Last summer Susan & I became kayakers. We love hitting the Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach and exploring the mangrove tunnels and islands. We are ready to get out and explore some other sections of the Banana River & Indian river this year as well as travel central Florida to discover other great kayaking spots.
So, we need to do some recon…we wanted to see what some of the spots look like in east Orlando that comes up in our google searches to see if this would be a location for to go kayaking. Little Econlockhatchee and Little Wekiva River were are destinations, but we didn’t quite make it there on this outing. We had a slight detour that turned into a fun afternoon adventure. We just got onto SR520 from SR528, aka the beachline (or if you lived in Brevard County any length of time you remember calling it the Beeline); where we passed a sign for the Tosohatchee WMA & Susan said do a u-turn, let’s check that place out. I am kinda glad we did! This park is about 2.5 miles from 520 and it is huge! The entry/registration/welcome area had a map showing the area that highlighted hiking, bird watching, photography, hunting, and fishing. There were several spots marked to launch your non-motorized watercraft along the St Johns River and on one of the several lakes in the area. Time to go check out these launch sites!
The main road out was a long power line road. the name was perfect because of the miles & miles of power lines along this dirt path (hard for this city boy to refer to it as a road) Along the way we saw some pretty cool sites. Turtles, blue herons, abris**, and turkey buzzards. We even saw a 3’ gator. We passed a couple work crews that were maintaining some of the towers.
Finally, powerline road ended at the st johns river. It wasn’t officially noted as a boat launch, but I could easily see us being able to access the water to start exploring.
On our way back out, we wanted to check out the rest of the park and to find a good boat launch for a future kayak adventure. The map shows that Lake Charlie is the spot. This road/path was a lot nicer to travel on than power line road. More dirt than rock. Some grass too! We needed to get south of SR528 for our next recon spot. As we pulled up to Lake Charlie, we could see at least 2 trucks parked. One was a couple fishing with their dog (dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed) and another truck parked near a footpath leading to a dock. The banks of the lake made me think this would work to launch the yaks.
I am enjoying the view and taking a couple pictures of the clouds reflecting off the glassy lake when I hear Susan in a loud whisper calling my name trying to get my attention. She is waving me over and pointing towards the dock in front of her. I see a Dad with 2 kids fishing…what’s the big deal??? Then I saw what she was pointing at…this gator had to of been 8’…drifting in the water in front of the family on the dock…he was as curious about us as we were about him.
(I really wish I had my Nikon at this point. Note to self: Always bring your camera)
Talking with the Dad, he says they come out here often to fish and see gators like this one quite often. It is actually a destination when they have friends or family in town that want to see a gator. I told him that this was our first time out here and that we were doing recon for a kayak excursion. He did not recommend going out here and that Little Ecco was one of the best spots in East Orlando. I had to agree as I was getting the final look at the 8 footer staring us down.
So, if you are looking for also looking for a new spot to kayak; I probably would not consider Tosohatchee…but I would recommend you check this park out if you like to see some Florida wildlife, do some hiking or driving through some pretty cool looking undeveloped Florida terrain. CLICK HERE for a link to google maps for location.
Curious about kayaking in Cocoa Beach? Here is a post on mangrove tunnels and the bioluminescence Yakitty Yak! Hooked on kayaking