South Florida Lifestyle

August 14, 2013

An Afternoon Canoeing at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Live like a tourist; do what the locals do. Seemingly dichotomous in nature, it is this very statement that when on vacation most people try and seek out where the locals eat, drink, and play, so as to not fall into “tourist traps”. On the other hand, working very hard, day in and day out; “living like a tourist” definitely has a nice ring to it; a statement I aspire to live by.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Instead of doing the beach thing again on Sunday we decided we needed a bit more activity than just sitting for hours on end on the beach so we headed north to Jonathan Dickinson State Park to go canoeing. Still outside, still getting some sun, and getting some much needed exercise.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Located in Hobe Sound, (Tequesta/Jupiter area) Jonathan Dickinson State Park is abundant in natural habitats, pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangroves, and river swamps. The Loxahatchee River runs through the park and is famous throughout the state for canoeing and kayaking. The river is lush with canopies of cypress trees, and mangrove-lined estuaries, carnivores and herbivores alike live along the Loxahatchee shores. In 1985, the Loxahatchee became Florida’s first federally designated “Wild & Scenic River.”

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

The park concession offers rental canoes ($16/2 hours, $5 for each additional hour), kayaks, and motorboats. We opted for the double canoe and were probably on the river for three hours, maybe it was two. I really don’t remember. You lose track of time out there. Yes it was hot. August on The Loxahatchee River at 2:00 in the afternoon not a whole lot of cooling breezes were blowing. But as we encountered and witnessed some of the most amazing sights and life forms, just going about their day along the estuary, now in hindsight, the heat really didn’t seem to matter.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

This picture of an Osprey nest doesn’t do it justice. It was mammoth in size, awesome in appearance and rather impressively intimidating; think Pterodactyl. I really couldn’t get thoughts of flying pterodactyl dinosaurs out of my head.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Stalagmite-looking tree trunks, and bleak and barren trees played into that ominous prehistoric feel.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Still and quiet you can find your center here on The Loxahatchee River. The water, completely motionless at times not ever a ripple tickled the river.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

But it was the joy and natural magnificence of a manatee sighting that made our day. A family of three was out and about on this lazy Sunday, just quietly doing their thing, swimming and eating. Below is the father, we got as close as possible not wanting to startle the family. Look carefully at the photo, I placed arrows on the manatee to point out the scars. This manatee is one of many who encountered a violent collision with a propeller-driven boat. It was shocking, and heartbreaking to actually see the maiming and disfiguring that is happening to these gentle and curious mammals.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

The day on the river was quiet, beautifully so; and at times our thoughts were interrupted by the sound of motorboats. I’m really not a nature person, i.e., hiking, camping, climbing mountains, etc., but I do believe everyone and everything has its place; and what works for some might not for others. While I have nothing against boats; and quite frankly the bigger and faster the better, but they have their place and after seeing the heart wrenching scars on the father manatee, I really question the use of motorboats on The Loxahatchee in Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Come January when it gets cooler I’ll go back for and afternoon of biking and horseback riding, until then I’ll stick to hanging out in and around the water. Click here to view more photos of our day at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park 16450 SE Federal Hwy  Hobe Sound, FL 33455 (772) 546-2771

There are entrance fees to the park: $6.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle. $4.00 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle. $2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers.

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