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Trip report: November 2012

Peace River Paddling Trail...

Upper Section - Bartow to Fort Meade, Florida

The upper river (past Fort Meade) can be very shallow and impassable when the water is low, a positive is that there is no motorboat traffic. Phosphate mining and agriculture led to the deterioration of the upper river and Lake Hancock. The Upper Peace River Watershed Restoration Initiative (link below) seeks to correct the damage.

Peace River Padding Trail, upper section, kayak, canoe

Location - Upper: Bartow to Fort Meade
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points - Upper: SR 60 bridge (Bartow), Heritage Peace River Landing, US 98 Bridge (Ft. Meade Recreational Park), CR 657 (Mt. Pisgah Road) bridge (See map)

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Canoe Outpost - Peace River  (rentals)


Launch along SR 60, Bartow

Parking only, no facilities. The river can be very shallow here and impassable. The launch area was popular with fishermen, unfortunately we saw a lot of trash along the riverbank.


Heritage Peace River Landing

Launch area is parking only, no facilities.

Paddling Downstream from Landing

Downstream the river is narrow with a swifter current, sections can be impassable during periods of low water. Very scenic, with much moss-draped cypress.


 

Paddling Upstream from Landing

The river alternates between wide (some areas seeming like lakes) and narrow; the water was more muddy here. Many birds seen through this section, plus a gator sunning on the shore. At the SRS640 bridge was the only noise we heard along the trail.


 

Wildlife

Many birds seen through this section, especially white ibis. A gator was sunning on the shore. A small island near the launch is a popular bird roosting spot.


Mosaic Peace River Park (boardwalk, but no launch)

Parking, restrooms, a boardwalk through oak and cypress to the river, picnic, hiking trails, interpretative signs.


 

About the Reclamation Project

The 460-acre park near Bartow, FL, is built on the site of an old phosphate mine and represents a reclamation project.


Launch at Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

The launch area offers parking, fishing, picnicking, but no facilities. The river in this area was fed by several streams and more clear, a dark tea color. Near the launch at US 98 there was some road noise, but once away from the road the river's peaceful nature was restored. With low water the current can be swift with some light rapids; be prepared to drag your kayak or canoe, or turn around. This area is best paddled at higher water levels. Tree-lined and serene, our trip was still enjoyable.

Paddling Upstream from Launch

At low water, many obstacles. We ran into a log blocking the river and decided to turn back.


 

Paddling Downstream from Launch

After dragging the kayaks in a couple of spots over the rocky bottom, we decided to turn around as the area ahead looked no better.

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