07:02:11, Florida – My first trip in July took me to the Econlockhatchee River in Florida. Econlockhatchee means “River of Mounds” and this river is lined with white sand banks, beautiful live oaks and tall palm trees.
I put in where the Econlockhatchee joins the St. Johns River near Puzzle Lake. The mouth of the Econlockhatchee here is bordered on both sides by large expanses of green grass prairie dotted with free range cattle under a great big sky for as far as you can see.
Before pushing up the Econlockhatchee I paddled past it to explore a flat sandy plain a couple of miles further down the St. Johns. As I walked the plain the weight of my steps forced air bubbles up through the soft wet sand. Occassionally I sank up to my knees. I encountered the trail of a big alligator that had recently slithered across.
Back on the Econlockhatchee the prairie soon gave way to patches of thick forest. The scenery got wilder and wilder as I paddled. I pushed up a side stream through the thick canopy that opened up to an interior pond and pasture. This looked to be a popular watering hole from the many cow trails that lead to it. For me it was great moment to take a relaxing dip in the cool shallow water safe from Alligators. Afterwards I walked the cow trails a bit. If you do this take plenty of bug spray.
The Econlockhatchee is a quiet and peaceful river except for the occasional interruption of an outrageously noisy air boat. If you haven’t heard one imagine the sound of an airplane engine strapped to the back of a tiny pole boat. These things only have one speed and that’s full throttle. If you hear one coming (and you will from a long long way off) then paddle to one side right away cause it’ll come screaming up your backside before you know it. Regardless, I wouldn’t let that keep you from exploring this beautiful Florida River and it’s surrounding prairie.
Put in: 28° 42.871’N, 81° 2.148’W