Kayak & Canoe

Frog Creek: Tampa Bay kayak trail, one of best trails you never heard of

Frog Creek in Palmetto

Frog Creek in Palmetto. (Photo: Frog Creek RV Resort and Campground)

We’re happy to share a guest post today from Ed Higgins, co-author of “Paddles in Paradise” and “More Paddles in Paradise.” We asked him for a kayak trip that was widely accessible but not well-known, and we think he selected a kayak trail that you will add to your to-do- list.  It’s now on mine! Here’s Ed Higgins of www.paddlesinparadise.com


This is one of the best paddles you’ve never heard of because your launch point is behind a local campground in Palmetto. First you have to find the Frog Creek RV resort and campground, one of the coolest RV resort and campgrounds around. The resort is really not all that difficult to find and although campers are familiar with this campground, not many paddlers are aware of this hidden gem of a paddle located there.

What makes this paddle remarkable is that in one trip it encompasses two completely different environments; A beautiful canopied fresh water cypress and oak creek, as well as some open water areas along with tidal salt water mangrove tunnels.  

Frog Creek in Palmetto

Kayak put-in site on Frog Creek in Palmetto. (Photo: Deb and Ed Higgins)

When you enter the creek and paddle off to your right from the launch you enter very old Florida scenery and are surrounded by an overhanging canopy of cypress, oak, palms and a plethora of Spanish moss. There are several magnificent old Live oaks along the early part of the paddle which will make you stop and stare in wonder.

We first did this in April and along the way we saw a myriad of morning-glories, wild petunias and bright red fire bush. You will also see and hear many Florida birds, including Roseate spoonbills, herons, osprey and hawks.

About 25 minutes into the creek, you come to a large open water area where you see a change in the flora from old cypress and oak to salt water mangroves. You are entering Terra Ceia Preserve State Park, which is nearly 2,000 acres of wetlands, mudflats, mangrove forests, marshes, and tidal ponds. Along the way you can see several Indian shell mounds, some of which archaeological evidence dates to 8,000 BC.

Frog Creek and Terra Ceia Preserve State Park in Palmetto

Great Blue Heron on Frog Creek in Palmetto. (Photo: Deb and Ed Higgins)

You will now be paddling through some open and some narrow mangroves in a complete change of scenery from the first part of the trip. This is tidal water and although it was very shallow the day we did it, we had no problem. A high or slack tide would probably be ideal.

There are no houses along this paddle but you are never far from road noise, and the closer you get to the end, the noise increases. If you become unsure which mangrove tunnel to take, just head toward the I-275 road noise. There are also some ribbon markers along the way to help you stay on course and the RV resort will give you a trail map as well.

When you come to the two I-275 bridges go under them and head to the third bridge you see. The white steep bank you see directly in front of you is your takeout/turnaround point. You can do it either one way from the campground and be shuttled back, which is a 2.85 mile paddle, or as we did, paddle it both ways for a nice leisurely under-three hour trip.

Note: A shuttle service may or may not be available when you go. Check first.

This paddle is really the best of both worlds, and despite the fact that you can hear some road traffic from I275 along the paddle, you will very soon tune it out and enjoy where you are.

This is definitely the best paddle you’ve never heard of and a must do.

Frog Creek and Terra Ceia Preserve State Park in Palmetto

Frog Creek and Terra Ceia Preserve State Park in Palmetto. (Photo: Deb and Ed Higgins)

Directions to Frog Creek put-in at Frog Creek RV Resort

Take I-75 North to exit 228, (I-275 North) toward St. Petersburg. Take exit 2 off I-275 and merge onto US 41 N/S (Tamiami Trail). Drive for approximately ½ mile and turn left onto Bayshore Rd. Frog Creek RV Park is on the right.

After you arrive at the campground stop at the main office to pay the $10 launch fee or to rent a canoe/kayak. The kayak/canoe launch area is right around the corner and you can drive up to the creek and unload your gear before moving your vehicle to a parking area. It has an easy kayak launch area and there is plenty of parking although during the fall and winter season, it can get crowded with camper’s vehicles and the staff may direct you to alternate parking spots. (For a wilderness experience we always try to do our paddles during the week and out of season).  Renting kayaks at Frog Creek.

The park has a picnic area, restrooms in the main hall, and kayak and canoe rentals from the main office. If you wish to rent, reservations are not required but are recommended since they do not have unlimited rentals available.

Planning your trip to Frog Creek in Palmetto

Here is a YouTube video of the paddle from the RV resort:

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Frog Creek Campground, 8515 Bayshore Rd

 


Ed and Pat Higgins

Ed and Deb Higgins

Ed Higgins: Ed and Deb Higgins are authors of Paddles In Paradise and More Paddles in Paradise, each of which includes 25 great paddles from Ocala to the Everglades

Ed Higgins spent 32 years as a firefighter for the City of Lynn, Mass., retiring in 2008 as the chief of the department. He was an avid fisherman and canoeist when he wasn’t working, and was an instructor in the Aquatic Resources Program for the State of Massachusetts

Deb Higgins was a Certified Microsoft Engineer and performed various jobs within the City of Lynn Comptroller’s Office and the Lynn Fire Department; computerizing the fire department payroll as well as its accounting and record keeping systems.

Ed and Deb are retired and living in Punta Gorda, where they are the leaders of a kayak group within the Punta Gorda Boat Club.

“Paddles in Paradise” and “More Paddles in Paradise” are available for a discounted price on their website www.paddlesinparadise.com . They are also available at www.amazon.com and many local bookstores.

 

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