Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tomoka River

I went to Tomoka State Park on Sunday, November 25, 2007 and paddled four waterways on this fourth trip of the four day holiday weekend. Tomoka is located in Ormond Beach, just north of Daytona. On the drive, I saw a bald eagle near the junction of I-4 and I-95.
Located on a peninsula separating the Halifax and Tomoka Rivers, bisected
by two creeks, Thompson and Strickland, with additional old mosquito
control canals and nameless waterways, this Florida State Park offers mile upon mile of scenic and secluded paddling. The road to the Park entrance is through a canopy of moss covered live oaks. This is part of "The Loop" a scenic 23 mile drive/run/bike route.

The Park has a boat ramp on the Tomoka River, a short paddle from the tip of the peninsula. Kayak rentals are available. I put in and headed south . The Tomoka is fairly wide, little current. Trees line the east bank, then both banks are dominated by marsh grass as seen here.

A few homes are visible at the start, then nothing until Thompson Creek, when more homes can be seen at a distance. With many canals cut through the marsh, the entrance to Thompson Creek can be hard to find. I found it, but then took a wrong turn and spent some time in the mosquito control canals. Time well spent, as I saw a bald eagle fly over head. A compass should be part of every paddlers gear. The marsh is excellent for viewing wading birds like egrets and herons.

Can you find the green heron in this picture ? I almost deleted it. The stripes on the breast make effective camouflage.

Thompson Creek meets Strickland Creek in a residential area. There is a city park with boat ramp and long fishing pier on the east side of Strickland Creek. May be a good place to take a break, if so inclined. I have yet to stop here, in four or five trips, preferring to stop on the bank a bit north for views like this. The area where I stopped for lunch was covered with shells, mostly oyster. I don't know if it is ancient sea floor or ancient civilization. The area was occupied when the Spanish first visited in 1605. This marker is near the tip of the peninsula.

Several sections of the Tomoka, and all of Thompson and Strickland Creeks, are manatee zones. I have seen them in the Tomoka, in the summer, never in the Creek. I did not expect to see any, after not seeing any a few weeks a ago in the Canaveral Seashore are, which is south of Ormond Beach. I did not see any. I have seen dolphins in the Tomoka, but none this trip. I have never seen alligators. They likely are hiding deep in the marsh grass.

I came out of Thompson and back to the Tomoka River. Instead of staying in the main channel, I went up a narrow shaded one. It dead ends, but the main channel is just across a narrow land bridge. I dragged the yak over, and was back in the main channel. I proceeded past the boat ramp, to the tip and around the peninsula in the Halifax River. The Halifax is part of the Intracostal Waterway, entering the Atlantic Ocean at Ponce Inlet.

I spent about 5 hours on the water. After putting the yak on the car, I walked a one mile interpretive nature trail, from the Visitor Center to this 40 foot tall sculpture, which I saw from the Halifax River

No comments: