-by Judi George
Johnathan Dickinson State Park offers several experiences that you can enjoy whether you are visiting for a day or, camping for a longer stay. The Florida State Park website shows it is one of the largest and most diverse parks with more than 10,000 acres of land.
While camping in early December I had a morning to myself and so I thought I would take advantage of some alone time during my stay and I went exploring the park.
Hobe Mountain Tower
My first stop was the Hobe Mountain Observation Tower.
The observation landing is 86 feet above sea level with nice views of the area.
The walk is a wooden boardwalk with quite a few steps that will get your heart pumping.
Here you can see the intercoastal waterway just across the street from the park.
There is an informative trailhead where you can read about the history of the park.
My next stop was the Loxahatchee River. I had planned to take the pontoon boat tour that the park advertises. I was the only person for the tour that morning and the captain requires a minimum of two people to make the trip, therefore he wouldn’t go out. At first, I was a little disappointed until I realized they also offer kayak and canoe rentals. I had none of my kayaking gear with me but, I am adventurous so I thought I would try a canoe.
In full disclosure, I am an experienced paddler. I don’t think I would recommend a solo trip for someone new to the sport. I chose the canoe since I was in street clothes rather than river-wear and because the kayaks are self-bailing, which means there are holes in the bottom to drain if water gets into the boat. Also your shoes and bottom are likely to get wet, and because I also had my good camera with me, I didn’t want to have it on the bottom of the kayak.
Once I rented the equipment and got on the water, I forgot all about the pontoon boat disappointment. The water was so relaxing and beautiful. I was the only one out here. I love to be the first in the area when I kayak in the morning.
There is a better chance to see wildlife before motorboats because the daily noises scare them into hiding. The store clerk had suggested that I paddle up to Kitching Creek for the best chance to see any wildlife. I am happy I took his suggestion. Once I was on Kitching Creek I was rewarded with a special shot of Rocky looking out at me through the mangroves.
I caught sight of a turtle,
and bird on the shore of the creek.
The deeper I went into the creek I could tell it was less traveled by the siting of a couple of alligators. Since I was alone, I chose to make this the turn-around point before the creek became so shallow I might need to walk the canoe to turn it around.
The return trip to the boat landing is quicker since you are going downstream. The fishermen with their motorboats were out by then.
I was able to see a couple of nice hawks along the river. Here is one.
I still haven’t taken the mountain bike along the trails at the park which means I will need to come back. The evening brought a gorgeous sunset.
This is just one of the many Florida State Parks to enjoy. Thanks for coming along with me on my journey. Until next week.
-Peace, Love and Paddling