Whether you're new to the sport of canoeing, an
intermediate or expert, you will love the diversity of our river systems. There
are many options for the day paddler -- which range from two-hour to six-hour trips down the
Loxahatchee River (times vary based on water level, current, winds and
If you have your own canoe, you can launch for
free at Riverbend Park; or for a small fee at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Canoe and
kayak rentals are available at both locations for self-guided tours of various parts of the
The two park locations are as
Riverbend Park - Indiantown Road (SR
706) 1.5 miles west of the Florida Turnpike; entrance on the south side of Indiantown
Jonathan Dickinson State
Park - Take Indiantown Road (SR 706) east to
US-1, north to park entrance; on the west-side of US-1. (8 miles)
Other locations may offer access to the river, but we
are only covering the actual park locations that pertain to Loxahatchee River Canoe
Paddle the Loxahatchee River (Riverbend
When paddling the Loxahatchee River from Riverbend Park, there
is always a slight current taking you down the river towards the two dams. This current
helps push you along, but remember that for every hour you paddle downstream, it will take
you one hour and fifteen minutes to return. Once you pass the second dam, you will begin
to feel the slight affects of the tidal waters of the Loxahatchee. The further you paddle
towards Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the more you will feel the affects of the
tide. This is usually not a problem, but it's always a nice bonus if the tide is
outgoing, which will help carry you along your way to the boat ramp at Jonathan Dickinson
Canoeing in Open Water:
If in open/rough water,
a larger canoe, with high sides is the way to go. Be cautious, wear proper U.S.
Coast Guard approved life jackets, and use common sense. Do not canoe in areas of
heavy boat traffic, and better yet; canoe only in established "no wake"
Take a bucket, or hand bilge pump, just
incase you take a wave over the side. Definitely, keep all of your
important gear and valuables in some sort of floating
Be sure to check if the tide is incoming or
outgoing, this will affect you if the wind and tide are both pushing you the opposite
direction you want to go. Some currents in our area, especially close to inlets, can
have extreme currents that could easily tire out a paddler. You can play these currents
and tides to your advantage with a little advance planning. A "float-plan" is always a
good idea. This plan will detail your trip and you should leave a copy for a friend or family
member -- for safety.
Before you run out and purchase that new canoe,
you should do a little research and be sure your spending your money wisely. There is a
vast (price and equipment) difference as you begin looking around at these human-powered
Some of the topics we will cover in this, and
future articles include:
Canoe Size (length,
width, rocker, bow, stern):
Fiberglass - Inexpensive, heavy, and not very
durable. Prone to crack & fade.
Aluminum - Durable, noisy, heavy, not suitable for rocky waterways.
Kevlar - Expensive, but very light and durable.
ABS - Durable, light, able to slide over rocks, good for whitewater runs.
Polyethylene - Extremely durable, well suited for a variety of conditions.
Wood - Expensive, paddles easily, not as durable as more modern
try to wear clothing that is lightweight and comfortable, depending on the local
weather conditions. The newer SPF clothing will help protect you from the
damaging rays of the sun. Bring a hat and water shoes; also a dry bag for
your towel, etc.
Life vests, whistle, first-aid kit, bailer, and water.
Anchor, compass, and GPS optional.
Wind, Water, Tides, and
It's always a good idea to check the local conditions
before you head out in the open water. When paddling in large, open, bodies
of water you will be affected by the wind, water conditions, tides (saltwater),
are many paddle sport outfitters in the area that will provide
Portable kayak/canoe dolly -- well worth the investment. Good ones can be found
for around $80. Depending on the weight of your boats, you may be able to stack
two on top of each other when wheeling them on the dolly. Be sure to buy the
dolly that includes a tie-down strap. You should also take into consideration the
type of substrate you will be portaging your boat over, between your vehicle and
the launch site. Some dolly's fold flat and have removable wheels for storage in
Besides life vests, whistle, and dry
bag -- load up on sunscreen, water, snacks; other options include bug spray,
camera, phone, water shoes, rope.
Our recommendation is to "try" before you "buy"
Glossary of Canoe terms: