First I need to point out that Kim Delong's 2001 review nailed everything about this place. Perhaps she had high water when she paddled the loop but what I found was miserable. The first quarter mile is as described. 10-15 feet wide with several feet of water below. Then it turns into a clogged mess for the remainder of the trip till you get back to the entry channel. Giant lily pads (I'm from New Jersey where the lilies are smaller) and a growth of vines just below the surface.
The lily pads themselves would not present that much of a problem but for the fact that they are everywhere across the loop and finding a place to put in a paddle for a free stroke was near impossible. But what is worse are those viney grasses that snag your paddle and don't want to let go.
I paddle a solo canoe, a Merrimack Baboosic, that is light as a feather and glides thru most water. I paddle Indian style with my paddle rarely leaving the water. It was impossible to get any momentum and I found myself having to free my paddle and switch sidess on nearly every stroke. Forget cross stokes unless you are the world strongest person.
After nearly an hour I came across mile marker 1. Had I any idea that things would be the same and in some places worse I would have turned back. It took me 4 hours 40 minutes to do 5.5 miles! A distance that I should do in 2 hours with no effort.
Yes, I saw many gators laying along the "bank" just a few feet away. I heard several laugh and call me sucker or at least that's what I thought they were saying behind those scary eyes that followed me as I passed them. Saw one red belly turtle and lots of birds of the region. The birds were very tolerant and didn't launch till I was surprisingly close to them.
Never have I been so happy to get back to open water for that last quarter mile to the launch site. A local told me that there really isn't a high water season so until it's reported that the loop has been dredged I caution all to stay away. I'd rather see gators at a zoo than paddle this wretched place again.
Oh, and the porta potty near the half way point is gone. There is a platform to get up on.
$5.00 to enter