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The Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River

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Loxahatchee River

Loxahatchee RiverDip your paddle in one of Florida's most unique natural treasures.

Named "lowchow" (turtle) and "hatchee" (river) by the Seminole Indians, the beautiful Loxahatchee River is an 8.5 mile waterway located near the cities of Jupiter and Hobe Sound. It is one of two National Wild and Scenic Rivers in the state, receiving the distinction in May 1985. In addition, different portions of the River and estuary are also designated as an aquatic preserve, Outstanding Florida Water and a state park.

Plants, Animals and People

Unlike many other rivers that have seen development over the years, the Loxahatchee remains virtually unchanged. Along the river is a wide diversity of plant life including both tropical vegetation as well as temperate flora that can be seen up north. The narrow winding tea-colored waters are canopied for most the river by majestic cypress trees offering kayak and canoe paddlers a fun, unique and sometimes challenging experience.

The Loxahatchee flows through several different freshwater and saltwater habitats, each supporting a wide variety of wildlife. Along the banks it's common to see alligators, turtles, river otters, deer, raccoon, turkey, bald eagles, owls, heron, ibis, egrets, gopher tortoise, osprey, storks, scrub jay and many other species. Some of the more common types of fish include bass, panfish, mullet, snook, tarpon, red fish and jacks.

Loxahatchee River

The river has been home to Native Americans for millennia and European settlers for the last 300 years. One of the more colorful individuals in modern times was Trapper Nelson. His 1930s pioneer homestead lies along the river in a section that runs through Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The old cabin and former "zoo" make a great place to stop and rest. Beyond the state park the river meets the Atlantic near Jupiter Inlet.

Loxahatchee River Animals


Loxahatchee River

Paddling on the Loxahatchee ranges from very easy to moderately strenuous, depending upon your skills and the weather. Particularly after tropical storms you're likely to encounter trees cris-crossing the water, sometimes making you go over, under and around obstacles.

You can read more about paddling experiences on the Loxahatchee on the Park Boating, Cypress Canopy and Jonathan Dickinson State Park pages.

Loxahatchee River Timeline- Thanks to South Florida Water Management District

3000-750 BCE Early Indian encampments constructed along the Loxahatchee River.
750 BCE-1750 CE Villages and middens constructed near the River.
1696 Jonathan Dickinson shipwrecked on Jupiter Island.
1800s Seminoles name the river "Lowchow" for "turtle" and "Hatchee" for "river".
1850s Loxahatchee River known to locals as "Jupiter River".
1886 Walter Kitching family purchases land for $1.25/acre.
Early 1900s Construction of the Florida East Coast railroad trestle bridge with filling of surrounding submerged lands.
Mid 1930s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge the lower estuary.
1947 U.S. Army Base "Camp Murphy" deactivated and state acquires the property to create Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
1968 The State acquires land purchased by Trapper Nelson during the 1930s and established his home and grounds as an interpretive site.
1970 Loxahatchee River-Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve established.
1985 Pristine portions of the Northwest Fork are designated as a Federal and State Wild and Scenic River.
2000 Projects underway to restore hydrology in the Loxahatchee Slough, Kitching Creek, Cypress Creek, and to enhance freshwater flow to the Northwest Fork

Want more? Read about Trapper Nelson's place at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.