Santa Fe Canal – Aug 2018

Santa Fe Canal – Aug 2018

Santa Fe Canal Entrance
Santa Fe Canal Entrance from Lake Alto


The last time we paddled the Santa Fe Canal was in September 2017, almost one year ago.  We revisited the canal on August 4th 2018. This post is an update to the original paddle which can be viewed here.

Canal Details ~ Paddle Notes ~ Flora ~ Fauna

Canal Details:

Location IconLocation: Santa Fe Canal runs between Lake Alto, just East of Waldo at, 29° 46′ 11.4″ N, and Little Santa Fe Lake, north of Earlton at 82° 07′ 24.3″ W.

Kayak Launch IconLaunch points: The Kayak launch is located at Lake Alto Park, 17800 NE 134th Pl, Waldo, FL 32694, open 24 hours, (352) 374-5245. This is a nice park, with a good boat launch.


Distance IconPaddle Distance: The one-way paddle, from the launch to Little Santa Fe Lake is 2.5 miles, making this a 5 mile round trip run.


Duration IconDifficulty: Moderate to difficult depending on the water level and downed trees. There were several trees across the canal on this trip which took some agility to squeeze under.


Duration IconAverage Paddle Time: Normally we average a little over 2.5 miles per hour and on a river with a good flow more than 3. The canal presents several obstacles, at least on this trip and with maneuvering the fallen trees we average about 1.75 miles per hour.


Width Depth iconWidth and Depth: The canal averages 30′ – 35′ wide and about 2′ – 5′ deep.


Current tidal IconCurrent – Tidal: Current is minimal, at best below 0.5 mph


Side Paddle IconSide Paddles: No notable side paddles on this canal.


icon-restroomsRest Areas: There are few areas to stop along the way to go to nature’s call. The best places being in the last half where the banks are steeper and provide a somewhat minimal opportunity to exit your kayak. Best to use the restroom facilities at the launch.

Paddle Notes:

Water levels about 2′ higher than 2017…

Santa Fe Canal Paddle Map
Santa Fe Canal Paddle Map

As in our previous paddle a year ago, we put in at Lake Alto Park on a sunny Saturday morning. It wasn’t obvious at first, in fact not until we had paddled out into Lake Alto and reached the entrance to Santa Fe Canal a little over a half mile along the Southeast shoreline.

Unlike the paddle last year many of the fallen trees, submerged trees and overhangs that have to be maneuvered were not there. We did have at least 2 trees we had to slide over the top, one, requiring a little more effort than the other but not a major problem.

The Santa Fe Canal
The Santa Fe Canal

As the canal passed through the large Santa Fe Swamp it was obvious, looking along the north side of the canal, the water level was higher. Also what was noticeable was the absence of large areas of duckweed.  We did paddle through one section with duckweed however the higher water level and swifter current kept the main passage relatively clear.

There was much more shrub growth in certain areas prior to reaching the mid-point with the steeper banks exposing roots from gorgeous Oaks and Cypress. The canopy is cooling and refreshing.

As if looking to the light at the end of a tunnel, Santa Fe Canal enters Little Santa Fe Lake. Lined with Cypress trees this was the perfect spot to tie the kayaks and take a break.

Lush growth on the Santa Fe Canal
Lush growth on the Santa Fe Canal

After a nice break, we headed back through the canal, into Lake Alto and our launch site. Santa Fe Canal is not what you call an outstanding Florida waterway, but it is one to do just for the trip into the history of this area. This paddle ends another chapter of Florida Paddle Notes


Oaks over Santa Fe Canal
Oaks over Santa Fe Canal

There is quite a diverse population in the tree canopy, with many large trees – Bald CypressTaxodium distichum, Swamp Bay – Persea palustris and Live OaksQuercus virginiana among others.

The water was predominantly bordered in Maiden CanePanicum hemitomon and Duck WeedLemnoideae spp.



Wildlife: On today’s paddle I was only able to see a couple of Egrets and Herons, however we encountered several wasp nests in the overhanging brush.

Egret and Heron on Santa Fe Canal
Egret and Heron on Santa Fe Canal