Dunns Creek, beginning at the northern side of Crescent Lake, 29°32’1.06″N, 81°33’24.15″W is a tributary to the St. Johns River. It flows northeasterly from Crescent Lake until it reaches the St. Johns River at 29°35’17.93″N, 81°37’50.55″W. The creek is located between the towns of San Mateo and Satsuma in Putnam County, Fl. Dunns Creek is rather wide for a creek, ranging from 275′ – 500′. The easterly side of the creek is populated for almost the last 1/2 of the distance, while the westerly side includes sandhills and wetlands. Among several protected species are the Gopher Tortoise – Gopherus polyphemus and Fox Squirrel – Sciurus niger. During the last century the area was used for turpentine logging, cattle ranching and farming. The numerous shell mounds shows evidence the area was inhabited by Native Americans.
River Details ~ Paddle Notes ~ Flora ~ Fauna
Location: Dunns Creek State Park is a Florida State Park, located approximately 15 miles south of Palatka, on US 17, 320 Sisco Road, Putnam County…see map below.
Launch points: The Kayak launch is located at the end of the entrance road once inside the park, just over 2 miles.
Paddle Distance: The entire river is 8 miles in length, starting from the North end of Crescent Lake and flowing into the St. Johns River Our paddle distance today was just under 4 miles.
Difficulty: Easy, though there is a lot of boat traffic on this river.
Average Paddle Time: On this particular trip we only paddled just under 4 miles and it took 1 hr 45 min. Our average paddle speed was 2.11 mph. There was a strong headwind as we launched and the wind was at our back as we returned.
Width and Depth: The river is over 500′ wide at the source on the St. Johns River and just under 500′ where it flows into Crescent Lake. In between it varies with sections 275′ wide.
Current – Tidal: Current was hard to determine on this particular trip as the wind was strong.
Side Paddles: No notable side paddles on this day.
Our paddle today was only a 2 mile section out of the 8 miles total. We launched from inside Dunns Creek State Park, with the launch being an accessible grassy/sand shoreline. The weather was cloudy with a chance of rain during our paddle as well as a strong Easterly wind coming down the creek . Heading southeast we stayed close to the northeasterly shoreline and this proved a good choice. We still hit pockets of wind but a good part of the time we were blocked and on our return trip back to the launch site the wind was mostly at our backs…which is a rare treat for us this Spring!
Keep your eyes open as you paddle near the shoreline. We were treated to numerous points of interest, one being the numerous snakes chilling out on the logs, plenty of birds, a few gators and turtles and many plants in bloom. The damage from recent Hurricane Irma was also quite visible with not only numerous downed trees, but several areas had the entire shoreline peeled back exposing soil and roots of large trees.
Trees: There is quite a diverse population in the tree canopy, with many large trees – Bald Cypress – Taxodium distichum, Swamp Bay – Persea palustris, Loblolly Bay – Gordonia lasianthus, Swamp Tupelo – Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora, American Sweetgum – Liquidambar styraciflua, Red Maple – Acer rubrum, Carolina Ash – Fraxinus caroliniana, American Elm – Ulmus americana, and Swamp Dogwood – Cornus foemina
Shrubs, Grasses and Flowering Plants: We were treated to several blooming shrubs and plants along the shoreline including Lizard’s Tail – Saururus cernuus, False Indigo Bush – Amorpha fruticosa, Broadleaf Arrowroot – Sagittaria latifolia, Bartram’s Airplant – Tillandsia bartramii , Pickerelweed – Pontedaria cordata , Virginia Willow – Itea virginica, Swamp Rose – Rosa palustris, Elderberry – Sambucus canadensis, Hedge Bindweed – Calystegia sepium, Willow Primrose – rufino-osorio, Bartram’s Airplant – Tillandsia bartramii, Spatterdock – Nuphar advena and Wax Myrtle – Myrica cerifera.
Shrubs, Trees and Flowering Plants – Gallery:
Wildlife: Most notable on this paddle were the numerous snakes that included the Florida Banded Water Snake – Nerodia fasciata pictiventris and a Bluestripe Ribbon Snake – Thamnophis sauritus nitae. As on most Florida rivers we saw the Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias, Cormorant – Phalacrocorax, a Baby River Cooter – Pseudemys concinna, a few Alligators – Alligator mississippiensis and we watched an Osprey – Pandion haliaetus catch his lunch and fly off to a nearby tree!
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