This guest post was written by Ed and Deb Higgins, authors of “Paddles In Paradise” and “More Paddles in Paradise,” who live in Punta Gorda and lead a kayak group within the Punta Gorda Boat Club.
Deer Prairie Creek is a beautiful, scenic preserve especially suited to paddlers who want to go back in time.
This creek, a tributary of the Myakka River, is among our favorites. It is pristine, quiet and shaded, with loads of “Old Florida” charm.
Kayaking Deer Prairie Creek, you will meander through bends and turns at such a quiet and leisurely pace that you’ll feel like time has stood still.
Alligators, birds, wildflowers and the sounds of the breeze whispering through the trees will bring you several hours of paddle heaven.
It will be less than three to four miles before you run out of water or reach impassable areas. It is such a great paddle you will want to do it again and again.
Directions to Deer Prairie Creek Preserve
The unpaved road to the kayak launch at Deer Prairie Creek runs north off Route 41 (Tamiami Trail). The entrance sign is hard to spot.
If you’re coming from the north on 41, it’s a half mile south of River Road. From the south, you will pass “Warm Mineral Springs” on your right. From the Warm Mineral Springs sign proceed 1.5 miles and look for a white shell unpaved road. Once you turn into the road, the entrance sign is visible set back by the entrance gate. Follow the road all the way to the end to the parking lot. On the way in you will see a “canoe/kayak launch” sign. Do NOT stop there but drive on to the parking area at the end of the road.
Where to launch for kayaking Deer Prairie Creek
You put in through the gate at the left corner of the parking lot just above the dam into a small lake. If you put in at the canoe/kayak launch, you will be below the dam, and that is another paddle for another day.
This is an out and back paddle and it is impossible to get lost. Just head to your right after launch and expect to see luscious flora, wildflowers, birds and possibly a gator or two.
The biggest downside here is that there is only a port-a-potty for a bathroom facility and it is not always serviced very well. There is a nice picnic area near the lake where you start your paddle.
There are no kayak rentals at this site.
Deer Prairie Creek
10201 South Tamiami Trail
Hiking at Deer Prairie Creek Preserve
The creek forms one border of the 6,500 acre preserve, which has 70 miles of unpaved trails. The preserve has a variety of habitats including pine flatwoods, prairie hammock and seasonal wetlands. Some trails offer scenic overlooks along the banks of the Myakka River and Deer Prairie Creek.
The trails are also popular with equestrians. Equestrian parking and trail access is from the north entrance at
7001 Forbes Trail, Venice FL 34292
Trail map for Deer Prairie Creek Preserve
More kayak trails nearby
Near Fort Myers and Punta Gorda:
- Cabbage Key: Authentic island for kayaking, history
- Manatee Park & the Orange River: Fort Myers kayak trail ideal for winter day
- Fort Myers Bunche Beach: Heaven for kayakers, birders
- Matlacha Pass Preserve: An artsy town is gateway to nature-filled paddling trails
- Telegraph Creek: Worth discovering and not just for the llamas
- Cayo Costa island: A remote, romantic getaway that is wild Florida at its best
- Port Charlotte sea kayaking: White pelicans & mangrove mazes
- Kayak Sanibel, Captiva: Where to go to enjoy wildlife & beauty
- Peace River in Arcadia: Florida canoe trip is an easy adventure
- Calusa Blueway is kayak guide to Lee County with maps and markers
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning visits.
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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.