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Trip report: Dec. 2016

Loxahatchee River - North... Paddling at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

The Loxahatchee River 8.5 mile State Designated Paddling Trail runs from Palm Beach County's Riverbend Park to Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Martin County. While the trail can be paddled in a single downstream trip using a shuttle, most visitors paddle out and back from the one of the two parks. On this page we describe paddling portions of the trail at its north end from Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Separately, we describe paddling the south end at Riverbend Park (see link at bottom of the page). (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Locahatchee River North at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, kayak, canoe

Distance: 8.5 mile paddling trail one-way
Location: Palm Beach and Martin Counties
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Tidal: Partial
Launch points: Jonathan Dickinson State Park (north), Loxahatchee Riverbend Park (south) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Trapper Nelson Interpretive Site, Jupiter Beach and Inlet, Jupiter Lighthouse, Palm Beach

Loxahatchee River - North... Comments and Photos

At Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the river is wide and tidal, before narrowing at Trapper Nelson Interpretive Site. In this section, motor boats may be encountered. The launch is at the public boat ramp, it is requested that the outfitter's launch not be used unless renting from them. The outfitter provides a shuttle.


Jonathan Dickinson SP to Kitching Creek

We paddled upstream from the boat ramp at Jonathan Dickinson State Park (the official end point of the State Trail). This section of the river is tidal and lined with mangrove. Our original goal was to paddle 4 miles to Trapper Nelson's, past which the river becomes a narrow, more diverse freshwater environment. However, with tide and weather against us, we decided instead to explore Kitching Creek, which enters the Loxahatchee about 1.7 miles up from the boat ramp and less than a mile up from the State Park concessionaire.

 


Paddling on Kitching Creek

Kitching Creek is the highlight of the river when paddling from Jonathan Dickinson - here we discovered a microcosm of everything we had wanted to see much further upriver. Watch for the water gauge marking the entrance to the creek. Although navigable for just over a mile (at best), the creek quickly transitions from salt to fresh. About half way up, it becomes increasingly more narrow and twisty. Here shaded by overhanging trees and Spanish moss, paddlers can enjoy unspoiled views of semitropical flora and fauna. Many birds and turtles; we heard some large splashes, but never saw the alligators.


Wildlife

The 11,500 acre park encompasses 13 natural communities. Wildlife includes alligators and turtles on the river, otter, raccoon, deer and more, and over 150 species of birds.

Paddle Loxahatchee River, kayak, canoe, Florida

About Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Jonathan Dickinson State Park was originally a top-secret training facility during World War II for a new technology called "radar." After being decommissioned, the State obtained ownership and the park was opened in 1950. The park has a Visitor Center, concession and restaurant, camping, hiking, biking and equestrian trails, picnicking, fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing. Boat tours of the river, equestrian tours and a farm wagon ride are available. admission fee, boat ramp fee additional.

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