3301 Homeland-Garfield Road
Bartow, FL 33830
Heritage Peace River Landing is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to the boat launch and fishing pier, the park has a picnic shelter and parking lot. No restrooms or other facilities. Admission is free.
The site is easy to miss so be alert for the entrance which is on CR 640 just east of the bridge (signage reads "Landing"), then head south to the launch. Watch for traffic.
There are navigation hazards in this section of the river (several rapid-current areas/downed trees), and although this was designed as a canoe/kayak launch, it's a public site and any boat that can get in and out (there’s no ramp) can do so at own risk.
NOTE: Prepare to take twice as long to return upstream as it took to go down.
It was a glorious October 24th morning, even a little nippy (warmed up later - it is Florida, after all). We started paddling around 11a and headed north of the put-in toward the bridge at Homeland-Garfield Rd…we fell a tad short of our destination due to time constraints but got back within 3 minutes of our deadline.
We were surprised to find ourselves in a very strong current that took a little extra maneuvering skill than we had expected. As other venues I have photographed testify, that made for far less snaps than I am used to getting.
There were many water birds - including Little Green Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great White Egrets, Tri-Color Herons, and Ibises. Unfortunately, I was not able to get any good shots. Most disappointing was not being able to capture my favorite - Roseate Spoonbill - at the end our our trip. Very glad to have seen it, though…really nice exclamation point on an interesting tour.
We heard a lot of great sounds, too. At one point, breaking the silence, was this bellow from the near inland - a very distinct cow’s moo. Our various feathered friends chimed in, and the crackling of twigs let us know we were never alone, despite being the only humans on the water this Monday.
Though it was the shortest ride I’ve made in my yak, it was a lovely 4+ hours on the water spent with my ex-work-hubby/friend/ex-neighbor/hair stylist. And it won’t be the last we paddle together.
As for the venue, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars for my tastes, but if you’re in it for the exercise as well as the view, it’s a 5 for sure.
© April L. Gustetter