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.