Posts Tagged ‘Alafia River’

Taking advantage of a work-related trip to St. Petersburg, I stopped in Venrico on my return to  paddle a stretch of the Alafia River—from Alderman Ford Park to the Alafia River Canoe Rentals—about a 10 mile paddle.  Carter et al rated the scenery on this section of the Alafia a mere “B,” and Ohr and Carmicheal emphasized the phosphate pollution of the late 1900s, so I wasn’t expecting much.  However, this river had me at the first twist and turn.

The Twisting, Winding Alafia River

The water level of the Alafia can range greatly.  Too low, and a kayaker would not be able to paddle through.  Too high, and the water would be into the trees, and one better have the skills to maneuver!  On this day, the water level was on the low side, but high enough for me (and others) to get through. 

As the waters of the Alafia twist and wind, they pass over limestone shoals, creating short white water rapids that hurried me along.  I was glad to be traveling down river and not up!  I found the downed trees and logs in the water a bit challenging as I was forced to choose between either scooting under a fallen tree or paddling over a fallen log, and risk getting stuck.  (I suspect this may be why this river received a B rating, but I found it added to the charm and adventure of the river.)  It occurred to me more than once that a companion would have been nice, if only to survey my hair for bugs and snakes after ducking under a fallen tree.

The Alafia is narrow compared to rivers such as the Santa Fe and Suwannee.  Cypress knees, like miniature fortresses, guard its banks, while giant roots cling to the sides.  Oak, cypress, and cabbage palms decorate the banks and often canopy the river.  With the water level quite low, the banks ranged from just a few feet to five and even ten feet high at times.  The woods were alive with sounds, although I saw only a few birds. 

As I paddled along this Sunday afternoon, vivid reflections in the river tricked me to believing that I was paddling into the river rather than on the river.  I wondered why anyone would every choose Disney over this.  The water cleared at times, and I could see the weeds waving below me.  I felt as if I could have kayaked this river forever.

(Outfitter: Alafia River Canoe Rentals. 4419 River Drive, Valrico, FL 33594. (813) 689-8645)

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