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Peace River Kayak Camping - Fort Meade to Zolfo Springs

For those who have to travel a long distance, or who would just like to meetup for good times around a campfire, we will be camping Friday evening at Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area at the same place we launch the next morning. We will meet at the launch @9am Saturday to and begin to shuttle cars.

This is the upper section of the Peace River, and is the official start of the river as a "Florida Canoe Trail". This section is 22 miles. This will be an overnight Kayak camping trip and we will be making camp alongside the river somewhere just downstream of "B" (see map below)

We will meet at the Fort Meade boat launch, offload Kayaks and gear, and then shuttle cars to Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs. Take FL-17N to US-98E (right) Look for Recreation Area sign on right and follow road to parking and launch. Warning: GPS may not take you there.

If you do not wish to camp, please let me know.  We may coordinate a separate shuttle to the takeout at 664A Bridge East of Bowling Green ("B" on the map below). Map coordinates [masked],[masked]

The upper Peace flows out of Lake Hancock in central Polk County before becoming kayak passable above Fort Meade, the official start of the river as a Florida Canoe Trail. Here the river is around 25 feet wide and meanders south. Many access points allow for trips of varied distances. From Fort Meade, the river enters Hardee County and reaches Paynes Creek State Historic Site after 12 miles. Little Charlie Creek enters the river 4 miles farther, just below the CR 664A bridge. Gentle riffles sliding over a rock bottom occasionally speed up the moderate current. Below Wauchula, the Fazzini Wilderness Environmental Education Center occupies part of the east bank.

The Peace River can be paddled for almost 62 miles from Fort Meade to Arcadia. Below Arcadia the Peace becomes wide and is frequented by motorboats and personal watercraft, losing its appeal to paddlers.Narrow, deep channels with high banks alternate with broad sections andquiet pools as the river passes through dense woodlands. Sand bluffs give way to shoreline flats, thickly carpeted with grasses and enclosed by the surrounding woods, making ideal campsites. The nearby forest abounds with deer and other wildlife, and the observant paddler will see numerous bird species, including herons, egrets, and kingfishers.

The Green Swamp, northeast of Tampa, is the headwaters for four of the finest rivers in the state: the Ocklawaha, Withlacoochee, Hillsborough, and Peace. The Peace River flows for approximately 133 miles from Lake Hancock near Bartow in Polk County to Charlotte Harbor near Punta Gorda. The river basin encompasses 2,400 square miles of primarily agricultural and ranch land, and numerous creeks and streams empty into the river along its entire length. As might be expected, almost 70 percent of the annual flow in the river (on average) occurs from June through October, after the onset of the wet summer weather. Despite the high nutrient levels caused by the discharge from phosphate mines and agriculture, the river retains a fair water quality and indeed supports a fine population of fish. The Peace River is steeped in a rich natural and cultural history. In 1842, by virtue of an agreement between General Worth and the infamous Native American chief Billy Bowlegs, the Peace was established as the boundary between Native territory to the east and land for the white man to the west. During the Seminole Wars, numerous battles occurred along the banks of the Peace. At the confluence of the Peace and Payne Creek, south of Bowling Green, the Seminoles attacked a trading post at the start of the Third Seminole War, and one of the last battles of that war was fought near Fort Meade. 

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  • Ed H.

    I wanted to thank Jeff for a great trip, I had a great time even with the over load camping gear. Thanks to Sam for all the help saturday getting threw the bad areas. I meet a lot of great people and I cant wait till we can go on a nother over night trip. Thanks everyone.

    1 · January 20, 2014

  • Jeff R.

    I couldn't sum it all up much better than by reading the comments below, and looking at all the fantastic photos posted! What a great group of people to have on a trip that proved to be a challenging trip in so many ways. We all survived and with smiles on our faces and proud stories to tell due to the total team effort all around. Just got my three cortisone shots in my wrists, and left elbow...Doc says I need to take 4 weeks off from kayaking now. Far too much blue plastic left on rocks. Think I'll try to repair the scratches during my downtime. I promise to plan for higher water levels next time!!

    1 · January 20, 2014

    • Jim S.

