Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:34 pm

Thanks for the tips. A couple of colleagues are interested in the Juniper Run in the Ocala National Forest. If I manage to do it and don't get eaten by a 'gator I'll let you know how it went.

beardiebloke
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Re: Canoeing Near Orlando Florida

Post by beardiebloke » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:54 am

Well, I did survive so here's a micro trip report... there were five of us in total and we took a rental car to the Juniper Springs Recreation Area which took about one hour fifteen minutes from Seaworld Orlando. This rec' area has a mix of camping, picnic tables, warm showers, swim area and a decent shop selling food, drink and any little bits and pieces that you might have left at home.

After a quick talk covering safety, navigation, rubbish, and animals we were off. They provide large trolleys to make launching easy and the start is very straightforward. At this point they did inspect my bag to make sure that I had no food in any disposable packaging or glass. This really stood out for me and the others; it is incredibly clean. I only saw one piece of rubbish in seven miles. For someone who lives in London that's pretty incredible.

The boats all seemed in good condition with a choice of SOT kayaks and canoes. I went for an aluminum canoe on my own which was a challenge but a lot of fun. The others took SOT kayaks which were easier to paddle solo but keeping top paddles clear of trees was tricky at times. I thought costs were reasonable since you can take your time on the run and rental includes the shuttle back to the start; even more so compared to theme park prices! If you wear a bouyancy aid you may want to call to ask if you can bring your own. The ones supplied are basic foam life jacket style ones. You have to wear those at the start, after that it's optional. We all wore them and to be honest I hardly noticed but your mileage may vary.

When we were there current was brisk but mostly flat with the rapids consisting of one very small blink-and-you'll-miss-it section which all of us managed without any problem. The run is very twisty with many sharp turns, low branches and fallen trees. We were able to paddle the whole thing but I can see why they warn people that they may have to drag a boat over an obstruction. Most of our party had all paddled once or twice before and got the hang of it pretty quickly but one person turned out to be pretty inexperienced but even she managed to get down in a SOT kayak. Having said that she is an incredibly positive happy woman and I can see how someone less chirpy could get very frustrated by being regularly pinned against the odd obstruction when they missed another turn. I would agree with the advice that it's not an absolute beginner run; as much to do with enjoyment as safety.

In the end I was the only one who fell in, it was right at the end (tired?) as I squeezed under a low branch and the current caught the boat and splash... not a huge problem as I could just stand up. One of the people who works there was in a boat right behind and he kindly hopped out to give me a hand emptying and flipping it.

It took us four and a half hours but I think that's very long so if you know what you're doing it'll be much quicker.

We saw three alligators, a couple of around 5 foot and one of maybe 8 or 9 foot. There is a 13+ footer but we didn't spot him. They were perfectly still on the bank to the point where they looked like plastic props from a theme ride. The gators are accustomed to people going past every day so I think that trouble from them is very unlikely if you're sensible. Another paddler who did the run the day before said he had seen river otters as well but no such luck for us. I would recommend taking your time as it's such a scenic trip and much to see.

We only saw two other small parties and one solo paddler but I expect it would be even quieter if you get there earlier.

We were warned about the weather. Just after the boats loaded up for the return trip there was a torrential downpour which I am certain would have made the river very tricky.

Pretty much all the info is here:

https://camprrm.com/parks/juniper-sprin ... tion-area/

I called the rental place a few times with all kinds of questions and they are very helpful.

In summary, it's a perfect day trip, especially if you had enough of the artifice of theme parks. You don't need any special canoeing gear just get yourself there with a rental car. Just consider taking a tupperware box for snacks and non-disposable water bottle but you can even buy those there at the shop. The scenery is stunning and for someone from the UK a totally different experience.

Now ready for four days of powerpoint presentations and teambuilding excercises... wish me luck!

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