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Paddle Arbuckle Creek, Highland County, kayak, canoe, FloridaPaddle Arbuckle Creek, Highland County, kayak, canoe, Florida

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Reported: Dec. 2011; latest update: Feb. 2017

Arbuckle Creek... Remote and Beautiful Paddling at a Bombing Range (really)

Arbuckle Creek flows for 25 miles from Lake Arbuckle to Lake Istokpoga (the 5th largest in Florida). The diverse habitat includes cypress swamp, grass prairie, ranchlands, and oak hammock. The upper creek runs along the border of Avon Park Bombing Range but not to worry, the range is far from the creek. This proximity helps keep the creek natural. The lower creek is less natural including a manmade channel. The water is drawn down on Lake Istokpoga in the spring, causing low water levels on the creek, August to March are the best times for paddling. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 3 miles (Lake Arbuckle to Arbuckle Road; 12 miles (Arbuckle Road to Arbuckle Creek Road); 11 miles (Arbuckle Creek Road to Lake Istokpoga)
Location: Highlands County (Avon Park/Sebring)
Difficulty: Moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: On the river: Arbuckle Road (US27 to CR64); Arbuckle Creek Road (US27 to SR17); US98 bridge. On Lake Arbuckle: Fee launch at Camp Arbuckle (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: See links, above right
Nearby points of interest: Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, Highlands Hammock State Park

The 3 miles from Arbuckle Road to Lake Arbuckle are the most scenic, we paddled this stretch. The water was high with a swift current so we tended to paddle close to the banks and cypress knees. Large cypress trees and forest line the entire way. This is a remote paddle, with just one house at the launch for the entire 3 mile trip to Lake Arbuckle.  Not many, but possibility of motorboats (we encountered one airboat on this trip).

Arriving at Lake Arbuckle on the right is a ramp that from the water appeared to be a public launch but in fact is part of the military base and not open to the public. On the left is Camp Arbuckle, a private facility with camping, fishing and a fee launch. On the northern shore of the lake is a Polk County campground with boat ramp, picnic, restrooms - contact Polk County Parks and Recreation for information and fees.

A portion of the bombing range is open for public recreation depending on military operations in progress. More about the Avon Park Bombing Range Outdoor Recreation Program.

Wildlife along the creek include deer, wild turkeys, wild hogs, black bear, alligators, bald eagle, and wading birds. Wear orange during the winter hunting season as the wildlife management area is popular with hunters. Fishing is abundant on the creek and lakes.

Paddling at Arbuckle Creek
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Arbuckle Creek
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Launch at Arbuckle Road North from the launch area Sign at Avon Park Bombing Range boundary On the creek On the creek
Lake Arbuckle
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CR64 bridge at Lake Arbuckle (to military base) Lake Arbuckle This ramp is part of the military base, not open to the public View at Lake Arbuckle Park (north end of the lake, near Frostproof)
Lake Istokpoga
Paddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, FloridaPaddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, Florida Paddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, FloridaPaddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, Florida Paddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, FloridaPaddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, Florida Paddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, FloridaPaddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, Florida Paddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, FloridaPaddle Arbuckle Creek - Lake Istokpoga - Kayak, Canoe, Florida
Launch area at Lake Istokpoga Park All new boardwalks Looking out over
the lake
Toward the boat ramp Lake Istokpoga Park

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Arbuckle Creek

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