      I left so much gel coat on those rocks it's gonna take 2 miles per hour off my speed. Now I can go faster in reverse than any of you LOL

      2 · January 20, 2014

  • Sheila B

    That was a frozen adventure! Us Slackers have a few nuts and bolts loose to say we voluntarily camped in below freezing temps! Thanks, Jeff, for an unforgettable trip :)

    1 · January 20, 2014

    • Sheila B

      Karen - It was Amy that wrote our names. She's the creative one.

      1 · January 20, 2014

    • Karen D.

      O well looked good- we shacked up w the BSA again- still colder than a titches wit!

      January 20, 2014

  • amy

    Just when I thought the last trip was the "bomb diggity" we do another one that "literally" takes the icing. What a wonderful, challenging, rewarding adventure with a fantastic group of individuals. A special thank you to everyone for such great TEAM work...and for those on FB, there is an "I" in team. LOL. Everyone really pulls together and that is what makes this such an outstanding group to be a part of.

    3 · January 19, 2014

    • Karen D.

      Thank u Amy 4 the snuggli-survived w/it!

      1 · January 20, 2014

    • amy

      I am so glad I had it for you to use and glad to hear it worked out for you. See you on our next adventure.

      1 · January 20, 2014

  • Lynn H.

    Fabulous trip! Thank you so much to those of you who assisted me when I flipped...especially the ones who saved dinner! Thank you to Annie, Jim and Howard for escorting me to the take out so I could get home quickly. My mom is fine and home...a slight concussion, no broken bones. If I have to take an unplanned swim, wake up to the frozen tundra and get support and help...this is the group to be with. You are all the best! Kudos to Jeff! See ya the next trip!

    5 · January 19, 2014

    • Kim M.

      Anytime Lynn and I'm glad to hear your Mom's okay.

      January 20, 2014

    • Jeff R.

      Lynn, I'm so glad to hear your Mom is going to be OK. Thanks for everything you do. Also thanks to Annie, Jim & Howard for setting a blistering pace to escort Lynn back ASAP

      January 20, 2014

  • Diane B

    We survived to tell the tale of the sub-freezing "Florida" camping adventure of a lifetime!! Thank you Jeff for organizing this memorable experience. You are the hardest working group of "Slackers" I have had the pleasure to know. Loved it Loved it Loved it!! (especially to get home and get warm again) :-) Absolutely Beautiful!!!

    1 · January 20, 2014

  • Karen D.

    Magical trip w Bill- lots of wildlife plus plenty of challenges! Had to depart Sunday but loved it!

    January 20, 2014

  • Jim S.

    Update on the missing kayakers. Just before I left the Wildlife Officer returned and said he found them. I cautiously asked if they were alright since they had been missing for two days, he laughed and said"yea they're OK, just drunk"

    2 · January 20, 2014

  • SunAnnie

    What an adventure! The group could not had been better if they were hand-picked! Frozen fun was had by all! We took portaging to a new level! Lets do it again soon! Special Thanks to Lynn for Friday's dinner!

    2 · January 19, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Freezing cold night but it pays off being with Y'all!!

    2 · January 19, 2014

  • Eric A.

    What a great trip with a bunch of great people. Jeff, thanks for organizing the trip and thanks for inventing the new sport of kayakcross the water version of cyclocross

    2 · January 19, 2014

  • Jim S.

    Jeff doesn't plan paddles, he sets up expeditions with all the fun and dangers of a great adventure!!
    Thank you sir for an excellent and exhausting weekend, now to start the gel coat work :)

    3 · January 19, 2014

  • Kristina

    Awesome adventure.

    January 19, 2014

  • Mark

    I'm wussing out, company flying in tomorrow at noon, would have only made a day trip out of it today, in all honesty, I'm calling it a lazy day today.
    Oh, the heater has been working OT all night, I couldn't possibly dessert it after all of it's hard work...

    January 18, 2014

  • Ronda G

    Not going to make it after all. My arthritic knee has me down! I will see you on this river in March! :((

    January 18, 2014

  • Kristina

    Jeff - Left you voice mail message. I wont be there until Saturday morning with plans to camp Saturday night. So see you all at the launch in the morning.

    January 17, 2014

  • Ronda G

    I won't make it there until Saturday morning. :(((

    January 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Ugh, not sure if I'm gonna make it after all. I have quite a sore throat, runny nose and mad sneezing. I'm so upset, I'm on vacation, sick and have wanted to do this paddle for sooooooo long. I'll keep ya'll posted on how I feel.

