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Reported: March 2012; latest update: Oct. 2012

Blackwater Creek and Lake Norris... Paddling in Cypress World

Blackwater Creek flows from Lake Norris in Lake County, Florida, to the Wekiva River. The creek is about 20 miles, but here we focus on the creek run from the Lake Norris Conservation Area to Lake Norris. We kayaked this twice - once when the water was low, once with high water, and the difference was substantial. (Detailed map and photos below.)



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Distance: 3/4 mile on Blackwater Creek; lake is about 8 miles around. Note: The section between Seminole State Forest and Lake Norris Conservation area is impassable.
Location: Lake County (Paisley)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (watch water level)
Tidal: No
Launch points: Lake Norris Conservation Area (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: See tour link, above right
Nearby points of interest: Seminole State Forest, Mt. Dora, Deland

Trip Report: On our first trip (low water) we never reached Lake Norris due to many obstacles on the run and we decided not to proceed. The second trip (high water) was more satisfactory and we completed the run to Lake Norris. From the launch, we then kayaked upstream from the sign that declares "creek not passable" and stopped both times at the logs blocking the creek as we did not care to portage over these obstacles and could only imagine what lay beyond (as in the "not passable" part of the sign). The creek opens up again in Seminole State Forest as it approaches the Wekiva River, portions are accessible by permit only - see our trip report on Blackwater Creek-Seminole State Forest.

The water on Blackwater Creek run is the blackest we've seen (the photos do not capture the color at all). The ride was almost mystical, the creek flowing through a dark swamp that exudes old age. We wound around the many twists and turns and navigated the obstructions in the water. Orange blazes on trees mark the trail - much appreciated at some junctures where it was not clear what was the main channel.

Lake Norris is surrounded by dwarf cypress, and is known for a large number of osprey nests although we didn't see any activity the day we paddled. Paddling through the cypress forest which rings Lake Norris was scenic as well as providing a buffer again the wind, on the lake itself was a good workout on a breezy day. We saw one pontoon boat out the day we paddled. There's a boy scout camp on the north end of the lake, there can be a lot of canoes and kayaks in use when camp is in session. We paddled up the western shore and across the lake back to Blackwater Creek. The lake is about 8 miles around, covering 1,100 acres.

Wildlife include alligators, turtles, deer, and raccoons; birds include osprey, ibis, egrets, anhinga, hawks, and more. The water is too dark to see any fish though we saw some splashing, but as we were leaving a group of fisherman were putting in - they were locals and seemed to know where they were going!

Paddling on Lake Norris and Blackwater Creek
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Blackwater Creek - Paddle Run to Lake Norris
The run is about 3/4 miles from the launch off Lake Norris Road in the Lake Norris Conservation Area to Lake Norris. Twisting and turning through the cypress swamp, with obstacles hidden by the dark water, the ride can be a challenge.
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Entrance to Lake Norris Conservation Area. Parking and information to the left, launch to the right Launch - low water on the left, high water
on the right. Note the position of the pole
vs. the water line.
Directional sign, low water on the left and high on the right. Notice the difference in length of pole in and out of the water. The water was 2-3 feet higher.
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Paddling on Blackwater Creek Orange slash marking the waterway Exiting out onto Lake Norris
Paddling on Lake Norris
Paddling through the cypress forest shielded us somewhat from the wind, it was much more windy on the open lake. Although the lake is known for its osprey nests, all we saw were some vultures.
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On Lake Norris There are a few homes on the eastern shore We didn't see any osprey, but here's a vulture Entering back onto Blackwater Creek

More information: (opens in a new window):

- St. John's River Water Management District - Lake Norris Conservation Area (pdf)

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