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Trip report: March 2013

Manatee River...

Serene Paddling on the Upper Manatee River Paddling Trail

The Manatee River flows 46 miles through Manatee County to Tampa Bay. Ideal for kayak or canoe, the Upper Manatee River Paddling Trail runs from Fort Hamer County Park to the Manatee Dam. The tea-colored river can be shallow depending on tides and flow from Manatee Dam; water is sometimes released from the dam; listen for the warning siren. There are many sandbars to pull over to stretch or picnic, especially at low tide. Depending on water levels, there may be some motorboats. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Paddle Manatee River, Kayak, Canoe

Manatee River Paddling Map

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Distance: 9 mile Florida Paddling trail between Fort Hamer Regional Park and Manatee Dam.
Location: Manatee County (Bradenton)
Difficulty: Easy
Tidal: Yes, to Manatee Dam
Launch points: Fort Hamer County Park, Ray's Canoe Hideaway, Rye Wilderness Preserve (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Sarasota, Bradenton


Ray's Canoe Hideaway

 Page Summary:

  1. Paddling on Black Creek Trail
    - Along US 17
    - Black Creek Park
  2. More Information and Resources

Manatee River... Comments and Photos

Along the paddling trail, the river is wooded but depending on time of day there can be little shade in the wider sections. Some side creeks would be scenic diversions, but may be impassable at low water. We saw rope swings in a couple of places. The river narrows above Rye Bridge, with twists and turns and some river obstacles possible. Below Ray's Canoe Hideaway, the river gets wider with more houses, and motorboats.

Wildlife include alligators, turtles, herons, ibis, bald eagles and other birds, and fish; along the river are forest, tidal marsh, and hardwood hammock.

Upstream from Ray's Canoe Hideaway

We launched at Ray's Canoe Hideaway (easy on and off for a small fee), then paddled about 4 miles upstream into the Rye Preserve. Easy paddle with some twists and turns where the river narrows past Rye Bridge. The launch at Rye Wilderness Preserve is a pleasant stop off the river, but to start from there involves a long carry from the parking lot, then down a set of steep steps to the launch - and then back up! We paddled upstream with the incoming tide; on the return trip paddling against the tide was not overly difficult though the wind added some resistance, especially where the river was wider. We paddled on a weekday and only saw one other kayak, on weekends this can be a busy run.

Launch at Ray's Hideaway to Rye Preserve

Rye Preserve and return

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