The Dora Canal is only a one mile canal linking Lake Dora and Lake Eustis, but may be one of the most beautiful miles you’ll ever experience.
The waterway connects Lake Dora and Lake Eustis in Tavares, just west of Mount Dora.
This is a short paddle so do it very slowly. Wildlife is abundant if you take the time to look.
On our last trip to the Dora Canal we saw alligators, herons, red-shouldered hawks, brown water snakes, egrets, and an amazing array of “Old Florida” flora, including some giant cypress trees that are reported to be 2000 years old.
When you the enter the canal you are transported back in time and you need to take the time to experience the beauty of the Dora Canal.
When you reach Lake Eustis turn around and slowly paddle back, absorbing the grandeur of Mother Nature.
It is reported that some of the filming for the movie “African Queen” was shot here, and it’s easy to see why.
How to make the most of kayaking the Dora Canal
At times there can be a lot of boat traffic in the Dora Canal, which can take away from the experience. You’ll need to Ignore it best you can, or better yet, go early in the morning before the tour boats start or late afternoon when the traffic wanes. Concentrate on the beauty around you, and before you know it, you’ll forget they are there.
Since this is such a short paddle, consider this for the first afternoon of a multi-day trip to an area with many great paddles nearby. This area is well worth an overnight stay to do multiple paddles. Consider the Wekiva River, the Silver River and Rock Springs Run.
Here’s my advice on how to do the Dora Canal: Drive up to Mount Dora and check in at your hotel (we prefer the Lakeside Inn and, no, they do not sponsor us.) Paddle the Dora Canal, then go back to your hotel for a swim and cocktails by the pool while planning your next day’s paddle before dinner out in downtown Mount Dora. After all, that is what recreational paddling is all about!
This is one of our Punta Gorda paddling group’s favorite overnight trips and we regularly have 40 to 50 people attend when we do it.
Dora Canal boat launch site
1001 Wells Ave, Tavares, FL 32778
When you get to Summerall Park in Tavares do not take the main park entrance on Wells Avenue, but go to the corner of Rose Avenue and drive into the rear parking area (closest to the boat ramp). You can unload kayaks there and park nearby as well. Paddle out of the short canal, turn left into the main canal, and enjoy your journey back in time.
FloridaRambler.com stories about visiting Mount Dora
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Ed and Deb Higgins are the authors of “Paddles In Paradise” and “More Paddles in Paradise.” Ed is a retired chief of Lynn, MA fire department. An avid fisherman and canoeist, he was also an instructor in the Aquatic Resources Program for Massachusetts. Deb was a Certified Microsoft Engineer with various roles within the City of Lynn Comptroller’s Office and the Lynn Fire Department, computerizing payroll, accounting and record-keeping. The couple retired and moved to Punta Gorda in 2008, where they lead a kayak group within the Punta Gorda Boat Club.