Loxahatchee River - Paddling Florida's First Wild and Scenic River
The Loxahatchee River is the first designated National Wild and Scenic River in Florida (the other is the Wekiva River in Central Florida) and one of the most natural rides in Florida - unlike many other waterways, it has remained mostly unchanged. The 8.5 mile State Designated Paddling Trail runs from Palm Beach County's Riverbend Park to Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Martin County. While the trail can be paddled in a single downstream trip using a shuttle, we learned from the outfitters that most visitors paddle out and back from the one of the two parks. We paddled both, and created separate pages describing each one (see links below). (Detailed map and photos below.)
The full 8.5 mile ride can take 5-7 seven hours in low water due to many pullovers; the outfitters provide shuttles. The most scenic part of the paddling trail is the 4 miles through cypress between Riverbend Park and Trapper Nelson's Cabin. This portion of the river can be twisty and narrow. Past Trapper Nelson's Cabin, the river widens into a mangrove estuary and the tidal influence starts. At Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the river is wide and tidal.
Trapper Nelson's Cabin (about 4 miles from Riverbend Park) is a good stop-off point for picnicking and to visit the historical site. Known as the "Wild Man of the Loxahatchee," Nelson was a fur trader in the 1930's who went on to build a zoo and botanical garden. The State took over the site after his death in 1968 and incorporated it into Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Ranger-led tours are available year-round.
More information on paddling at Loxahatchee River (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Support and AdvocacyFriends of the Loxahatchee River