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Canoeing & Kayaking


Loxahatchee River, Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Jupiter, FL

This page Copyright 1999 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Al Vazquez
  • Date Submitted: 4/99
  • Location: Jupiter FL (Jonathan Dickinson State Park 561-546-2771)
  • Class: Typically Class 1 with slight current and 2 small waterfalls (easily portaged) or Class 2 if the water is up
  • Distance Paddled: 5 miles one way
  • Water: fresh at first, then tidal estuary
  • Wildlife: Alligators are common (we saw 6 on our last trip), majestic cypress trees, egrets, osprey


  • Direction: Take I-95 to the Jupiter exit, which is Route 706 West. Take Route 706 West about a mile. You go over a small bridge, then soon see a small gravel parking area on the right adjacent to a second small bridge over the Loxahatchee.
  • GPS: N 26 deg 56.262' W 080 deg 10.536'
  • Fee: none
  • Description: unpaved ramps
  • Parking: Adjacent, gravel
  • Facilities: none, but there are stores and gas stations within a mile or two nearby


  • Directions: Take I-95 to the Route 708 exit (also called Bridge Road), which also had a sign for Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Go East on Route 708 about 5 miles to US 1. Take US 1 south about 6 miles to the park entrance on the west side of the road. You'll want to head to the public boat ramps just outside the campgrounds by taking the first right inside the park several miles to a sign for the campground road to the left. Take that left. After about a mile, pass the campground entrance on the right and you'll immediately come to the public boat ramp.
  • From the water, look for high voltage power lines behind the ramp
  • GPS: N 26 deg 59.282' W 080 deg 08.559'
  • Fee: $4 per vehicle
  • Description: paved boat ramps
  • Parking: Adjacent, paved
  • Facilities: none at the ramp, but there are restrooms, picnic areas and camping within the park.

What We Saw

What a gorgeous stream! The Loxahatchee was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1985.

Try to avoid busy summer weekends when the river becomes a bit too popular.

At the top, sun filters between tall cypress trees as the creek weaves back and forth. With a typical current, you'll have to paddle and steer energetically from time to time to stay on course.

You may want to call ahead to Jonathan Dickinson State Park to ask about the water level. If it's too low, you have almost a dozen log pullovers in the first mile of river. Not good.

When the water is up, we enjoyed the first mile the most.

And alligators are a common sight. Never feed nor approach alligators. As long as we've passed them by (and snapped a few pictures) they've never bothered us. Smaller gators may jump into the water out of fear when they see a kayak. Mating season is typically mid-April through May. During this season, the male alligators become more aggressive and territorial, so be a little extra careful. Baby gators hatch typically in September. Their protective mothers may be nearby, so again, take extra care. But enjoy these primitive creatures when you see them.

Within the first half mile you'll come to two small waterfalls. The first is a relic from an old mill and usually has about a one foot drop.

The second waterfall is over an old weir and is typically a 2 foot drop.

Both falls have decks beside them with steps for those that would rather portage around the falls. Though some use these decks to carry their boats back upstream and go over the falls again and again..

Make sure there is enough current to float your kayak or canoe over the dam. If the water level is too low, you'll get stuck on top of the dam and the chances are good the meager current will twist your boat sideways and capsize you.

When there is enough current, you may go over the falls staying balanced as you go over and enjoy a little whitewater in Florida.

Trapper Nelson's (see photo at right) is a great lunch stop 1.6 miles downstream from the start GPS: N 26 deg 58.584' W 080 deg 09.799'. It is open from 9 am to 5 PM, but closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Trapper Nelson's is part of Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The site was the home of a trapper that lived there from 1936 for 38 years until his mysterious death. There are picnic tables, restrooms, and his preserved homes and grounds. Make sure you carry out all your trash.

Trapper Nelson's marks the beginning of the tidal estuary. You'll see the nature of the river change considerably as you enter salt water. It will broaden and majestic, knurly trees will appear on the banks.

In this area, you'll probably see more birds such as ospreys and sea birds.

When you see the state park canoe livery on the left bank, you'll know you're getting close to the exit point above.

Hopefully, you'll have time at the end to visit the park's observation tower and other facilities to relax at the end of a great paddle.