Fisheating Creek is a wondrous little creek that drains water from Highlands County into Lake Okeechobee in South Central Florida. Until about two years ago the creek was mostly private land with no public access, until the State of Florida bought the property and turned it into a part of the Florida Trails program. The creek meanders through miles of cypress forest and prairie. During low water times it is very easy to follow the creek, but during higher water times the State installed direction signs to help keep you within the boundaries of the stream. They also installed mile markers to give you references of where you are on the creek. My paddle was during the lower water level; the USGS gage reading was 1.83 feet. The locals recommend padding when the gage reading is 3 feet or more. I found the water level acceptable and only one time did I have to get out and push my canoe a few feet.
There are two approaches to paddling this creek. You can have the outfitter take you 6 or 8.5 miles upstream and paddle with the flow or you can paddle upstream as I did. This will depend upon the flow; you can easily paddle against the stream depending upon the conditions.
My plan called for putting in at the Fisheating Creek Campground Resort located on highway 27 in Palmdale. The staff at the site were friendly and helpful. The ramp opens onto a sand and mud shallow lake when the water is low. The ground is firm and allows you to easily manage your canoe or kayak. The water is clear but has a dark brown tint from the tannin in the water making is hard to see the bottom if the depth is more that 2 feet deep. The bottom varies from white sand to a dark muck color but is generally firm. I took Morgan, my black Labrador Retriever on the trip, she spent the majority of the trip running the banks and creek that was typically not more than 21 inches in many places.
About 1.5 miles up stream we found a nice campsite and marked the map. At 2 miles we started to run into alligators ranging from 2 to 8 feet in length. The stream became narrower and the current was running faster in narrow eddies making it harder to paddle. We paddled to the 6-mile mark but while there were some interesting places to camp none were as nice as the first campsite so we turned around and paddled back.
During the padding we heard owls and various species of birds in the cypress forest. In some areas the cypress was very dense muting the bright sunlight of a wonderful Florida day. In other areas it opened up and the sunlight lit the tannin water to a brilliant brown.
Fisheating Creek can be planned as a day trip or up to several days. The creek runs for over 40 miles and can be paddled in segments or what ever you would like to do. Palmdale, Florida can be easily found on the map or by using MapQuest.
There are several campsites along the creek the size and quality vary greatly and are effected by water level. There is a Historical Hotel in Cleweston appoximately 30 miles South that is worth visting.
There are ramp and overnight fees. They seem to vary and should be posed on their website. I paid a $5.00 ramp fee and a $12.00 overnight fee.
It is Northwest of Lake Okeechobee on US Highway 27. This is about a two-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale.
The Creek has boat ramp in Palmdale and a put in at Ingrams Crossing.
The outfitter provides a good map and The Delome 3D Topo Quade map series of Florida is an excellent resources.