March 2015
Canoe Trip on the Ocklawaha River

 Click the Map and the pictures for a larger view.

The trip was 39 miles from Moss Bluff to Ocklawaha Canoe Outfitter with camping at Silver Springs State Park and Gore's Landing.


After some confusion getting the trip started as I failed to notice my flight landed at Clearwater not Tampa, Mike picked my up and we drove to the Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost in Fort McCoy.

We rented a cabin for the night which was a good idea as we arrived after dark.

The inside of the cabin was simple but comfortable.

The next morning the outfitter drove us to Moss Bluff to begin the trip.

He was nice enough to carry the canoe down to the river.

The first several miles of the trip was on a canal that was built to connect the upper part of the river with a lower more navigable section.

You can see it was a nice day and easy paddling. 

There were lots of birds along the way.

Lots of turtles as well.

After 14 miles of paddling we reached the junction of the Ocklawaha and Silver Rivers.

We stopped for lunch at Ray's Landing a local park and boat launch.

All sorts of people and crafts paddled in while we were there.  The 4 mile paddle from Silver Springs State Park to Ray's Landing is very popular.


It was an upstream paddle to Silver Lake SP so the last few miles was hard work.

After getting to the park we had to carry the packs a half mile to the campground. 

The campground was nice but built for RVs so we had trouble pitching out tents as you could not drive a peg into the ground.  Fortunately our tents are mostly free standing.

It was 1.5 miles to the ranger station to check in.  Fortunately a neighbor gave me a ride.

After making camp we set out to hike to the main part of the park to see the attractions.  It was a 2.5 mile hike but ufortunately we floundered around in the woods for an hour before we got on the right trail.

Finally we arrived at the main entrance to the park.

I was curious to see what remained from the private park that is shown in the map to the left.  This was once a major attraction.

All that remains is the prominade at the headwaters of the spring and the glass bottom boat ride.

By now we were almost into the town of Silver Springs and could see a Denny's sign not too far away.  But we found we couldn't get out of the state park as it was surrounded by a fence and the only exit was from a huge parking lot so more walking.

You can see from the smile on Mike's face that this was better than freeze dried camp food with water that we otherwise were going to eat.

It was 2.5 miles by road back to camp.  I figure we walked 7 to 8 miles on top of 17 miles of paddling.  We were tired.

Next morning we headed back down the Silver River. 

Along the way we saw several monkeys. 

Apparently when the private park closed the monkeys either escaped or were set free and now inhabit the surrounding woods and swamps. 

We saw several, some quite some distance from the park.

Another monkey on a log.

 Back on the Ocklawaha the river now had some current.

The river had few places where there was anything like river banks.  Mostly there was noting but swamps on both sides of the river. 

This really cut down on the cabins and junk that often is along more accessible rivers.

We came upon a flock of egrets.  These birds seem to like to roost together so they assemble in large numbers.  We saw this in the Okefenokee where there were hundreds.


Here there was a few dozens but probably lots more would gather before night fall.

We take a break from paddling before reaching Gore's Landing.

Gore's Landing was a very nice campground.  It exceeded my expectations.

We passed the afternoon reading and for me snoozing a bit in the tent.

Next morning we got on the river early, perhaps too early as it was still dark. 

As the sun rose the light was beautiful.


 A final picture of the Ocklawaha befor the end of the trip.

The trips ends back at the Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost.