Florida Paddling Trails Association

Peace River Report
(Upper Peace River)

View: More Peace River reports, Charlotte Harbor/Peace River Locations 

Report By:  tonto    Date: 2/15/2010    Type: Trip Report
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 4 photos     Map & Directions: View

The Peace River flows lazily from the wet lands north of Bartow, Fl down to Arcadia before heading towards Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf. It is a river lined with moss covered trees with many twists and turns thru the natural beauty of southern Florida.

My Report:

Sometimes you live relatively close to a river, but for some reason, never get to paddle there. That has been my relationship with the Peace River. I have lived in the Tampa/ Clearwater area for over 15 years and had never paddled the river. Now some of you may ask, “Where the heck is the Peace River?” It has it’s origins in the lakes and streams north of Bartow, Fl. It winds it way from Ft. Meade down to Arcadia and finally empties it’s waters into Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. This once narrow stream becomes a 1/3 mile wide river at it’s mouth. However, it only becomes truly navigatible south of Ft. Meade, Fl.

When paddling a new river, I prefer to take along a person with “local knowledge” who knows the territory. Tom McLaulin, the new Florida Paddling Trails Association Marketing Director, was in charge of our expedition. Our initial plan was to paddle the approximately 12 miles from Ft. Meade down river to Payne Creek State Park, near Bowling Green, Fl. However, when we went to leave a car at the park, for our shuttle back to the put-in, we found that recent rains had swollen the creek such that it made finding a place to both land our boats and then get them easily back to the parking lot very difficult. Since this was to be a pleasure paddle, we did what most “Easy Paddlers” would do. We decided to launch from Ft. Meade, paddle up and down river and then take out where we had launched our boats. OK, let’s do it I thought.

The weather was a little crisp when we launched, at about 55 degrees, but quite manageable with a jacket and PFD on. The launch went well and we were soon paddling up stream to see how far we would get before downed trees blocked our way. The river was fairly full and flowing at about 1.5 to 2 mph. The river was a dark chocolate brown, colored by the tannin and dark soil from the river banks. On the paddle upstream, I was struck by the natural beauty of the river. With it’s thick vegetation on both banks and moss covered cypress trees, you quickly felt like you were in a jungle like atmosphere. As we followed it’s twisting path upstream, you would round a corner and stare ahead thinking that the river had disappeared into the landscape. Then after a few more paddle strokes, you saw that it was just a very severe horseshoe bend. And so it went as we enjoyed the ambience of this beautiful Wednesday morning.

We managed to paddle around several downed trees. However, after about two miles, the river was completely blocked and it was time to turn our boats downstream. What a thrill it was to ride the current down stream. With the river running at 2 mph, all you had to do was dip your paddle in the water and you were moving at 4 mph. A breakneck speed for one of my paddles.

We wanted to help the environment during our paddle, so we decided to pick up trash on our trip back downriver. With the fast current it was a little tricky, but we were successful in getting some plastic and glass bottles aboard each of our boats. Tom paddled ahead as I picked up some trash. I soon followed him. As I rounded a river bend I saw what initially looked like Tom sitting uniquely and strangely low in his boat. Then I realized that he was standing beside his boat pumping out water. I asked, “What happened?” Tom said that he was retrieving some trash, leaned over a bit too far and then went over. He was OK, his pride hurt more than anything and his wet clothes in the chilly weather meant that our trip was ended as soon as we got back to our put-in. I jokingly teased Tom by saying, “I have known paddlers who like to get very involved in their paddle. However, you have taken the extra step of becoming totally immersed in the Peace River.” Tom was a good sport and replied, “Every paddle with me is an adventure!”

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Location Data:

Launch Site: Grass
Considerations: Nothing Special
Dangers: Nothing Special
Fees/Costs $: 0

Photos from Upper Peace River:    (Click image to view full size)

Paddler on Peace No Comm
Paddler on Peace
Ft. Meade Put In No Comm
Ft. Meade Put In
Moss Covered Trees No Comm
Moss Covered Trees
Tree Roots No Comm
Tree Roots

Post Date: 2/10/2011

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Notice: Reported conditions may change and there may be errors in this text. Florida Paddling Trails Association and author(s) of individual reports shall not be held liable for any omissions and inaccuracies contained herein. Readers are cautioned to supplement reports with other sources of information when planning a trip.

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