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Canoeing & Kayaking

Indian River Lagoon Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, Crawford Notch, Florida USA

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Copyright 2001 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Sally White with photos and added comments by
  • Date Submitted: 11/2001
  • Location: Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area along Crawford Notch on the Indian River in, Vero Beach Florida USA
  • Class: 1
  • Distance Paddled: Total of 3 miles round trip
  • Water Level: water level changes typically don't affect this paddle, though there are some tidal effects
  • Water: brackish
  • Wildlife: long legged wading birds, ibis, several types of ducks, egrets, pelicans, mullet, tree crabs, green heron, great blue heron, blue crabs, snook, red, black, and white mangroves and some 20 species of rare plants
  • Special Regulations:

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: Exit Interstate 95 onto Route 60 east. Proceed several miles to US 1 just before the causeway bridge over the Indian River. Take US 1 south several miles, past the botanical gardens on the east side of the road. Turn east onto Oslo Road (606) on the south side of the South Vero Beach Square Shopping Plaza and follow the sand road to the boat ramp at the end.
  • GPS: N 27 degrees 35.208' W 80 degrees 21.897'
  • Fee: none
  • Description: paved boat ramp with adjacent sand canoe/kayak launch
  • Parking: adjacent unpaved
  • Facilities: none, shopping plaza with fast food restaurants within a mile from launch site
  • Handicap Access: none

Exit to Portage

  • Directions: Enter the mouth of the creek about 200 yards north of the Boat Ramp on the west side of the Indian River. The wooden dock shown at right is about 50 feet inside this creek. Take your boat out here to portage about 50 feet over the trail to the interior creeks and lakes.
  • GPS: N 27 degrees 35.316' W 80 degrees 21.965'
  • Fee: none
  • Description: wood dock
  • Parking: none
  • Facilities: wood seats and a wildlife placard about manatees
  • Handicap Access: none

Portage Entry to Interior Lakes

  • Directions: About 50 feet across the trail from the dock is a sloped bank. We paddled westward from here.
  • Fee: none
  • Description: There is a wood platform that, unfortunately, was not adjacent to the bank. Some of us jumped to the platform to enter our boats from there. I enter my boat along the bank. But be careful, because the bottom is extremely soft and I sank down to my knee quickly when I accidentally stepped in the water.
  • Parking: none
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none

What We Saw

The 336 acre Olso Riverfront Conservation Area is on the north side of Oslo Road. It contains mature coastal hammock, flatwoods and impounded estuarine wetlands. The Indian River Lagoon Estuary is part of the Vero Beach-to-Fort Pierce State Aquatic Preserve and has been named an Estuary of National Significance by the federal government.

The area has abundant wildlife typical of the rich Indian River Lagoon, such as the tree crab shown at left.

After turning onto Oslo Road we stopped at the first parking area and enjoyed a short hiking trail that took us to the “largest slash pine tree in the world".

We then drove to the boat and canoe/kayak launch at the end of Oslo Road. After launching we headed north and hugged the shoreline along the mangroves in the Indian River Lagoon. If you look closely to your left (west) through the mangroves about 200 yards from the boat ramp, you will see the creek mouth shown at right leading to a canoe landing dock.

GPS: N 27 degrees 35.314' W 80 degrees 21.941'

This is one access to the hiking loop that extends around the Crawford Notch. From the canoe dock there is a hiking loop that will take you to an observation platform and observation tower. This is also the portage described above if you'd like to paddle the interior lakes and creeks.

Instead of portaging, you may also choose to paddle the mangrove creek just west of the dock. We took the creek to the left and it eventually looped around back to the creek on the right bringing us back to the dock. There was one branch where we took the channel to the right to stay on the loop. This route had the longest mangrove tunnels I've ever paddled! We were probably paddling under the mangrove tunnel a good half hour. And we also saw what appeared to be large catfish as well as the tree crab shown above.

It is another 1/4 mile or so before you reach the Crawford Notch. Watch out for the oyster beds as I ran aground a couple of times.

GPS: N 27 degrees 35.719' W 80 degrees 21.986'

When we reached the lagoon cove known as the Crawford Notch, which is completely surrounded by mangroves, the water was very still with the sun shining off it. It was an exceptional peaceful and relaxing paddle. We were the only ones there except for the many birds and mullet that several times I thought were going to jump right into our kayaks.

It is approximately 1/2 mile to the north end of the notch where we found another canopied channel through the mangroves parallel tot he shores of the notch. Along this channel you can see the hiking trail up the bank.

On the way back, once out of the notch, my husband decided for more of a workout and paddled around one of the spoil islands. The closer island is where our club had lunch on the nice beach shown at right. And we had the island all to ourselves.

GPS: N 27 degrees 35.270' W 80 degrees 21.520'

If you choose to take the portage described above to the interior lakes, you'll find a large lake with the tall observation tower shown at left on it. We landed boats near the bottom of the ramp up the tower and, with some difficulty, climbed over the rail and walked up the tower. We weren't able to find an easy landing point.

GPS: N 27 degrees 35.453' W 80 degrees 22.095'

We continued to explore other mangrove tunnels beyond this lake as well, where we saw a variety of wading birds.