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Friday, September 2, 2011

Winter Park Chain of Lakes

Red-Tailed Hawk watches the waters of Lake Minehaha 

After almost a year of reading reports on Dave's Yak Tales about the Winter Park Chain of Lakes finally decided that it was time to pay a visit. Almost every week I read reports about this place and say..."Have to go there". Today was the day. Had a very nice paddle visiting six lakes; Maitland, Minnehaha, Nina, Osceola, Virginia and Mizell thru 4 different canals.

Pileated Woodpecker

Put In / Take Out: We did put in at Fort Maitland Park, in Maitland. Arrived around 8:30 and were in the water by 8:45. Here is a link with the park's location. Another website states the address as 900 South Orlando Avenue( or 17 / 92). It is not designed for kayakers but for boaters but there is an area where kayaks and canoes can put in. It gives you access to Lake Maitland, the bigger lake of this chain. We dropped our yak in a grassy area, did park in the visitor's area(there is another area just for trailers) and joined my wife beside the docks. I did not use the boat ramp because it is concrete and our yak is already in bad shape. If you use the boat ramp leave room for boaters. Chances are one or two will leave or arrive while you are there.

Great Blue Heron

Limpkin over Lake Maitland
Once in the water we paddled near the North West side of Lake Maitland heading East looking for the canal to Lake Minnehaha. The birds showed up immediately and my wife had chances to shoot pics at a woodpecker, an anhinga, a great blue heron, a limpkin, and wood ducks. So that was a good start, which set the mood for the rest of the paddle. My plan was to paddle to Lake Minnehaha, visit Lake Nina on our way back to Lake Maitland, and then explore the north shore of the latter, depending on how my wife was feeling and how much she was enjoying the trip. Secretly was hoping to see otters on that part of the chain of lakes but, as you can guess now, there were no otters to be found. That did not take anything away from a nice day in the water.

White water lily pad

Found the entrance to the canal to Lake Minnehaha after maybe 10 minutes paddling and 20 minutes shooting pics. That is the way it is with my photographer but as long as she enjoys it I do not mind. Paddled thru the canal, by Lake Nina( to our left), kept going in the canal, saw the most photographed bridge I can remember, the covered bridge, and to Lake Minnehaha. Once in our destiny we paddled the lake counter-clockwise. Do not ask me why. It has something to do with my line of work. If I have to go around something will do it like that 9 out of 10 times. We enjoyed the set up. The houses are beautiful and made jokes about which one would we buy if we had the money to do so. Almost at the end of the tour I spotted a bird in the top of a tree. As I write this am not sure what is it. My best guess; it is a red-tailed hawk. It can be an immature Red-Shouldered Hawk but it was silent the whole time and, when a red shouldered hawk came by screaming like crazy the one in the opening pic stayed quiet. Based on the dark color of its feathers and also on the fact that red shouldered hawks are very is a Red-Tailed hawk. Please someone correct me if I am wrong.

Moorhen and chick

Lake Maitland view
We did go back to Lake Maitland stopping at Lake Nina. I asked my wife if she wanted to continue and she replied asking me what was there to see. I let her know about the Kraft Azalea Gardens, and the Venetian Canal between the lake we were and the next lake; Lake Osceola. She told me to keep going and we did so. Paddled by an island in the middle of Lake Maitland, Dog Island(???), and headed to the south west end of the lake. As we paddled, kept joking about the houses and which one we liked better. From the distance I was able to see what seemed the Kraft Azalea Gardens and went in that direction. After that we entered the Venetian Canal, connecting Lake Maitland and Lake Osceola. The canal is next to the Rollins College Boat House. Not bad for a first time. Four out of 6 lakes. The canal seemed to relax her and it was a nice relieve from the sun and the wind. I was just hoping not to find a tourist boat coming from the other side.

Kraft Azalea Gardens

Sculpture at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens
Once we arrived at Lake Osceola the question came. What is next? Told she about the Albin Polasek's sculptures and the next canal, Fern Canal between the lake we were and the next lake, Lake Virginia. But it looked like a lot of paddling and was reluctant. She accepted to keep going but we head right ahead of us when we should have gone to the South West part of the lake. Anyways we found our way to the spot   we wanted to find. My wife was in awe with the sculptures and took some pics. It seems like a beautiful place to visit. When she was done we entered the Fern Canal which took us to Lake Virginia. Sweet...five out of six. Just to let you know, my photographer needs to be taking pics all the time she can while kayaking. If not she will become moody and the know...will not be as fun as it should be. The view on these lakes is so beautiful and interesting that she did not mind not seeing wildlife all the time. At the canals she took a break from paddling and enjoyed them. I was hoping for that when decided to bring her to the Winter Park Chain of Lakes.

Did You Know That?  Our Did You Know That? of this post is dedicated to Albin Polasek. He was Chez-American sculptor that created more than 400 works in his career. The museum, the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens at Winter Park has 200 of them in display. Check the following link for more information about this great sculptor named Albin Polasek

Lake Virginia is seen at the end of the Fern Canal

Genius Canal. Lake Mizell is at the other side
Once we came out of the Fern Canal my wife asked me to start our return trip. I asked to go to one more lake, Lake Mizell. Knowing that the canal was close from where we were thanks to the reports I did read, and that Genius Canal is the shortest of all the canals we visited today, was not hard to convince her to go. It was right there, less than 5 minutes away. There we rested under a shade at the entrance of the canal. When we crossed to Lake Mizell she took a look and said..."OK. Let us go back home now". But we did it. Six out of Six lakes!!!!! We started our long trip back to Lake Maitland. On our way out of Lake Mizell saw Rollins College. Their clock was playing a song. It was noon already.

Great Egret

Here are more pics of what we saw today. I apologize for not having pics of how the Venetian and the Fern Canal look when you are on them. Blogger messed up the orientation of the pics and placed them upside down. Same thing happen with the sculpture's pics. It is a little disappointing not to able to share those pics with you but here are the ones I can share. Let me start with the Winter Park Chain of Lakes Air Guard:

Pileated Woodpecker

Wood Duck


Tri-Colored Heron

Red Shoulder Hawk(Juvenile)

A few more...

Flowers in the lake



Juvenile Moorhen

Wood duck

Tri-Colored Heron

Red-Tailed Hawk(???)

Little Blue Heron



Labrador in a yard

Here is a link to the Photobucket slideshow album with more pics...Winter Park Chain of Lakes

Thanks for reading and hope you come back soon for another Views From Our Kayak

Wood Ducks Flying away


  1. I thought of a new name for the WP Chain-- but you need to paddle all six. Like you did. "The six pack"

  2. Six Pack? It sounds cool, or should I say cold?

  3. These pictures are amazing. Terrific photographer!

  4. Wow, Fantastic Blog, it’s so helpful to me, and your blog is very good,
    I’ve learned a lot from your blog here, Keep on going, my friend; I will keep an eye on it,

  5. Thanks Joanne and Gainesville.

    Joanne, by now you probably know that it is my wife the one that shoots the pics. I am just the slave with the paddle. :)

    Gainesville, Glad you like it.

  6. "labrador" is actually a Great Pyrenees. awesome dogs.

    1. It's a Golden Retriever.

  7. are there snakes, alligators or any other dangerous creatures on dog island?

    1. Did not see gators but that did not mean they are not there. About snakes and other creatures, we did not come out of the kayak so cannot tell.