A huge reason for us moving to St. Johns County six years ago was the proximity to water. As I started applying to jobs while wrapping up my last semester of grad school, my only criteria for Florida locations was that it had to be on or near the coast. When I received a job offer in St. Augustine, the decision was easy. The St. Augustine area is an overachiever when it comes to natural water access – we have beaches, inlets, creeks, and the St. Johns River. Where do I sign?
We moved to St. Augustine in May of 2014 and I started my new job one week after graduating. My first major purchase with my first big-girl paycheck was a kayak! It was a beautiful red-fading-to-yellow 12-foot sit-on-top fishing kayak. I remember I had to meet the delivery guy on my lunch break and he unboxed it in the living room for me so I could admire it for a couple of days. I was eager to explore the area waterways with my then-new fiance (he had proposed on graduation day!).
Since then, kayaking has been one of our go-to weekend adventures. We each have our own single-person kayak and a tandem one so that friends or family visiting can join us. We’ve had several years to sample the area waterways, and have compiled the following list of our three favorite kayaking spots within St. Johns County.
Trout Creek is our go-to kayaking location in the county. Trout Creek is a feeder to the St. Johns River. You have the option either paddling south to the St. Johns River or you can go north up the creek. We prefer to paddle north since there’s less of a chance of encountering larger boats and generally has less traffic. Paddling north, the creek narrows down after about half a mile to a mile is just beautiful with greenery, trees, and wildlife. We usually go under the bridge for 16A where it really narrows down and you are surrounded by preservation and conservation areas on either side. If you avoid going during the middle of the day, there is quite a bit of shade along the route. The current is not too strong, so making the trip is generally an easy paddle and takes about an hour and a half to two and a half hours, depending on your pace.
We set in at Trout Creek Park located at 6795 Collier Road. Trout Creek Park is a public park managed by St. Johns County and is free to all visitors. The park features a double boat ramp with an accessible boardwalk bordering the canal and the ramps. The park also has permanent restroom facilities (bonus!) along with a covered picnic area with a grill.
Anastasia State Park
If we’re looking for more of the beach and coastal kayaking experience vs. the river and creek-like experience of Trout Creek, we head to Anastasia State Park. Anastasia State Park has an estuarine tidal marsh called Salt Run to set your kayaks in. There are also rentals available here if you or your visitors need to rent one! Salt Run was our favorite place when were just starting out kayaking and is my number one recommendation for beginners. It’s a great place to practice without feeling too out in the open waters while also getting the beach experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take Salt Run north to the Matanzas River and then west through the St. Augustine Historic District. This route also takes you by the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
There is a fee to access Anastasia State Park ($8/vehicle).
Located along the southern border of the county, Pellicer Creek is another one of our favorite locations. Pellicer Creek offers a calm, pristine paddling experience through a salt marsh and offers a different type of scenery than the St. Johns River/Trout Creek or the coast. The paddling trail ranges from wide to narrow and is lined with marsh grasses with limited shade opportunities. The current can be strong along Pellicer Creek, so be prepared for some paddling!
There are many more paddling opportunities throughout St. Augustine and St. Johns County. These are the ones that my husband and I can’t stop going to! Which ones are your favorites?