I have paddled miles of Florida's creeks, rivers, and lakes and this area is one of the most scenic areas. There is no development in this area as it is protected by preserve or water management district lands.
I spent 3 different days paddling exploring and fishing this area and could have spent 3 more days just to cover all the water. If the fishing wasn't so good I could have covered more water.
As you leave Russell Landing you are on the main branch of Haw Creek. Here is a decision on which way to paddle. If you head west (downstream) you are heading towards Crescent Lake which is roughly 3 1/2 miles as the crow flies. This section of Haw Creek does have powerboat traffic which is not too bad and because the creek varies between 10-20 yards wide the boats are courteous and not traveling quickly. The banks of the creek are high in this area and it is beautiful paddling under a canopy of live oaks and palm trees.
One mile from the ramp you will hit a small lake where the creek widens, this is where the Little Haw branch enters from the south. I did not get a chance to explore this branch (next year) and this branch leads to Lake Disston. Continuing downstream below this point the high banks disappear and you enter the floodplain of Crescent Lake. You are still under the canopy of the trees all the way to the lake.
I saw wild hogs, turkey, osprey, and bald eagles in this section. Wading birds are scarce in this area as it is swamp vs. marsh and the creek is deep. There is also a healthy population of large alligators in this section. I fished this area and did excellent on black crappie, also caught warmouth, bluegill, and bowfin. The water was cool and the bass were not in.
Heading east (upstream) from the landing the first mile of the creek gets a very small amount of powerboat traffic. One side of the creek is highbank and the other is pasture. Then the creek forks. To the right is the Middle Haw branch (next year), left is the main branch of the Haw. After this area no powerboats were encountered. There is a large amount of strainers that would make it extremely difficult for them to navigate past here.
Staying on the main branch, the creek is flanked by highbanks on both sides and is just beautiful and serene. You could just imagine the Native Americans settled on these banks living off of the abundant wildlife supply. The first stretch of creek after the fork is fairly straight but then the creek meanders with many sharp bends. I paddled as far as the CR 305 bridge. The main branch continues upstream for 3 more miles before splitting into Black Branch and Black Branch Swamp.
The water depth in the creek bends is deep for the size of the creek and the fishing is very good. Hogs, deer, and turkey are abundant. We encountered no other people in this section and likely sees very little use from the looks of things. The water is extremely tannic in this creek and looks like black tea.
I was in my 14 ft. yak and was able to navigate easily, longer yaks might have a little difficulty at some of the strainers. If you are ever in this area and want to see what old Florida looked like this is the place!
There are rest rooms and a picnic area with shelters at the preserve. A small concrete launch ramp directly on the main creek is easily accessible. There are also interpretive nature trails with boardwalks.
From U.S. 17 in Seville take CR 305 east to CR 2006 north, to CR 2007 west. The road dead ends at Haw Creek Preserve at Russell's Landing.
"St. Johns River Water Management District Recreation Guide." You can find an internet version at sjrwmd.com