8 - Bear Creek


Put In:  Lat/Long 29°28’46”/81°40’3

            Corner of Palmetto Street and Front Street, Welaka, FL

Take Out:  Same as Put In

Distance:  6 miles

Planned Stops:  None

Difficulty:  Intermediate to Advanced

Estimated Time: 3-4 hours

Narrative Description:  This paddle put-in is at the Welaka Landing at the end of Palmetto Street in Welaka. There is plenty of parking available and restrooms are a block from the put-in in the city park. There are no take-outs on the route so plan ahead. 

It will be necessary to cross the St. Johns River twice. Caution should be used since motorized boat travel is heavy in this area. Stay in groups and no lollygagging while crossing the channel. The river is ¼ mile wide here. Windy conditions can cause difficulties so be sure to check the weather prior to put-in.

You will paddle across the river and take the “back way” to Bear Creek. There is a narrow channel through the lily pads on the Indian shore (west) that will shelter you from wind and waves. Bear Creek is two hundred yards past the Ocklawaha. It offers pristine wetlands and a narrow channel that has some upstream flow. Two and a half miles upstream Bear Creek joins the Ocklawaha and it is downstream for two miles to the St. Johns River. Retrace your route from there to the landing. 

There are two Bartram sites on this paddle. The Welaka kiosk is located at Palmetto and First by the restrooms. Beecher Point (Mounty Hope) Batram Trail Site #19 is located on the eastern shore directly across from the mouth of the Ocklawaha. The Ocklawaha River was Florida’s original tourist destination and has not changed in thousands of years.  It is native Florida at its best. 

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