Sunday, June 11, 2017

Canoeing on the Hillsborough River–Hillsborough River State Park

I seem to have lost half of my kayak paddle, so we rented a canoe for this trip.  We got a later start than we planned because the rental office didn’t open until 10a, but that might have been because it was a weekday.

Coquina
Coquina in the river

There are three spots to launch in the park – two next to the pool area, and one in the campground.  All of the rentals are available right next to the pool area, so that is where we launched.

Downstream-2We started our trip by heading downstream. The water in the river is very calm in this section of the river, the current is barely noticeable.  I was amazed by how clear the water is; no tannin can be seen even though the river goes through a lot of swampy areas before arriving at this point.Gnarly tree

The clear water makes it easy to spot the fish in the river.  We saw several gar, and probably a couple thousand plecostumus.  I see these fish all over the place (they are invasive, and got their fin-hold in the Florida ecosystem from people dumping their freshwater aquariums), but I’ve never seen so many in one spot before.  It could be because the water is so clear.  They sure have taken over the aquatic neighborhood.

Gator swimming byWe followed the river downstream until we came to the park border.  One of the rangers told us that the river is an easy paddle further downstream, but to be aware that there are about seventeen branches in the river and they’ve had a few people get lost down that way.  If you use a mapping app like Wikiloc, this shouldn’t be too big of a concern – apps like that make it very easy to retrace your route.OMGOMGOMG-Turn Around

On the way back we saw a young alligator crossing the river.  The picture isn’t that great, but you can see he was only about five feet long.  When we returned, we paddled upstream a little ways past the launch site until we saw what I think was the same ten-footer in the river that we saw sitting on the bank during our hike the day before.  This was our signal to turn back.  (Tina doesn’t care for paddling with gators – if you hover over the picture on the right, you might appreciate the name of the photo).


Anhinga on palm tree-2
Anhinga on Palm
bridge over river
Footbridge over River
Tina and Andy paddling-2
Tina & Andy

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