Alafia River Trip Report

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Ted | VCKC
Published Monday, April 25, 2005

Date: April 26, 2005

Number of Paddlers: 37 (14 Rental Canoes, 5 Rental Kayaks and 3 Private Boats)

Travel Time: from Southern Trace Shopping Center was just under 2 hrs and about 90 miles

Trip Length: While Outfitter information stated the section of the river we did was 12 miles, a paddler's GPS marked it as 7.5 miles. We did the trip in about 3 hrs, which included rest stops.

Boat Rentals:

Alafia River Canoe Rentals, 4419 River Drive, Valrico, FL 33594, 813.689.8645 (no website) provided the canoes and kayaks. The canoes were 15-foot Aluminum boats and were mostly in good shape, though at least one boat leaked and the paddlers quickly returned for a replacement. (More on this below). The outfitter's shop, which was the Take-out for our trip was right on the river and was easy to spot at the end of the trip; they had 3 vans that transported paddlers to the Put-in. We found them to be friendly and eager for our business and would recommend using them again.

Weather Conditions:

It was mostly overcast during our trip and while it looked like it would rain, it didn't. Temps were in the mid to upper 70s throughout the paddle and there was a pleasant breeze.

The River and Terrain:

The Alafia was true to the description report; it had a haunting wilderness feel which belied its closeness to Tampa. It was a picture of what Florida was once like and, in spots is still like. The outfitter stated that river conditions were just about normal which meant that we paddled with a mild current over water that varied from a depth of two or three inches to probably no more than four feet. It certainly was a windy and twisty narrow river and showed the scars of the hurricanes that ravaged the area this past year.

It is a relatively narrow river in comparison to the Santa Fe and Ocklawaha with width varying between no more than 12 to about 20 feet. The amount of downfall and freshly cut trees was evidence of the damage done by our recent hurricanes. While the river was navigable, there were many submerged obstacles that caused many paddlers to become “hung-up”.

The banks of this river were higher than we see on area rivers and, I was told, that the outfitter's shop - perhaps 20 feet above the river, had a 4-foot high water mark during a bad storm - wow!!

Wildlife Sightings:

While the woods were dark and deep, we saw very little signs of wildlife. A couple yakers claimed they spotted one or two 12-foot alligators; my backseater and I saw a dead fish and 2 or 3 turtles and heard some bird life.

Group Enjoyment and Difficulty Rating:

One of our very experienced paddlers commented that he initially had some concerns regarding the ability of our participating paddlers to do this trip without difficulty and was impressed with how little problems we had and that he really enjoyed this river. I only heard of one paddler who got wet.

The Alafia offered technical challenges that included Class I water but was still within all's abilities. Primarily because of the submerged obstacles and the twists and turns, I would continue to rate this river as for intermediate paddlers.

At the end of the trip about 20 of us stopped at Tadpoles for lunch and it was very good. I even got them to do a Grouper Sandwich my way... Blackened with Grilled Onions, Cheese and Jalapeno Peppers - if your stomach allows, try it and you will become a true believer. The company and conversations was a great finish to a fine day on a great river.

Paddle Safely, Ted

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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