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The Peace River Canoe Trail in Southwest Florida

Peace River in Southwest Florida
Peace River in Southwest Florida
Public Domain, USGS

The State of Florida established the Canoe Trail System in the 1970's, which is made up of beautiful primitive rivers and creeks throughout the State. The public can use about these scenic waterways for canoeing, wildlife viewing, and related recreational activities. The waterways were selected for their quiet, pristine beauty, mostly untouched by civilization.

The Peace River Canoe Trail begins at the U.S. Highway 98 bridge, just east of Fort Meade and ends 67 miles downstream at State Road 70, west of Arcadia. The Peace River is an ideal waterway for canoeing and kayaking. Dense forest borders the waterway along most of the trail with the only mark of civilization being an occasional bridge, power lines and some pasture land. Rarely, a house is visible from the river.

It is a historic river which at one time marked the boundary between Indian Territory to the east and the white settler’s land to the west. One of the last skirmishes of the Seminole War occurred near the west banks below Fort Meade.

Phosphate was first commercially mined in Florida from the riverbed in the area covered by this trail. The river and surrounding forest have long since covered the wounds of the mining.

The river offers a variety of canoeing and kayaking experiences, since in places the river is squeezed into swift flowing narrows between high banks, some with occasional stretches of rapids. In other places it spreads into quiet shallow pools.

Numerous tributaries flow into the Peace River offering a variety of side trips for a change of pace and nature studies. The floodplain abounds in wildlife of all kinds from field mice to wild hogs. Waterfowl, herons, egrets, ibis, kingfishers, and many other kinds of birds are abundant throughout the course of this trail.

The trail takes a good two or three day unhurried trip to cover the entire 67-mile trail. Most private land which is closed to the public along this trail is adequately posted. Permission should be obtained from the owners if access to these lands is desired.


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