Troop 7 The Loxahatchee River
July of 99


The River

The only river in Florida designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, the coffee-colored Loxahatchee meanders through subtropical river swamp, featuring lush ferns and mighty cypress trees. The Seminole Indians named the river "Loxahatchee," which means river of turtles.

Located just east of Lake Okeechobee, and flowing north into Johnathan Dickinson State Park, this river meanders from the swamp to the sea, offering a variety of ecosystems; from muddy bogs and swaying palms to pine and palmetto forests, even mangroves, all in a leisurely six hour canoe ride.

Bald cypress, pond apple, orchid, and fern are found along the banks. You might also glimpse otter, raccoon, alligator or bobcat. Heron and osprey fly overhead, and there are almost always turtles basking in the sun.

Along the trail in the state park is Trapper Nelson's cabin, an interpretive site where you can learn about this interesting character. This site also marks the last navigable upstream portion of the river. Beyond this point, only small canoes and kayaks can negotiate the twisting turns, small width and depth and the consistent presence of fallen trees.



The Canoeing

We began our journey just west of state road 760 and the turnpike, launching six canoes with 8 scouts, 5 adults and one cub scout. Shortly after entering the water, we canoed over a small 8 inch dam, or spillway, which was bit of a thrill. It was certainly a challenge to steer the canoes around the twisting turning bends in the river with a two or three knot current.

As we approached the second spillway (an 18 inch drop), most of the scouts observed a small alligator lurking near the bank. Everyone went over the spillway successfully and we stopped to rest here for a few moments. This spot is a favorite swimming hole for campers and visitors to the state park and the scouts enjoyed a cool and refreshing dip before continuing on to Trapper Nelson's camp, where we had lunch.

After Trapper Nelson's place, the last three miles of the trip were very different. The swamp quickly turned to mangroves and the river became very wide without sharp turns and swift currents. There was also boat traffic in this area and we canoed into the wind during a portion of this leg of the trip.

After arriving at the canoe dock and ramp in the park, we loaded our gear and canoes and returned to our camp in the youth camping area, site number 3.



The Beach

To top off this wonderful day on the river, we all went a couple of miles north to Hobe Sound Beach where the scouts enjoyed body surfing and playing in the waves in shallow water. This capped off a big day and underscored the range of adventures one can have in this special part of Florida.

Later that night after dinner, most of the scouts elected to retire to their tents early, rather than light a campfire and roast marshmallows. By 9pm, everyone was in their tent and receiving a well deserved rest.



The Mountain

After striking camp and going about our clean-up rituals, the Troop piled into the four cars and headed for the exit. The previous night we had noticed a sign "Hobe Mountain," so we decided to visit Hobe Mountain out of curiosity. It's not often that one finds a mountain in Florida.

We arrived at a footpath claiming the route ahead would take "a leisurely 20 minutes." On the contrary, it took some (over-eager) scouts only about a minute to make it to the observation tower at the top of the path. Once at the top the Senior Patrol Leader took everyone's photograph and made a panoramic view as well. Click here to see that panorama. After everyone tired of the blazing sun and decided they had seen all they could see from the tower, we headed back to the cars.



The Road

Again we set out for the exit. After Scoutmaster Fred Kimball notified the state park offices we were leaving we hit the open road. The eighty miles went by fairly smoothly, stopping only once at a McDonalds to calm the raging stomachs of some of our scouts (and adults for that matter).

When we finally got back to the scouthouse everyone washed out the camping gear and packed it away for the next campout. The Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader praised all for their help and good behavior and the scouts were dismissed after giving the troop yell.

All's well that ends well...



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