Shingle Creek... Paddling Gem Near Disney World
The launch at Steffee Landing (Shingle Creek Regional Park) along the busy Disney tourist corridor on US192 in Kissimmee (mile marker 15) belies the tranquil world of Shingle Creek and Shingle Creek Regional Park. The paddling trail is one of the prettiest we've seen - with alligators, turtles, myriad waterbirds and the beautiful cypress forest, this is a great option for taking a break from the theme parks and visiting the "real" Florida. Now a Florida Designated Paddling Trail, the state has recently (May 2015) added markers along the trail and is clearing some logs to better open up the creek to paddlers. (Detailed map and photos below.)
Shingle Creek is the major tributary of Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho), the northernmost headwaters of the Everglades. Beginning in south Orange County, the creek flows about 20 miles past the International Drive tourist area south to Kissimmee, and then to Lake Toho. The stream and surrounding area are protected wetlands due to their importance to Everglades restoration efforts.
The designated paddling trail runs one mile each way north and south of Steffee Landing, "do not enter" signs mark the trail ends; however, the State of Florida has marked out the trail beyond the southern point toward Lake Toho - we paddled as far as the landing at Pleasant Hill Road and there are plans to eventually run a shuttle to this point. The only negative was occasional noise of private plane and small jet air traffic from nearby Kissimmee airport.
Heading north, the creek is wider and popular for fishing along the banks, with the marked trail terminating at about one mile just past Babb Park; we could see condos/apartments through the trees.
Heading south, the beautiful cypress swamp is a significant feature of the creek, more remote with narrow channels lined by palmetto palm and cypress and some wide areas. The twists and turns plus rapids in the newly marked section beyond the designated trail are for more experienced paddlers. We were thankful for the directional markers as it would be easy to get lost in the maze. Past the rapids is a section with ancient dunes and high banks, then the creek widens as it continues to Lake Toho with more homes along the banks. The landing at Pleasant Hill Road is a good spot to launch and paddle upstream to the dunes or downstream to Lake Toho. A drainage canal just north of Old Tampa Highway can also be paddled.
The 456-acre Shingle Creek Regional Park has a boat launch (no motor boats are allowed!), outfitter, fishing dock, hiking trails, picnicking, play area, and restrooms. Several old homes from the historic Shingle Creek community are within the park with others slated for restoration. The creek is named after the cypress trees that lined the bank in the late 19th century, which were used to make wood shingles. Upgrades made to the park at Stefee Landing (2014) include an outfitter, boardwalk and bridge.
The Shingle Creek Regional Trail is also being expanded; the trail (@Oct. 2016) goes from Hoagland Blvd., through the park, under US192, past the Osceola County Historical Center, over the trail bridge at Shingle Creek, to Pioneer Village. Future construction will run from downtown Kissimmee to the Orange County line. The outfitter also offer bike rentals.
Babb Park is the northern end of Shingle Creek Regional Park, and site of the old Babb family residence and orange groves. Picnic tables, and a hiking and biking trail are available (the bike trail has been upgraded as part of the Shingle Creek Regional Trail project). A new Pioneer Village opened in November 2014.
Also visit us here: Bicycling in Osceola County
More information on paddling at Shingle Creek (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
The Paddling Center at