Prairie Creek trip was a joy

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 10:49 p.m.
The paddle down Prairie Creek from Newnan's Lake to the Rochelle-Micanopy Road (State Road 234) isn't long, but it's beautiful. Many thanks to the volunteers who cleared enough of the fallen trees to make the creek once again passable; and thanks to the Friends of Paynes Prairie for dealing with the continuing trash problem.
The high water helps with the flow and finally drowned the dense growth that came to clog Camps Canal during the drought. My family of four did the Prairie Creek run in about three hours. We were sorry when it was over but not sorry enough to attempt the River Styx route to Orange Lake.
During our trip there were moments of wood stork-inspired awe, and equally memorable encounters of the more toothy variety. I hesitate to estimate the length of the biggest of the alligators.
With the leaves down, the views through the cypress swamps and across the prairies are splendid. Some of the cypress trees seem to be impersonating live oaks with their broad spreading crowns. The first red maples are in flower and yellow gessamine buds are about to burst. In a few months the blue flag iris will be in bloom, which is another treat.
Ichetucknee Springs is always a hit, and the Juniper Springs run in Ocala National Forest is wonderful. But Prairie Creek is right here in Gainesville and certainly worth getting your paddles wet.
Francis E. Putz, Gainesville

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