FL - Tomoka River - 2003/01/21 - 22 miles



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This Tomoka River trip begins in a marsh just off the intracostal waterway on the developed east coast of Florida and heads southwest into a swampy cypress area punctuated with development and houses. Sable palms, pines and marsh grass line the banks.




Tuesday 8:55 - 15:03
Wind 10-12 WNW morning 15-20 NE afternoon
Tidal range <2 feet Current 1/2 knot
Air 74F Water 68F

I left De Land and drove the 40 miles over to Florida's east coast north of Daytona and Ormond Beach. I had debated whether to paddle Bulow Creek Canoe Trail near the Bulow plantation preserve or to paddle the longer stretch of the Tomoka River Canoe Trail. Both have state parks where launch facilities are available. As it was a sunny day, I decided to do the longer Tomoka river.

I had also debated on whether to paddle from the head of the river to where it emptied into the intracoastal waterway at Tomoka State Park or to start at the park and go the other way. The schematic map shows 4 possible launch sites, the first of which was just off US. 40. I tried to locate this ramp and was unable to find it as I cruised the busy street at the bridge over the Tomoka.




I decided to go to the other end and launch from the park. There is a beach launch available where Old Dixie Highway crosses the river. There is parking but the park entrance fee is required for use. I decided that the parking was safer inside the gate of the park and paid my $3.25 to the attendant. There was a large parking area, a concrete boat ramp, and a sandy area along side perfect for the launch. A store with restaurant, rest-rooms, garbage and drinking water was next to the ramp.
This ramp is about 1/4 miles up the river from the end of the Tomoka River. The river is broad but fairly shallow. A light breeze was blowing directly across the river as I turned up the river into a broad area of marsh with black, suphurous mud along the shore with small, sharp edged oysters on the banks and bottom.


Tomoka River Tomoka River calm water
Northeast, down river of the park




The marsh soon gave way to a more defined river channel that wound past sable palms and pine trees along an uninhabited stretch of the river. The tall trees blocked the wind and allowed a mirrored reflection of their trunks in the protected water. Considering the high density development of the nearby area, it is remarkable to have even a piece of it remain as it was many years ago.



Soon however, civilization crept back into the scene, even though the wild residents were doing their best to reclaim the area as their own. Flocks of ibis and wood ibis covered the lawns and boat houses with themselves and their droppings.

I passed a launch ramp at a marina just downstream of the U.S 1 bridge. The marina was closed, gated and locked so I do not know if this ramp is available on weekends or whether it is permanently closed. I did pass a small community ramp about 1/2 mile down river from the bridge on the north bank. I do not know how you get to it by car, but it was a nice launch with a couple of parking places. I did not see any restrictions on parking from the water, but they might be exclusive to the community.




I continued up the river which gradually became more developed. The river became narrower and more shallow. The water was muddier as well. I passed the ramp at US 40 that I could not find from the street. It appeared to be right next to the bridge and I couldn't understand why I had not seen the entrance to it from the road. It seemed little used, quite muddy and unpleasant. I was glad I had spent little time looking for it.

After the bridge, the river quickly became much smaller and divided into several separate channels. I had not gone far when my progress was stopped by a fallen tree. I turned around here and began the 11 mile paddle back to the park.




The wind picked up out of the Northeast and began to blow hard. It made the return paddle much longer fighting into the wind. I passed the launch site and headed out toward the end of the Tomoka River. This beach provided a brief stop to walk and stretch the legs.

I returned to the ramp and loaded the kayak. The wind was so strong that my foam blocks for the kayak kept blowing off and I had to tie them down until I could get the kayak up on top of them. I also had to be careful that the kayak itself did not blow down into the asphalt on the parking lot. Once I had one strap down, everything was under control and I could finish properly securing everything for the 60 mph trip back to De Land.


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