    January 16, 2014

    • Craig G.

      Two bottles of V-8 in one day, better bring several GO GIRLS.

      January 17, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      sorry, Im feeling only slightly better. Nona you know Ive been dying to do this paddle 4ever and this stinks but I seriously just want to feel better and not ruin the remainder of my trip.

      January 17, 2014

  • Dee

    Another wimp here, I won't be camping either night but plan to join you on Sunday morning at Payne's!

    January 17, 2014

    • Dee

      You can call me whatever you like. I just may not respond. :)

      January 17, 2014

    • Rob

      See you Sunday. You'll be missed.

      1 · January 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Go ahead..call me a wimpy Floridian. I wanted to do this big time for the fossilling but my tender hands will freeze. I will look forwards to doing this when it gets warmer so that I can enjoy this to the fullest!

    January 17, 2014

  • Nona

    Just got the opportunity to attend a painting workshop with nationally known painter. I'm so psyched! Stay warm Slackers!!

    2 · January 17, 2014

  • Julie

    Frozen chicken....

    January 17, 2014

  • Ed H.

    Good evening everyone, Jeff I will be camping with you guys Friday night I should get ther around 6:30. I prepared on cooking my on food I did not keep up with the pot luck. I also plan on camping primitive along the river.

    2 · January 16, 2014

    • amy

      See you tomorrow night, neighbor! :-) Glad you are joining us.

      January 16, 2014

  • Lynn H.

    Now that Jeff has put the pressure on me for dinner tomorrow night! Y'all are guinea pigs...I've never made this particular recipe before, so bring enough to eat just in case!

    1 · January 16, 2014

    • Jim S.

      Lynn, everything that's come out of that dutch oven so far has become legend :)

      1 · January 16, 2014

    • amy

      Perhaps some Hawaiian King Rolls?

      1 · January 16, 2014

  • Karen D.

    This camping is backpack style on river?

    January 14, 2014

    • Jim S.

      Hey Dee you bringing your new boat?

      January 16, 2014

    • Dee

      Jury is still out. I put sealant on the bulkheads Tues and its not cured yet. I'm such a cold wimp I may just join you on Sunday morning instead of braving the cold like you die-hards!

      1 · January 16, 2014

  • Lynn H.

    I have a new dutch oven recipe I want to try and will make it Friday night...if anyone wants to be a test subject maybe we can do a semi-potluck. It's Chicken Quesadilla Pie.

    3 · January 12, 2014

    • amy

      What should I bring?

      January 16, 2014

    • Lynn H.

      Anything Amy!

      January 16, 2014

  • Julie A.

    Too cold to hunt in water. Will catch the Spring trips.

    1 · January 16, 2014

  • Karen D.

    Made a reservation at Paynes 4 Sat nite at payne youth site- accessible by kayak n car- yay!

    January 16, 2014

  • Lynn H.

    I bought the Mega Hot Hands at Walgreens. I put one between my shirt/sweatshirt at night...it really does help with keeping you warm.

    January 16, 2014

  • Sam G.

    It's going to be cold. Make sure you bring warm clothing and bedding. Bring a water proof - dry bag for clothes so that if you flip your kayak, you will have dry clothes to change into.

    2 · January 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is there a way that we can have my car at the Saturday night primative camping spot in advance? My sneezing from last weekend had turned into a cold and I'm not sure that I'd be up for the camping part, but I soooo want to do the paddle on Saturday. I've been wanting to do this fossil hunting on this river for so long.

    1 · January 14, 2014

    • Nona

      It may not be as cold as we think. I'm gonna watch the weather

      1 · January 15, 2014

    • Jim S.

      Count on COLD!! http://www.accuweathe...­

      January 15, 2014

  • Tracy E.

    Sorry for canceling So close to leaving. However I'm having some aches and pains and I just need to stay put for the weekend have a great time!

    January 15, 2014

  • Jim S.

    Has anyone seen the forecast for the weekend? Both days start in the mid 30's and Saturday never hits 60 :o)) The camp fires are gonna be awesome!!!

    January 14, 2014

    • amy

      Oh heck no, we're fossil-ling, as you put it. I'm going in.

      1 · January 14, 2014

    • Lynn H.

      Best. Camping. Weather. Ever!!!!

