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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge - Updated

Screeching Owl

Things went South today. Way South. Literally...South. Views From Our Kayak did pay a visit to Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach. A tougher than expected but a pretty decent paddle at the 5.5 paddling trail at the refuge. Not many pics because...well, I will tell you later.

Loxahatchee NWR Gator

The story about how in the world we ended paddling at the Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee NWR is a long one and will spare you of the details. Just leave a comment if you want to know. Can tell you that it was a long drive from our home to the refuge. Ironic, we used to live in Jupiter, less than 1 hour from Boynton Beach, and never heard of this nice place.

Canoe Trail Entrance

Put In / Take Out: Here is a link with the information of the refuge: Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The charge per vehicle is $5. There was no attendant when we made it to the gate at 7:35 AM. So we put the money in the provided envelope and put the receipt in our dash per their written instructions. Did put in at the boat ramps area.


As we prepared the kayak a volunteer, Scott, greeted us and gave us some guide lines about the trail. He also mentioned that two gators had to be put down last night because aggressiveness but that they were not a danger as long as we did not do something stupid, like feeding them. That brings a mini rant for today: I did read about a gator attack this week at this same place and want to say something. Gators are not vicious killers. Luckily for me did prove that today. As animals they act on instincts and habits. But then there always some idiots that think that is cool to feed them causing the animal to loose their natural fear to the humans. They relate humans with food and then we have unfortunate situations like the attack on the boy and then forcing Wildlife officials to put down gators. Fishermen toss their unwanted catch to gators, people think they are pets and feed them whatever they have on hand. That is a recipe for disaster. And I will stop right here before it is too late.


Started our paddle at 8 AM, under a beautiful blue sky and a light breeze that turned into a pain in the eye later. Just as a summary, the trail is 5.5 long with a shortcut that will put give you about 3.7 or 3.8 miles. Wifey and I did the long loop. The trail has mile markers along the rout and also information stations. There is a floating dock near to the midpoint, in case you want to take a break. The whole circuit can take anything from 3 to 4 hours. That being said let us go to the pics...

Purple Gallinule

Moorhen and chicks

Great Egret

Wood Stork

Gator goes from the sawgrass to the water, which was a repetitive scene during the trip

I am going to make a parenthesis here. This paddle was much harder than I was expecting. It was hard to move because the hydrilla and the water lilies. At times it was so thick that we had to push instead of paddling to move forward. Also, it is also very shallow in some areas, specially after the midpoint. Always call the refuge and ask about the water levels before going there.

Water Lili
Something that was impressive here was the ridiculous Black Crowned Night Herons sightings. We saw like 18 of them. Sadly they were not pic friendly today.

Black Crowned Night Heron. Have never seen so many of these.

Great Egret

Information station

Always stay in the middle of the canal. Do not go near the sawgrass or you may have a close encounter with an alligator as I had one today. It was close...too close. I was very glad the gator was only a 5 footer at the most and did not walked over me on its way to the water out of the sawgrass. It was that close.

Gator out of the sawgrass, This was not the one that we came close to.

At the mile marker #2 wifey and I had this exchange of words:

She: The camera does not work
Me: Huh? Turn it off and then turn it on again
She: I did. Does not work
Me: OK. No problem. It is the battery. Change it.
She: Where is the spare? Do you have it?
Me: No. Is in the camera bag.
She: Well. I do not have the bag. Do you?
Me: Darn, I left it in the minivan.

That being said we spent the next three miles battling a strong breeze and the thick hydrilla and water lilies cover without the satisfaction of a pic for the rest of the way. Not that there were too many pics chances anyways. Made it back to the boat ramp area 5 after 11 AM and then went for a short walk at the Marsh Trail not before stopping to shoot pics at a Pileated Woodpecker feeding their chicks inside a power pole.

Female Pileated Woodecker

Pileated Woodpecker feeds her little ones

Tri-Colored Heron

Cattle Egret

Little Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Glossy Ibis

And just when we were ready to leave a nice lady asked me if I saw the Screeching Owl. I said no and then she pointed at where it was supposed to be. First did not see it but before leaving took another look and saw it in another power pole, using an abandoned Pileated Woodpecker nest. It was the highlight of the trip...

Screeching Owl

Screeching Owl

Update: When our camera went down because the batteries my wife grabbed the back up and did shot some pics. I completely forgot she had done that but this morning went through the pics she took and there are a few ones we can share...

Scene at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR. Paddling over hydrilla and water lilies most of the time. The paddling trail has sawgrass to the left and the right 90% of the route with only a few open spots.

Floating dock close to the mid-point of the paddling trail.


Decent size gator


Gator in the sawgrass

Probably the biggest gator of the trip. 8 to 9 feet.

Sleeping little gator

And that is it for this one. Wifey and I agreed that next time we will stay overnight and will spend more time exploring the refuge area. We missed some nice sections of it. The paddling trail was not too impressive but we have to give it another try. Maybe without the issue with the thick vegetation it would become a nicer paddle. We also agreed that next time I should not forget the batteries for the camera. Thanks for reading and do not forget to check our Views From Our Kayak - Facebook page and "Like" us if you would. Thanks for reading and see you soon to share more Views From Our Kayak.

The paddling trail is well marked and there are indication all the time letting you know where to go.


  1. Very interesting! I'll have to get back down that way and paddle that trail. I love the screech owl pictures---I've seen them at Mead Gardens, but never nesting. Very cool. And the Little Blue Heron with the big frog, also great.

  2. I'm glad you went, as I have not been there. I think it may be a good place to combine with the Loxahatchee on a weekend. Stay the night to make the drive worthwhile.

    1. That is exactly the way to go. I have not been in the Loxahatchee River and thought about doing just that. Unfortunately we were not prepared for an overnight stay but that will be the plan next time. Also, the refuge has so many areas to explore. Is not only the paddling trail. We want to see as much as we can on the next visit.

  3. This is just a wonderful show of our beautiful National Refuge in Boynton Beach. Please consider posting a couple each day on our Friends of Loxahatchee Facebook page? So pleased you haad a good journey. You sure saw a lot of amazing birds.

  4. Thank you so much for mentioning about the gators and that they aren't these horrible creatures that everyone makes them out to be. I just got done writing a post for next week with some shots I took when we were hanging out by Lake Jessup. I think alligators are amazing creatures... What I've noted is that if you respect them they will respect you. I'm saddened to hear about the two that were put down. It was this time last year that we had an attack in a lake near our house (a guy fishing in a kayak thought it would be a good idea to bring his little dog along - the gator attempted to make it snack food). Two words - common sense.

    Okay, rant over.

    Gorgeous shots as always!