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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blue Springs - Hontoon Island Loop

Red Shouldered Hawk

Saturday, the first October's day, kayaked around Hontoon Island State Park out of Blue Springs State Park. This time was able to kayak thru Snake Creek, which offered no trouble and was an easy paddle. There was only one small span, maybe 40 feet, where had to push thru vegetation. Other than that was a nice and easy one. It was a solo paddle and you know what that means...No good pics. But did try to do my best.

Great Egret

Put In/ Take Out: The put in and take out was the Blue Spring State Park in Orange City. Paid $4.00 at the gate and was in the parking lot at 8:45. Two cars in the parking lot at the time. Before going to the water took a look at the Blue Spring Run from the boardwalk. No manatees in the run and a nice breeze coming from the north. Found out later that the breeze was not so nice in the water but at the time just enjoyed the view. Was in the water by 9:20.

Great Blue Heron

As soon as started paddle the St. John River realized that the nice breeze was not so nice if you were in the water. It was more a strong wind in the open waters of the river. The wind was stronger than the current and pushed you to the South. I was not sure what to do at the time but decided to paddle the Blue Spring Run. Scuba divers were already at the spring vent and I observed from the distance. Did not paddle over the area and as tempted as I was did not snorkel. Wanted to go out and check what was there to see.

Blue Spring

Female anhinga
After coming out of the Blue Spring Run headed North to an island in front of the French Avenue. That place is usually a good place to see wildlife and have seen manatees in the past in the area. This time the marine mammals were not there and the wildlife was not too abundant. Only a couple of herons and an egret was the tally. Not even a gator, which is an almost automatic in that part of the river. I had to make a decision about what to do now. I wanted to go North to border the Hontoon Island State Park, paddle the Dead River and then back to the St. John River thru Snake Creek, or one of the canals South of it, being this last one my preferred option. Last time we tried the Snake Creek it was blocked by the vegetation and was 0-2 in that department. But when paddle back to the St. John realized that the wind was too strong and was going to make my paddle a tough one. It was like trying to drive in a street full of speed bumps. After the first few waves decided to turn around and try to do the loop from the South using Snake Creek. If it was still blocked was going to call it a day.

St. John River Turtle

Snake Creek - Hontoon Dead River is at the end
At the entrance of the Snake Creek heard a conversation between Red Shouldered Hawks. Three of them were having a very animated argument. Was able to see two of them, got pics of only one. As I said earlier this was my second attempt to paddle Snake Creek, first time solo, and was set to turn around at the first blockage. So, when started paddling deeper and deeper into the creek thought that maybe the third was the charmed. The most recent time paddling there saw a flock of Black Crowned Night Herons so was hoping for the same. There was a flock but of Great Blue Herons, coming out of their perches in a hurry with their characteristic "hunk...hunk". No blockage this time at the creek, which offers a nice scenery. Found no one, not a single person in the creek. Thought that maybe I was the only one brave, or stupid, enough tot be there. Maybe 45 minutes into Snake Creek, with two pic stops included, reached a place where did not see any water but a downed tree and vegetation. Thought that maybe that was it but was able to push thru the weeds. A Green Heron flew away in alarm because my presence leaving me with a raised camera but no subject to shoot a pic at. Shortly after that, 15 minutes later reached the area where the Snake Creek joins the Hontoon Dead River. My watch had 11:59 at the time, meaning that took me 1 hour to paddle the creek. I am not a fast paddler so do not use this time as a reference if you plan to paddle there.

Belted Kingfisher

At the Hontoon Dead River crossed path with three boats in a one hour time frame. Stopped at the Hontoon Island State Park docks to stretch my legs and after 15 minutes resumed my paddle looking to go back to Blue Spring State Park and call it a day. The wind was not as strong as it was in the morning but it was still blowing from the North. Sometimes it blew strong making my paddle easier but the boats in the St John were not as forgiving. Ended up all wet because the waves many of them created. Made it back to Blue Spring State Park at 2:45PM. Have to say I was really tired when finally put the yak on top of the minivan. Thought about taking a dip in the spring run but did not do it. Wanted to go back home and get some sleep. I guess that the toll of two long paddles got me.

Here are more pics of what I saw during this paddle...

Little Blue Heron

It says NO WAKE. Nothing about no flying!!!

Great Egret and a juvenile Little Blue Heron at Snake Creek

Snowy Egret

Great Blue Heron



Belted Kingfisher

Red Shouldered Hawk

And that is all for this one. Here is a link for pics of this and past trips to Blue Spring. Thanks for reading and hope you come back next week for another Views From Our Kayak.

Ibis' Flock flying over Snake Creek


  1. Great pics, especially the hawk. Glad to know Snake Creek is open.

  2. Are you able to go up the run from the river? It appears to be a short but scenic paddle.

    1. Yes, but you have to do it early. There is a sign that tells you the times when you can do that. I probably posted that on one of my previous posts about this place. Also, the run is closed when the manatees are there. That information is also somewhere in the posts.

  3. Thanks! Great pics by the way!