Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bulow Creek

I kayaked a place today, Sunday, May 15, 2011, that I had not paddled before.  Bulow Creek, between Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park and High Bridge Park.  I had paddled Bulow Creek twice before, once launching at High Bridge, the other time, putting in at Bulow Ruins.   Today, utilizing the car/bike shuttle technique, I paddled the 6 plus miles from the State Park to High Bridge.  And a little beyond, to Smith Landing.

Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park (BPRHSP) is in Flagler County, maybe a mile north of the Volusia County line, on Old Kings Road.  The one mile dirt road into the Park is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.  Tree lined, I saw deer the last time I was there, in June 2010.   After that paddle, I told myslef I had to do a car/bike shuttle in the fall.   Bulow Creek is not shaded.  Fall, and winter came and went.  Summer is here, in May.  But, today's forecast was highs in the mid 80's.  It was now or never- or October.   Dropped off the kayak, drove to High Bridge. Parked, got on the bike.

Not a bad ride.  This is part of the Ormond Loop.  A beautiful drive along Bulow Creek,  past coastal marshes, underneath a live oak canopy.  A favorite for bikers, motorcycles, and motorists.  And runners.  I saw this for the first time way back in 1994, when I ran the Paul DeBryun 30K Road Race.  Did that race at least one other time during my running days. About half the 6.2 mile ride was on the Loop, but the off Loop part on Old Dixie Highway and Old Kings Road wasn't too bad.

Here's the road into BPRHSP I was raving about.

The dirt is hard packed.  No problem for a skinny tire road bike.

A few of the ruins. I'll show more later.

Foundation of John Bulow's home.  Burned by the Seminoles in 1836.
I was on Bulow Creek at 11:15.

Blue heron. Not a typo. The blue will come out as it matures.  I did not see a lot of wildlife.  More blue herons, great blue, and green herons.  Four alligators.
 Very few homes the first several miles, and they are way back behind the salt marsh.

Great blue heron barely visible, flying away.
I have the world's worst sense of direction and wasn't entirely sure I was going the right way.  Was I going with the current, or was the wind pushing the water the other way?  I resolved to ask someone, but there was no one to ask.  I did see two people at the Cisco Ditch, a canal, but they left before I got near.  Seeing the Ditch, I knew I was headed the right direction.  Until I hit a dead end.  Had I gone the wrong way? From BPRHSP, it is 3 miles to start of Bulow Creek.  Based on time, I had gone about that far.  I turned around, got into a different channel. Also the wrong way, but at least I got a gator photo.
Good thing there were only 3 channels.  Third was the charm.
My sense of direction is poor, so is my grasp of technology.    But, last night, I got the camera's zoom function working.  So a closer pic of today's osprey compared to yesterday.

 Came to this bridge, and knew I was headed the right way.  Very low clearance, I had to duck.  So no boats bigger than jon boats can go up Bulow Creek

Road signs confirmed it.
 This home dates back to the 1890's, a community called Mound Grove.  Don't know for sure, but I think its on top of an Indian mound.

I don't remember this bridge. Had to be built since 2005, my last visit here.

A gate, a fence, and what appears to be a private home. I've searched to find info on it.  Nothing so far. I just wonder how many people you need to pay off to build a private bridge.  And I don't mean bricklayers and masons.
Bulow Creek ends at the Halifax River.

Highbridge Park


By modern standards, low bridge.  Built in 1955.  I paddled under it to Smith Creek.

I thought the area below may be a midden- Native American trash heap.  Later investigation has me believe its just spoil from dredging.
Smith Creek is very short.  Part of North Peninsula State Park.  I landed.
 I've strolled this trail before, not this time.
 The above photos show the changing Smith Creek.  It's been converted into the Intracoastal Waterway.
 Florida Greenways and Trails suggest Smith Creek as a landing site and not Highbridge Park. Bulow Creek Canoe Trail   I'll follow that advice next time.   Anything to avoid motorboats.   Although I did have to deal with them when I made the short paddle back to Highbridge.

  Found a dirt area away from the boat ramp and landed about 2.  Loaded the yak and drove back to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park.   From the picnic area, there are to ways to get to the main ruins. A dirt road, or a nature trail.  I took the nature trail.
Which ends at the largest sugar mill in the Florida Territory in 1836.  Florida did not achieve statehood until 1845.

The plantation and sugar mill as begun in 1819, when Florida as a Spanish possession. I'm a history buff, and a history major, and this stuff fascinates me.   Quite the industrial operation in the backwater that was Florida.  Heck, Florida was a backwater until WW II.

Of course, this was built with slave labor.  
A natural interlude in the ruins pics.

Back to the ruins.  What you see is coquina- the same material found in the Castillo San Marcos in St. Augustine.  Any wood parts of the mill burned in 1836 during the Second Seminole War.

The Park also has a nice exhibit full of historical artifacts.

Including a canoe, the long brown object, built by slaves. To escape?  Back to the present.  Subdivisions in the area have names like Halifax Plantation, Sugar Mill Plantation.  Aren't they insulting African Americans and the dwindling liberal white market?    Dave's Yak Tales.  Kayaking, biking, history, and social observation.


Anonymous said...

One of my favorite paddles . . . Love your photos. You might also enjoy Pellicer Creek. Put in at Faver-Dykes SP off US1 or at Bings Landing on A1A. For a shorter paddle, come up to our backyard at Moultrie Creek.

Dave said...

Thank you, M. Creek. I've paddled Pellicer 2x, but not since 2006. Both times from Faver Dykes. Did it once on a weekday, making a stealth visit to Princess Place Preserve which was not open 7 days a week back then. Found your site. Very interesting.