      2 · January 14, 2014

  • Kristina

    Does anyone have a noodle that I can have. Mine has dry rotted since I placed in on my screen and I can not seem to find any place in North Tampa currently carrying them in supply. I would be happy to pay for it. Thanks

    1 · January 14, 2014

    • Craig G.

      Kristina, I don't know how to say this without it sounding funny, but I have extra noodles (used for Kayak rack) just taking up space in my apt. Your welcome to them.

      January 14, 2014

    • amy

      Kristina, I will bring you a noodle. No worries on the money.

      January 14, 2014

  • amy

    If anyone is planning on making a sifter, I have enough PVC pipe left to make one more. If you are interested let me know so I can have it cut down into 12" sections and bring to you on Fri/Sat. All you will need to get are the elbows, pool noodle, zip ties, and screen.

    January 12, 2014

    • Jeff R.

      I'll bring the remainder of a roll of 1/4" screen

      1 · January 14, 2014

    • amy

      Thank you, Jeff!

      January 14, 2014

  • tina

    sorry have to cxl ...have fun

    January 14, 2014

  • Wes C

    Have to cancel. I injured my shoulder and I'm not up for lifting my kayak or paddling just yet.

    January 14, 2014

    • Elizabeth P

      Hope your shoulder feels better very soon, Wes!

      1 · January 14, 2014

  • Julie N

    Sorry I have to miss this. Not feeling well. Cheers. See you next trip.

    January 14, 2014

    • amy

      Julie, I hope you feel better soon. Will miss you.

      January 14, 2014

    • Ronda G

      Going to miss you! Hope you feel better soon!

      January 14, 2014

  • Marsha

    Oh my gosh....I never get sick! But I picked up a cold/flu bug that has knocked me on my butt! Really bummed out I have to cancel.

    January 14, 2014

    • amy

      Feel better!

      1 · January 14, 2014

  • Jim S.

    Does anyone have one of these camp fire grills I could carry for them or already plan to bring? Some Jiffy Pop sure sounds like a great cure for the late night munchies.
    http://www.coghlans.com/products/camp-grill-8775

    1 · January 14, 2014

    • Lynn H.

      Mine is a different brand...will this work? http://campfiregrill....­. Remember my sweatshirt...where our weiners never fall off?

      January 14, 2014

    • Karen D.

      I have one we can use- care to carry?

      January 14, 2014

  • Dee

    I'm coming Saturday morning. What time are you planning to launch?

    January 10, 2014

    • Jeff R.

      Sorry...no service all weekend!! I updated the notes section to show meeting Saturday morning at 9am. As it originally was before we added Friday night camping

      1 · January 12, 2014

    • Jim S.

      I hope I didn't cause anyone confusion, I was just teasing Dee. Not to worry, you won't see my feet get wet before breakfast and I guarantee that won't be before sunrise LOL.

      January 12, 2014

  • Karen D.

    This camping is backpack style on river?

    January 10, 2014

  • Lynn H.

    For those of you who are kayak-camping virgins, there is good info in the FILES section of this page...click on MORE up at the top, then FILES. If you Google 'pack a kayak for camping' there are lots of articles and nice pictures too.

    2 · January 12, 2014

  • Lynn H.

    Fri Jan 17
    Partly Cloudy 68° 43°
    CHANCE OF RAIN:10%

    Sat Jan 18
    Sunny 61° 36°
    CHANCE OF RAIN: 0% Sun Jan 19
    Mostly Sunny 62° 40°
    CHANCE OF RAIN: 0% PERFECT!!!!

    1 · January 12, 2014

  • Karen D.

    Hurray!

    January 10, 2014

  • Craig G.

    Sorry to miss this great trip. I'll be going to Fantasy Baseball at Port St Lucie for the day to play with the Old Timers.

    January 8, 2014

    • Jeff R.

      Bummer!! Gonna miss ya Craig. See ya at Gore's landing this weekend though

      1 · January 8, 2014

  • Julie N

    Not camping Friday, I live close so I will be there Saturday Morning.

    January 7, 2014

  • tina

    Camping forme Jeff

    January 6, 2014

  • lois v.

    Sorry I have to cancel out of this trip. Have fun and stay safe.

    January 5, 2014

  • Jim S.

    Too bad we aren't doing this trip tonight, what great camp fires we could have with this weather :-)

    1 · January 3, 2014

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