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Reported: Jan. 2012; updated Jan. 2017

Ocklawaha River... Paddling South to North at Ocala National Forest

Ocklawaha River flows 74 miles from Lake Griffin in Lake County to the St. John's River, and is one of the few rivers in the U.S. flowing south to north. The Ocklawaha is one of the most natural and beautiful waterways in Florida, its center section forming the western and northern boundaries of the Ocala National ForestWildlife abounds. The Silver River flows into the Ocklawaha near Ray Wayside Park; the influx of water from the first-magnitude Silver Spring changes the flow from slow to fast-flowing river. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 10 miles from SR 40 to Gore's Landing; 9 miles Gores's Landing to Lake Ocklawaha; 8 miles Kirkpatrick Dam to Hwy19; 74 in total
Location: Marion and Putnam Counties (Ocala)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Upper: Ray Wayside Park (SR 40 bridge), Gore's Landing, SR 316 bridge (Lake Ocklawaha). Lower: Kirkpatrick Dam, SR19 bridge (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost (Fort McCoy) (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Ocala, Silver Springs, Kirkpatrick Dam/Rodman Reservoir

This is a long river. Paddlers have several options; out and back from launch, from point to point using the outfitter's shuttle service, or longer trips with overnight camping (contact outfitter for more information). The most popular paddling areas are:

  1. The upper river near Ocala, from Ray Wayside Park at SR 40 to Gore's Landing (about 10 miles). This will include a short distance on the Silver River.
  2. From Gore's Landing to to the CR 316 bridge, or just beyond to the outfitter's landing (about 9 miles). Along the way, there are several side creeks to explore.
  3. The lower river (downstream from Rodman Reservoir) from the Kirkpatrick Dam to the SR 19 boat ramp (8 miles).

Less paddled are:

  • Moss Bluff to Ray Wayside Park (14 miles) - a portion follows the old canal system - watch for motor boats.
  • CR 316 bridge to Kirkpatrick Dam - this takes you through Lake Ocklawaha and Rodman Reservoir - wide, popular for fishing, many powerboats.
  •  From the SR 19 bridge to the St. John's River (5 miles) - winding with many side streams, a good GPS and map are recommended; on the St. John's, it's then about a mile north to Welaka.

Lake Ocklawaha was formed by Rodman Dam (now renamed the Kirkpatrick Dam). At one time the Ocklawaha was slated to be part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal and was channelized and developed, the dam was part of that project. Construction was halted in 1971 due to the efforts of environmentalist Marjorie Harris Carr and the Florida Defenders of the Environment (FDE). Restoration efforts have worked to restore the original river channel; proposals to dismantle the dam are debated by those who enjoy the fiishing and recreational opportunities on Rodman Reservoir and Lake Ocklawaha.

Paddling at Ocklawaha River-Upper
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Paddling from Ray Landing Park to Gore's Landing
(2008 trip)
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Ray Park Landing On the Ocklawaha Gore's Landing
Gore's Landing (2017 view)
Paddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, CanoePaddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, CanoePaddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, CanoePaddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, CanoePaddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, CanoePaddle Ocklawaha River - Kayak, Canoe
Flora and Fauna
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Ocklawaha River-Lower
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Launches at Kirkpatrick Dam and SR19 Bridge
8 miles from Kirkpatrick (Rodman) Dam to SR19 boat ramp (2014 view)
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Rodman recreation area Kayak launch area Toward dam/fishing pier/canal Kirkpatrick
(Rodman) Dam
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  Boat ramp at SR19 bridge  

Watch a video of paddling along the Ocklawaha on our Facebook page

See also: Paddling on the Silver River

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

- Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost and Resort - Map
- USDA Forest Service - Canoeing in Ocala National Forest
- USDA Forest Service (UF Archives) - Canoeing the Ocala National Forest

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