Paddle Florida

PADDLE FLORIDA
Over 85 Florida Paddling Destinations

PaddleFlorida
Paddle Myakka River, kayak, canoe, FloridaPaddle Myakka River, kayak, canoe, Florida

You are here > Home > South Florida > Paddle Myakka River
Reported: Jan. 2013; latest update: March 2016

Myakka River... Paddling Where River and Prairie Meet the Sky

The Myakka River, a Florida "Wild and Scenic River," flows 68 miles from the Hardee-Manatee county line to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. 14 miles is located within Myakka River State Park and the best recreational paddling is here. Famous for the large number of alligators, birds also abound including the most roseate spoonbill we've ever seen. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 68 miles total, 14 miles within Myakka River State Park
Location: Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: Yes, near the mouth at Charlotte Harbor
Launch points: At Upper Lake Myakka near the concession stand, along the State Park road, Snook Haven, Deer Prairie Creek Preserve (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Myakka Outpost at the State Park, Snook Haven at Venice (links, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Sarasota, Ringling Museums

We paddled the Myakka River at Myakka River State Park from Lake Myakka (upper) downstream to Lower Lake Myakka, and upstream until stopped by vegetation. Flowing mostly through open prairie, the river has very little shade so the horizons are endless making "where river and prairie meet the sky" an apt description. Between the lakes, the river snakes through the park and around several islands where it's possible to stop to stretch or picnic though some areas may not be accessible at high water.

The river alternates from wide flats to narrow channels. At low water, it will be necessary to portage in some areas. A dam at Lake Myakka can be paddled over at high water, or carry your kayak or canoe over at low - though depending on the wind, dense vegetation at the dam can make this a difficult feat.

As a "wild and scenic river," river access is limited. The area south of the SR 72 bridge is a designated wilderness preserve, get a no-fee permit at the park entry station to explore this section. In addition to the launches at the park (along the park road, at the boat ramp, or at Myakka Outpost), public access is also available at Snook Haven and Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, south of the park.

Paddling at Myakka River
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Lake Myakka (Upper)
We launched from the boat ramp at the parking lot near the Visitor Center and paddled around the lake, then paddled up the Myakka River a short distance. Back on the lake we paddled to the dam - here we saw a significant difference between low water and high.
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
Boat ramp near Visitor Center Onto Lake Myakka    
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
Gators in the lake Gators on the shore   At the dam - impassable at low water (left); approachable at high water (right). At even higher water, it's possible to paddle over the dam.
Myakka River north of Lake Myakka
The river at this point is very narrow. About a half mile upstream we ran into dense vegetation and turned back (both at low and high water). Further upstream it would have widened but we didn't visit that area.
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
Where the river enters Upper Lake Myakka Along the Myakka River north of Lake Myakka Vegetation was too dense to continue
Park Road Launch to Lake Myakka Dam
We used the launch near the Park Road bridge and paddled upstream to the dam at Lake Myakka. At the Park Road bridge, people are often seen fishing and photographing the gators on the bank. This section flows through prairie with very little shade except for a few sections with trees along the banks. As all along this river, gators and birds are in abundance!
 
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
Park Road bridge Roseate spoonbilll near the ParK Road bridge      
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
At a picnic area and some shade   Approaching the dam at Lake Myakka
Launch to Lower Lake Myakka
We launched off the park road near the Park Road bridge, and paddled to Lower Lake Myakka. The area south of the SR72 bridge is the designated wilderness preserve so we got our passes at the ranger station at check-in. The first day we were too late, they often sell out quickly (only 30 are allowed per day) so we went back early on our second day and were successful!
Launch to SR72 Bridge
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
Launch near the Park Road bridge Channel from the launch to the river      
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
      Gator on the bank SR 72 bridge
SR72 Bridge to Lower Lake Myakka
The portion is in the wilderness preserve and a permit is needed. The top section has some tree cover, but then it opens to prairie with no shade to Lower Lake Myakka.
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
Under the bridge, entering wilderness preserve       Opening onto prairie
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
    Approaching Lower Lake Myakka Lower Lake Myakka, very windy this day Landing spot for stretching and snacking
Wildlife - Birds, Gators and Turtles
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
         
Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - kayak, canoe
         
Myakka River State Park
Myakka River State Park is one of Florida's oldest (developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934) and largest (57 square miles) state parks. The park has hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife observation. The park roads are also popular for bicycling. An observation tower and boardwalk offer different views. Fees apply.
Myakka River State ParkMyakka River State Park Myakka River State ParkMyakka River State Park Myakka River State ParkMyakka River State Park Myakka River State ParkMyakka River State Park Myakka River State ParkMyakka River State Park
Biking across the Park Road bridge over the Myakka River Visitor Center Tour boat on Upper Lake Myakka Kayak/canoe launch at Myakka Outpost Boardwalk to river
Snook Haven
Formerly a fish camp, Sarasota County bought the property in 2006. Parking, boat ramp, kayak/canoe launch, fishing, picnic, restrooms, gift shop, restaurant.
Paddle Myakka River - Snook Haven- kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Snook Haven - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Snook Haven- kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Snook Haven - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Snook Haven- kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Snook Haven - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Snook Haven- kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Snook Haven - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Snook Haven- kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Snook Haven - kayak, canoe
Kayak/canoe launch Boat ramp River views from Snook Haven
Deer Prairie Creek Preserve
Deer Prairie Creek Preserve covers 6,400 acres and protects 6 miles of riverfront. Parking, kayak/canoe launch, portable restrooms, picnic, hiking and equestrian trails.
Paddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoe Paddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoePaddle Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve - kayak, canoe
Kayak/canoe launch View from launch Picnic area A small dam creates a pond.

See more photos of Myakka River on our Facebook page

More information on paddling at Myakka River (opens in a new window):

- Florida State Parks - Myakka River State Park

Top of Page

Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Myakka River

Outfitters/Rentals

Myakka Outpost

Snook Haven


Support and Advocacy

Friends of Myakka River


Fruitville, Florida, weather forecast