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A Scenic Saltmarsh Adventure

Unleash your inner nature lover

Slip into a front row seat to Nature’s Place to Play on the new Bayport – Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail. Launch your kayak, canoe or paddleboard and follow signs marking the 1.7 mile trip through this thriving coastal ecosystem. Have some more time? Make it a round-trip or take the turn-off and explore Redfish Bayou.

 

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Photo: FLSeagrant

As you explore these sprawling wetlands brimming with life, you’ll sweep past mangroves, cabbage palms and swaying sawgrass.

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As you paddle, listen to the quiet rustle of grasses, lap of water and calls of birds. Breathe the fresh air and look closely; so much surrounds you as far as the eye can see from your front row seat. Noise and sights of civilization seem far away.

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The Bayport – Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail winds through a special coastal ecosystem called an estuary. Like others, the Florida’s Adventure Coast estuary is a dynamic tidal area where water is alternately fresh and salty, dry and submerged.

Estuaries are referred to as “the cradle of the ocean.” Many fish and other animals have specially adapted to these conditions. The shallow water, sawgrass, mangrove roots and seagrass are excellent hiding places from larger predators.

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Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in nature. Here, springs and rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico, delivering nutrients from land.

As the tides interact with nutrient-rich freshwater, many fish such as snook, trout, grouper, redfish and sheepshead are born and thrive. Alongside the finfish in this tidal habitat are shellfish, birds and mammals.

Wildlife you might see

Estuaries are breeding and nesting areas, or rookeries, for many coastal birds. Look up and you may see pelicans, ospreys, hawks and bald eagles. 

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Some you might see along shores and mangroves include wood storks, herons, plovers, egrets and spoonbills.

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Others that call the waters of Florida’s Adventure Coast home are manatee, otter and dolphin. 

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Photo: UF/IFAS

Low tide reveals shorelines with oyster bars and scampering crabs.

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Hidden throughout the seagrass are summertime’s well-camouflaged bay scallops.

Try Paddling

Are you one of the millions of Americans in love with paddlesports? Rising in popularity every year, according to the Outdoor Foundation, 21.7 million Americans – 7.4 percent of the population – got on board with the pure pleasure of paddling in 2014. This amounted to 215.8 million annual outings. Easy, fun and flexible, kayaking proved the most popular among the paddlesports in the study, followed by canoeing.

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Stand up paddling continues to increase in popularity as well, surging from 1.1 million to 2.8 million users in five years. Learn how with unparalleled water adventures here in Nature's Place to Play.

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Many who enjoy the outdoors newly discover the fun of paddlesports each year. Among the top reported motivations for kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddling are to: get exercise, be with family/friends, observe scenic beauty, be close to nature and experience excitement/adventure.The new Bayport – Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail is a perfect place to pursue your love of nature and paddling passion.

Do it!

Bring your own kayak, canoe or paddle board. Don’t already have one? Purchase nearby at:  

WalMart

Precision Bait & Tackle

Dick’s Sporting Goods

  • Make sure all on board wear a life vest. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) requires that everyone operating a personal watercraft must wear a Type I, Type II, Type III or Type IV Personal Flotation Device. All should carry a whistle or other sound-producing device and a white light-shining flashlight as well.

Download this list of Operating Tips and Safety Regulations from Florida Marine Guide for reference.

Park in either Bayport Park or Linda Pedersen Park. Boat trailer parking fee is $5.

Don’t forget bug spray, sunscreen and sunglasses. Enjoy your scenic saltmarsh adventure. Visit again and again; nature changes and there are new sights to see everyday.

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