Nestled within the populous Palm Beach County is the picturesque Loxahatchee River, a federally protected Wild and Scenic River. As its name suggests, this river offers some stunning scenery and a home for plenty of wildlife.Fortunately, it’s only an hour’s drive from the urban sprawl of South Florida, making it the ideal spot for kayaking.
If you’re in search of a kayak trip, the Loxahatchee is one of the best in the state. Of the two Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida, the Loxahatchee is the northernmost, with its official designation applying to the 7.6 miles running from Riverbend Park in Jupiter to Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound.
One of the most popular journeys is the two-hour trek through the cypress forest. This route takes you through the stunning parts of the river, and you’ll catch plenty of wildlife – including fish, turtles and alligators – along the way. The river itself is clear and the color of tannic orange, with a white sand floor providing excellent visibility. It’s also a great place to spot vibrant knobby knees, airplants, strangler figs and ferns, creating a picturesque canopy of greenery.
Just remember that this stretch has two dams, so it’s wise to discuss with your kayak outfitter if it’s worth paddling over the first dam, Lainhart. Remember that both of these dams have easy portage routes, so don’t worry too much.
You can also take a longer journey from Riverbend Park to Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This one-way trip requires more time and skill, as the river winds around and you’ll need to portage several times. Nevertheless, it’s worth it for the incredible views. Depending on the water level, you can expect this to take around five and a half hours. The last hour and a half can be particularly challenging though, so get ready for a workout.
Whichever route you take, there’s no denying the beauty of a Loxahatchee River kayaking trip. Whether you start at Riverbend Park or Jonathan Dickinson State Park, you’ll soon understand why its name means ‘river of turtles’. So why not set aside a day to explore the wild and scenic waterways and create some unforgettable memories?
The Loxahatchee is a great spot for wildlife viewing as well. The river is home to a variety of birds, frogs, and fish. Kayakers might spot a raccoon, mink, otter, or even an alligator. Keep your eyes peeled for animals that you might not expect to see at this location such as deer, bobcats, and foxes.
Before embarking on the trip, make sure to check the water level and wind levels to ensure it is safe to kayak. The drop offs can be dramatic and the wind can make it difficult to paddle. To protect the environment, kayakers should bring their own trash bags and take their trash with them as they won’t find any public trash cans along the way.
The riverbanks are also lush with vegetation. There are plenty of places to stop and take in the breathtaking sights. Cypress trees line the shore and provide some protection from the sun and wind. As you’re paddling along, you may even spot some of Florida’s beautiful wildflowers and lilies.
At the end of your day, make sure to take some time to explore the two parks at either end of the stretch. Jonathan Dickinson State Park is home to a few primitive campsites, picnic areas, and bird watching locations. Riverbend Park is a bit smaller and features pavilions, a playground, and sports fields.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are a few other nearby attractions you can explore while you’re in the area. The Loxahatchee Boomerang Canoe Trail is popular among locals and takes you through some of the country’s most unique wetlands. The historic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse offers tours, exhibits, and stunning views of the surrounding area. For a taste of local cuisine and culture, you can head to the local seafood marina where you can buy fresh catches and purchase traditional Native American crafts.
It’s easy to get to the Loxahatchee River, too. There are several public and private access points for kayaking, making it a great option for locals and visitors alike. Airports such as West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando are all within a couple hours’ drive of the river. This makes it easy to plan a weekend getaway around the kayaking.
When it comes to lodging, there are plenty of options. Hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts are all located within a short distance of the river. If you’re looking for a more unique experience, try one of the many airbnb rentals along the riverbanks. Many offer private docks, outdoor grills, and kayak and canoe rentals.
No matter how long you decide to stay, the Loxahatchee River is sure to please. With its breathtaking scenery and abundance of wildlife, it’s no wonder why this river was designated a Wild and Scenic River. So don’t wait another moment! Pack your kayaks and enjoy the beauty of the Loxahatchee River.