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Al V


Upper Econlockhatchee River, east of Orlando Florida, USA
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Copyright 2001 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Elmer Zebley
  • Date Submitted: 9/2001
  • Location: about 7 miles east of Orlando near Bithlo, Florida, USA
  • Class: 1
  • Distance Paddled: 9 miles one way
  • Water Level: we made this run with no pullovers at high water, but at low water, there are many pullovers. Check water levels with Hidden River Campground (407 568-5346)
  • Water: fresh, tannic blackwater
  • Wildlife: Huge Cypress trees, kingfishers, herons, wood ducks, piliated and other woodpeckers, red shouldered hawks, barred owls and other numerous species of birds, banana and wolf spiders, both water and swamp forest species, otters, deer, hog, alligators
  • Special Regulations:


  • Directions: Take Route 50 (Colonial Drive) about 7 miles east of Orlando and 1.5 miles west of the County Rd. 419 in Bithlo to the Hidden River Campground on the north side of the road and the west side of the Econlockhatchee River at 15295 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32826
  • Fee: $2 launch fee
  • Description: wooden launch ramp (may be slick!)
  • Parking: adjacent paved and unpaved parking
  • Facilities: restrooms, picnic tables, campground
  • Handicap Access: wooden launch ramp


  • Directions: From the entry, water travel is to the north (downstream) to the second road bridge at CR. 419(Chuluota Road); Exit point is 8 miles north on CR. 419 from the intersection of SR 50 and CR. 419 in Bithlo, FL; take out parking is provided on the northeast side of the bridge, turn right onto Willingham Road and park on the left by the kiosk
  • Fee: none
  • Description: dirt bridge abutment area with a short steep climb from river level [about 25 foot rise]
  • Parking: adjacent unpaved
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none

What We Saw

The upper "Econ" is a very typical blackwater stream originating from a large area of swamps and seasonally flooded area to the south. The basic habitat is cypress/hardwood swamp or lowland with an occasional area of pine/palmetto reaching to the river’s edge. There is no gauge for the Econ so it is best to call HRP [407]568-5346 for conditions. With low water the river twists and turns in a narrow channel providing numerous maneuvering tests. The occasional downed log will require a pullover at normal water levels but these increase exponentially as the water drops. At high water levels the river leaves its banks and provides an interesting opportunity to paddle through the woods. This provides challenges not only in maneuvering but also finding a clear route. In fact it may be impossible to find the actual channel but there is no possibility of getting lost as eventually the river will become channeled where the banks are higher. As there is little gradient the current isn’t extremely fast although in places it can get pushy so safety should always be a concern. The dark tannic water makes it difficult to see obstacles just under the surface so be prepared to bump into things. Cypress knees especially seem to delight in preying on unsuspecting boaters. Suprisingly, for being this close to Orlando, sights and sounds of civilization are few. The seasoning flooding keeps encroachment to a minimum with only 1 or 2 homes barely visible from the river.

Wildlife can be abundant if you paddle slowly and quietly but does tend to be skittish. Squirrel, otter and deer are the most commonly seen mammals. Wild hog, gray fox and swamp cottontail have been observed. Any of the typical Fl water, swamp or hardwood forest birds may be seen. The most abundant being kingfishers, herons, wood ducks, piliated and other woodpeckers, red shouldered hawks and barred owls. Alligators are seen although not in great numbers and they do tend to be more wary than on some other streams. Snakes are sometimes seen by the very observant but they too seem to be more shy than other places I’ve paddled. A warning to any arachnophobes, banana spiders are very prevalent on the Econ, often with their webs spanning the entire river. Large wolf spiders and other "big Boys" are fairly common so keep an eye out for the smaller creatures. (See photo section.)
Time to travel this section can vary widely depending on your paddling style and water level (number of pull overs in low conditions). It is commonly stated to be a 4 to 5 hour trip. It has been done in just over 2 hrs by a very fast paddler with the water up. It has also taken almost 8 hrs when the water was low and we had almost 50 pullovers and little current. These distance traveled markers along the river may help you judge your rate of progress: Lake Pickett Road bridge -1.5 miles, 1st power line - 2 m., 2nd power line - 3 m., (best place to take lunch if water is high (GPS: N 28 degrees 35.787' W 81 degrees 09.494'), The Hidden River Park takeout on river left (HRP) - 5 m., a large outflow pipe from a subdivision retention pond on river right - 7.5 m., and the 419 bridge (Takeout/Exit) - 9miles.

Hazards on the Econ are more likely to be those less thought of kinds, such as wasp nests, slip and falls while doing pullovers and probably the most dangerous, heat exhaustion. Like almost any endeavor the simple rules apply, pay attention, be careful and be prepared. Plenty of fluid should always be taken on any trip. Raingear is always a good option as afternoon thunderstorm can build quickly. High water levels do create the possibility of strainers so appropriate caution should be observed when the water is up.