Yesterday, my wife and I took a full day "Eco-tour" paddle along the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, Florida. It was just the two of us with our guide Ryan (owner of Eco Paddlesports). Ryan picked us up at Jonathan Dickinson Park (the takeout point) and shuttled us to the put in at Riverbend park. He provided the lunch, snacks and plenty of bottled water. There we unloaded the boats and put in to the canal that leads to the river.
The tour took us through the full range of habitats on the Loxahatchee River, from freshwater Cypress swamps to coastal mangrove forests. The trip is billed as a 5-6 hour, 8 mile paddle with two short portages around man made wooden dams. However, our trip took quite a bit longer due to the low river level (we lost count of log jam portages after about a dozen) and frequent wildlife photo ops. We saw numerous ospreys, turtles,alligators, ibis, limpkins, egrets, barred owls, as well as a river otter and a manatee. Between the abundant wildlife and the beautiful natural scenery, this is a great trip for the nature lover who isn't afraid to get a little bit sweaty and dirty. We loved every minute of it and hope to do this trip again.
I would recommend going with a guided trip down this river (at least for first timers like ourselves), as it seemed like it would be very easy to get lost in all of the meandering side channels as the river winds its way through the swamp. This river is extremely narrow and winding, so reasonably good boat maneuvering skills are needed.
$6.00/per car entry fee for Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Put-in: Riverbend Park off of Indiantown Road (Rt 706) about 2 miles west of I-95.
Take out: River store at Jonathan Dickinson State Park - 16450 SE Federal Hwy 1
I would highly recommend Ryan Sullivan of Eco Paddlesports as a tour guide for this trip. He was very knowledgeable of the river history, ecology, and the river itself.