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Trip report: December 2019

Telegraph Creek...

Kayaking a Tributary of the Caloosahatchee River

For paddling purposes, Telegraph Creek is in the Caloosahatchee Region of the Great Calusa Blueway. The Creek originates in the Bob Janes Preserve, flows through Telegraph Creek Preserve and into the Caloosahatchee. 2 launches; WP Franklin South Recreation Area, on the Caloosahatchee River, just below dam and lock (under 1 mile to Creek), the second is a hand launch next to the SR 78 bridge over Creek. Parking here is roadside and limited, best for drop-off, pick-up, or a stop and stretch when paddling. (map, photos below)

Telegraph Creek, Great Calusa Blueway

Distance: about 8 miles round trip
Location: Lee County
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (wind can be a factor on River)
Tidal: No
Launch point: Franklin Lock South Recreation Area (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Fort Myers

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Eco Paddlesportz of Southwest Florida (rentals, shuttle services)

Telegraph Creek... Comments and Photos

Paved ramp at Franklin Lock South Recreation Area (no fee); the grassy area next to ramp makes for an easy hand-launch. Downstream, the Caloosahatchee averages about 600' wide. A calm weekday, so we paddled diagonally across the River and then along the shoreline, taking in an oxbow, then to Telegraph Creek, which enters the River at a sharp right angle. We paddled the Creek upstream for about 3 miles (until downfall) and returned - about 8 miles out and back. A few homes are seen along the Creek, mostly set back. Upstream entering the public Preserve, it becomes completely natural, with scenery, solitude, and wildlife. On this late Fall weekday, still off-season, we were the only paddlers there.


Franklin South Launch to Mouth of Telegraph Creek

We launched from a well-kept grassy area along the shoreline. The Caloosahatchee is wide, but motorboats are slowed, and mostly turn around well before dam and lock. Wind can be a factor here, but crossing the River was pleasant on this day. We took the oxbow shortly before Telegraph Creek and passed a small gator.


Telegraph Creek - from River to SR 78 bridge

Entering the Creek, a few homes, no obstacles, an easy paddle. Shelter is good, some shade, a few birds. The water is tea colored (tannic), fairly clear, little or no silt. It's about 0.6 mi. upstream to the SR 78 bridge. Look to the left for small beach launch. Previously blocked by private interests, this narrow strip was purchased by Lee County for public access. Limited roadside parking, it's about 100 feet sloping to the Creek. We used it for a stop and stretch on our return leg.


Telegraph Creek - from SR 78 Bridge to Public Preserve

Paddling past the SR 78 bridge, there's a large private preserve with exotic animals, with higher river banks and a llama or two at times (we are told), then a few more homes, and then the beauty and solitude of Telegraph Creek Preserve. Lined with oak and cypress, the Creek here is narrow, twisting, shaded, and scenic. Some limestone outcroppings. A few obstacles to navigate nearing the top. We eventually hit heavy downfall and saw bigger blockage ahead, so we decided to turn around, relax, and make it a lazy trip back downstream, going very slowly again through the public Preserve, which for us seemed far too short.


Telegraph Creek - Wildlife

Paddling quietly on our way up, shortly after entering Telegraph Creek Preserve, turning a bend we spotted a large alligator that hit the water as soon as it noticed us. On the way back, it seemed to anticipate our return and we couldn't even get close. It appears this old alligator recognizes a pattern, and shy perhaps, because there are relatively few paddlers in the Preserve. Although we didn't see any llamas going up or back, we enjoyed the usual assortment of gators, birds and turtles. The Great Calusa Blueway is mostly saltwater; this is a pleasant freshwater component.

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