Without a doubt, Lake Kissimmee state park is a little piece of paradise, just awaiting those who love to explore. It’s located in the mid-central part of Florida and is quite literally, stuck in “the middle of nowhere” which is exactly where its charm lies. It’s where you go when you want to detach from the world and find your own brand of inner peace.
The photo above is the Zipprer Canal in Lake Kissimmee state park. It connects the park to Lake Rosalie. The canal is shallow but is perfect for kayaks or canoes, with Great Blue herons and Snowy egrets a common sight along its banks. And yes, the water really is that blue.
Paddling Lake Kissimmee is always enjoyable but there’s a wonderful 12-mile loop that lets you start at Zipprer Canal and take creeks and a couple of lakes to get back to Lake Kissimmee. The scenery is varied and absolutely amazing. Come on along on our journey…
Once you begin paddling on the Zipprer Canal, the terrain changes a bit (like the photo above) and offers areas that are habitat for Black-crowned night herons. I wasn’t fortunate enough to capture a photo of the heron just mentioned, but we did see several immature Little Blue herons.
And several majestic Great Blue herons like this one, which was undisturbed by our presence and much more interested in finding breakfast.
Towards the end of the canal and closer to Lake Rosalie, we came upon this scene with overhanging branches dripping with Spanish moss that invited one to continue on. Doesn’t this remind you of something from a movie? Almost mesmerizing…
Add to that a wonderful little Kingfisher bouncing from tree to tree just in front of us. No great photo of it, of course, but here’s a very bad one just to give you an idea of what this little character looks like.
It was a rather foggy morning, so we hugged the shore of Lake Rosalie as we paddled the short distance to Rosalie Creek with friends. Kind of mesmerizing. And very very quiet.
But luckily the fog began to clear and made paddling the winding, narrow Rosalie Creek an absolute joy to experience. Not many power boats dare to enter this little creek, though we did encounter one brave soul who was lucky enough to find a place to turn around and safely retreat.
Paddling this little creek required a few maneuvers to wind your way through, but there was essentially no current and the scenery was absolutely glorious. Eagles and ospreys circled overhead, and the ever-present Anhinga’s kept one company, like this female in the photo below.
And herons of course, Great blues, Little blues (photo below), and Snowy egrets.
After Rosalie Creek, we moved into Tiger Lake which was blissfully calm and allowed us to paddle directly across to Tiger Creek. I’ve heard tales of having to paddle in strong winds across Tiger Lake at a 45 degree angle away from the creek in order to make it to that destination. I was certainly glad it was a calm day as our canoe weighed 69 pounds and could not be considered a lightweight one by any stretch of the imagination.
We encountered a bit of current paddling Tiger Creek, but it was very enjoyable. Blue skies with puffy white clouds above, the canoes moving smoothly through vivid-blue waters, bright green vegetation helping shore birds believe they’re totally hidden. What more is there to wish for?
Of course some birds come out to explore, like this Common Galenule.
If you’re exceptionally lucky on a paddle you might get to see this Snail Kite. It’s a majestic bird of prey. I’ve seen them flying before but have never been able to get a photo of one until now. I believe this one to be an immature Snail Kite based upon photos I’ve seen online, but don’t quote me. Snail kites (as well as Limpkins) feed on freshwater apple snails.
And we couldn’t have a blog about paddling without throwing in at least one photo of an alligator. They’re a fairly common sight when one is near water here. Most are pretty peaceful and just hanging out, till a bird gets close enough to become dinner.
And once through Tiger Creek, you get to Lake Kissimmee, which is big – nearly 35,000 acres. But our paddle is just a short jaunt from the creek into the other end of the canal which lets you return to Lake Kissimmee state park.
It’s been an absolutely wonderful 12-mile paddle beginning and ending at Lake Kissimmee state park. If you enjoy paddling, you will love this one. Put Lake Kissimmee state park on your “to do” list, but be sure to save a camping site for us! Hope to see you there sometime soon.
Until next time, keep exploring nature up close.