12 - Ocklawaha to Welaka


Put In: Lat/Long 29°30’22”/81°48’25”

            Southwest corner of Rodman Dam

Take Out: Lat/Long 29°28’46”/81°40’30”

                 Corner of Palmetto Street and Front Street, Welaka, FL

Distance: 13 miles

Planned Stops:  None

Difficulty:  Advanced

Estimated Time: 6 hours

Narrative Description: This paddle consists of the entire lower Ocklawaha starting from the Rodman Dam and ending in Welaka. It requires a shuttle. This is the lower part of the Ocklawaha River and is as it was hundreds of years ago, in its pristine natural beauty, totally unmarred by restaurants, marinas, gas pumps or waterfront homes. The put-in is a dirt ramp. There are restrooms at the put-in and at the take-out. There are two places to rest and swim on the route. The river is narrow and there may be motorized boat traffic so pay attention to the noise and move to the side. Once you reach then mouth of the river, you must cross the St. Johns River - take car - there may be fast motorized traffic. Wind is not a concern until you reach the St. Johns River. You will be paddling downstream the entire way. Davenport Landing is on the right four miles downstream and a perfect place to lunch.

Dead Creek takes off to the left about ¼ mile from the intersection of the original channel and the spillway channel. It is the same size as the river. Stay to the right.

The natural landscapes are mostly hydric hammocks and flatwoods, with scrub pine ridges and sugar sand banks. This is the most beautiful of Putnam County’s Paddling Trails. The river flows steadily and there is turn after turn to keep paddlers alert. The trail is the most paddled waterway in the county. The Ocklawaha is teaming with wildlife including alligators, snakes, and hornets. There are several sandy beach landings along the river including the historic Davenport Landing. The Ocala National Forest manages a campground here. Seven miles downstream down is the Highway 19 Bridge and Johnson Field boat ramp. This is the takeout for Paddle #11. You will continue to the mouth of the Ocklawaha and then across the St. Johns River and on to the Welaka City ramp at the base of Palmetto Road.

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