Steffee Landing at the Shingle Creek Regional Park, 4266 W. Vine St., Kissimmee
Marsh Landing part of Shingle Creek RegionalPark, 3465 Marsh Rd, Kissimmee
Our kayak group of 8 launched from the public ramp (free) and headed downstream for a 7 mile trip that ended up being the adventure of a lifetime. The first 1-2 miles is a beautiful and deceptively easy run through what I can only describe as a Cypress tree forest. It is hard to believe you're a stone's throw away from the Disney tourist area and Hwy 192 traffic, because it's almost like stepping back in time to a different Florida.
At about the 1-1/2 mile point you actually paddle under a stop sign. This is there to let people in rental kayaks to know to turn around and head back towards the outfitter (the Paddling Center has rentals www.paddlingcenter.com). We, being the crazy adventures that we are, decided to keep going.
Beyond that stop sign, things get interesting. There is no longer a CLEAR river path to follow, but the trail IS well marked with orange blazes on the trees and wooden markers in the ground. It's an easy beautiful but zig-zaggy trip until you reach marker 75 or so. When we went around one curve we were greater by the sound of RAPIDS... not a straight, wide open river kind of rapids (like Peace River), but a narrow twisty section of rapids with a strainer at the end of it. I went first and had a blast, kind of like a roller coaster ride, but when I looked back, my group members were dropping like flies. One after one I hear the telltale sound of kayaks flipping over.
Now, most of my group are EXPERIENCED kayakers, but they even had troubles. The next 2 miles are pretty much continual sections of rapids and strainers and various obstacles. There was one area where we had to get out of our boats, shove the kayaks under a tree while we climbed over the tree, but no real portages. The rapids took their toll on our group and the river claimed: 3 pairs of glasses, one wallet, one paddle (we were too busy saving people to catch it, and never saw it again!), 4 shoes and... wait for it... one pair of shorts (yes, while one girl was caught in a strainer the shorts were pulled right off of her!
Then, for the last 2 miles or so, you're back to calm river that opens up and looks reminiscent of the river you started the paddle on. By the time we saw our exit point, we were tired, wet and hungry but 7 out of the 8 people said they'd do this run again... crazy people LOL
Marsh Landing, where we ended, is in the process of opening up a restaurant/bar, which will be a welcome thing after this run. They are ALMOST finished and just waiting on their liquor license. Next time we may start at the endpoint and go to Mackinac Island nearby.
** Warning!! **
As of June 2016, they are in the process of clearing parts of this river. By doing so, dangerous strainers are being created. Our group feels that this 7-mile section is simply too dangerous at this time, even for experienced paddlers. We'd strongly recommend waiting a month or two before attempting this run.
Clean bathrooms, rental kayaks, walking trails, and two boat launch areas, a wide beach for those renting boats and a smaller Sandy area for public use. Parking gets full on the weekends in the summer, so arrive before 10am.
Parking is free, launch is free just don't block their rental customers.
When we were there rental rates were $13/hr for single kayaks and $16/hr tandems, minimum 2 hr rental.
GPS address for launch site is 4266 W Vine St. As you're heading east on Hwy 192, you'll pass Medieval Times, and will see "markers". If heading east, just past marker 15 you'll see the park entrance. It's easy to miss, so go slow!
The family that runs the rental facility is very knowledgeable about the river and conditions, and can show you a map of the trail and what to look out for.