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Trip report: Nov. 2012

Upper Peace River Paddling Trail... Bartow to Fort Meade

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)

Continue to Upper Peace River below, or go to Overview page for more Peace River


Canoe Outpost - Peace River  (rentals)

SR 60 Launch, 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.

Heritage Peace River Landing - downstream

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


Upstream, past SR640 bridge

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.


Birds - Flocks of white ibis

Many birds seen through this section, plus a gator sunning on the shore. A little island near the launch was a popular bird roosting spot.

Mosaic Peace River Park

Mosaic Peace River Park

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.

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.


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



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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