Zenfolio | April L. Gustetter | HILLSBOROUGH RIVER - Harney Rd., Tampa, Fla.

57 photos

The Harney Canal (C-136) runs from the Tampa Reservoir to join the second and longer canal, C-135, which connects the Hillsborough River at Trout Creek and Palm River. Both canals control flooding in the city of Tampa.

For the record, this is NOT a good kayak put-in...it is overgrown and steep. But, on this day, I was feeling adventurous, and launched from the tiny piece of cleared land (just wide enough for my yak) to make my way up the Hillsborough River toward the Temple Terrace Highway overpass and beyond. Round trip, I paddled about four miles, stopping many times for photos, and on the way back, for shade. Along the way, I spied ducks, turtles, ibises, a little green heron, and a number of beautiful homes, to name a few of the wonderful sights. During the four hours I spent paddling these waters, I did not see another human on the river...the solitude was glorious.
After putting in, I paddled south for a bit, then circled around for my northern destination.A perfect day, long overdue, I reveled in the peace and beauty that was before me.Spotting the water's edge were lovely homes, most of which had some version of a dock...A splash of color and a quick getaway by canoe...life is good.The majestic cypress trees made for astounding environs...and later, much needed shade.As I glided slowly, I noticed this little creature resting...I almost missed it.The homes were amazing along the shore, but this treehouse really intrigued me.What a remarkable palette I had to paddle through.Look closely at the water...a 'gator was preparing to come up...and did, right next to my yak.This dock was built around the tree. And the landscape of this home was gorgeous.All along the river were these coves of enormous cypress trees...it was like being inside a castle.The nubs at the base of these cypress trees are called "knees"...The function of cypress knees is debated. Some think they help provide oxygen to the tree......others believe they assist in anchoring the tree in the soft, muddy soil.Coming out on the other side of the cypress coves was like entering another world.The base of some of the cypress trees I passed were easily 10' in diameter.Geological data suggests that the Hillsborough River has been flowing for about 27,000 years.Historical evidence indicates humans first made their way to this area 12,000 - 15,000 years ago.In the late 1700s, the land along the Hillsborough River was covered by a rich, old growth forest.Majestic bald cypress trees were thousands of years old.