Fisheating Creek... Paddling near Lake Okeechobee
The beauty of Fisheating Creek near Palmdale absolutely blew us away, a magical place! Flowing through cypress swamp, the creek's name should be Cypress Majesty or something similar. The creek, a major water source of Lake Okeechobee and its only free-flowing tributary, was in private hands and thus undeveloped for many years and is now managed by the State of Florida. The 52-mile stream flows through cypress swamps, lakes, and marsh and is mostly contained within the 18,000 acre Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) - an environmentally critical area with 27 rare species living in the watershed. (Detailed map and photos below.)
Because the only put-ins upstream are on private property, it's necessary to use the state-sanctioned concessionaire at Palmdale to reach upper Fisheating Creek. We took the shuttle to Burnt Bridge for an 8-mile paddle downstream. The ride is pristine - a real wilderness experience - and alternates between wide lakes, narrow streams, and through cypress swamp, with many spots to pull off for picnicking. We were thankful for the directional markers as the creek branched out in different directions at several points. On this segment, motor traffic was limited, some areas were quite shallow.
Wildlife along the creek include deer, turtles, wild hogs, black bears, eagles, wading birds, and some of the biggest alligators we've seen. Florida panther have also been spotted. The Fisheating Creek Campground at Palmdale has camping, RV hook-ups, picnicking, bathrooms and showers as well as a camp store. There is an approved swimming lake at the campground - swimming in the creek is not recommended due to many alligators. Within the wildlife preserve are camping, fishing, birding, hiking, and picnicking. Primitive campsites are located along the creek for overnight trips.
More information on paddling at Fisheating Creek (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe