Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh Blackwater keep on rollin'

When I got a kayak for my birthday last year, I asked author Bill Belleville to suggest good spots to explore. He suggested Blackwater Creek in the Seminole State Forest and several months later I finally got a chance to visit. The Creek and the State Forest are located within the Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve, 19,000 acres of "sovereign submerged lands." Blackwater Creek is fed by more than a dozen known springs through the forest into the Wekiva River. The weekend I kayaked the creek, a Bio-Blitz was cataloging different species of flora and fauna within the basin and Bill Bellevile was part of a team that discovered two new previously unknown springs. With a map showing rough location of some of the named springs in the area, I was hoping to be able to see a few of Central Florida's smaller springs.

To enter the Forest, one needs a permit from Division of Forestry because the road is gated and one must know the combination to open the lock to enter. About 45 minutes after leaving my house, I was at the gate, ready to enter another world. We saw a couple hikers on the dusty dirt roads in the forest as we drove to the creek, but it was remarkably free of people. The put-in point for the creek is just past a bridge and we hit the water and headed down stream in the direction of the Wekiva and Sulphur Run, an offshoot where it appeared many of the springs were located. We traveled as far as we could before downed trees forced us to return. I found out later that the two newly-discovered springs, named Sirena I and Sirena II, (after the character in Margaret Tolbert's performance art pieces), were near Sulphur Run. They were only discovered because the swamps surrounding them were extremely dry due to the on-going drought.

We headed upstream in the other direction to see if we could find any of the other springs on my map. Going past the put-in point we saw a couple people with canoes, but never actually saw anyone else on the water during our entire trip. In fact, if it weren't for the occasional passing airplane we heard no manmade sounds at all. Eventually we ran at out of creek again, as blocked trees again forced us to head back. By car, however, we did find two of the springs on our map. Located near a campsite, Moccasin Spring was a mysterious, aqua-colored pool. We kayaked right by the spot where the spring run enters the creek and didn't even know it. The small basin appeared to be entirely covered with aquatic growth and there were several downed trees over the spring allowing for closer inspection.

After shooting photos, we headed back in the other direction and found Sharks Tooth Spring, again near a campsite. Following a trail next to a tiny creek, we discovered the spring emerging from the side of a rock formation.  The water in the run from the creek was no more than 8 or 10 inches deep and it did in fact look lake a great spot for shark tooth hunting, something I used to love to do when I was a kid.

Blackwater Creek is one of those all-too-rare places in Florida that are pristine and unspoiled. I thought about keeping it to myself but figured anyone who reads this blog and goes to the trouble to get a permit from the Division of Forestry would appreciate it as much as I did. I said to my kayaking buddy that Blackwater Creek might just be my new favorite place in Florida. I can give it no higher praise.

Blackwater Creek
The stump of an epic Cypress tree, logged out eons ago, provides the base for new tree.


  1. So peaceful and lovely...thanks for sharing!

  2. I was born in Orlando & grew up in Winter Haven & have lived in Manhattan for 30 yrs now. I would so love to visit some of the sites you so generously share here. Thank you.

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  4. Does anyone have Lat/Long coordinates on Sirena 1 & 2 and/or Uncle Baird Spring? They're both recent additions so aren't on the FDEP's published master spring list shapefile data (dated 2011) I've visited almost every known spring in Seminole State Forest but these are both new to me.

  5. I do. But they are basically little trickles in a mucky swamp.