Thursday, January 21, 2010

BOL Overview: Aucilla River

The Aucilla River:  A Potential BOL on Florida's "Nature Coast"

Florida's coastlines are not all tourist beaches and condominiums.  Much of the so called "Nature Coast" of the Big Bend section of Florida's Gulf Coast is undeveloped and sparsely populated.  There are good reasons for this, particularly the expansive areas of shallow water off this coastline and the lack of good harbors navigable by deeper-draft vessels.  The lack of long natural beaches here is another reason this area wasn't ruined long ago.  Unlike the panhandle area to the west and north, and the coastline south of Tarpon Springs, this part of Florida's Gulf Coast is mostly low and swampy, and broken up by the entrance of several sizable rivers, including the Suwanee, the Chassahowitzka, the Withlacoochee, the St. Mark's and the Aucilla.

Google Earth view of the swampy hardwood forests along the lower reaches of the Aucilla River

The Aucilla River is one of many good potential hideaways along this coast that could be accessed by shallow-draft larger boats and small vessels like canoes and sea kayaks.  In it's lower reaches this river flows through a sub-tropical hardwood forest that is about as jungle-like as anything you'll find in North America, complete with tall palm trees overhanging the waterway from the bank.  Back in the '70s and '80s when drug smuggling by fast boat was rampant in Florida, the remote estuary of the Aucilla was a favorite drop point.
Another view near the mouth of the Aucilla:

The Aucilla and other rivers in this area have a lot to offer for someone who can navigate them in a small boat, especially a canoe or sea kayak.  Camping conditions here can be tough due to mosquitoes, no-see-ums and other pests, but in this kind of environment, the woods are so dense and impenetrable that even a relatively small area can make a good bug out location.  Fishing will be good, as well as foraging for all sorts of aquatic animals and plants.  Just watch out for big 'gators and don't forget the machete if you plan to go anywhere off the river.  

The Aucilla River
Location: Florida's Big Bend section of the Gulf Coast east of St. Marks.
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