Day Trip Destination: Telegraph Creek

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Telegraph Creek is a tributary of the Caloosahatchee River, located in Alva, Florida. An excellent day trip destination from the Fort Myers area, visiting paddlers will be rewarded with wildlife sightings and unique forest views. We chatted with avid paddler Emmett Horvath to learn more.

Tell us about Telegraph Creek. What is the ecosystem like, is it accessible to beginners, and is there wildlife to look for?

On Telegraph Creek, paddlers will be surrounded by temperate deciduous forest. Trees line the banks, and the foliage and brush get denser the farther upstream you travel. Large oaks extend out over the creek, with tendrils of Spanish Moss hanging down. The shade provided by these trees, combined with the seclusion of the creek, give it an almost magical quality. With slow waters and ample shade, the area is appropriate for paddlers of all levels. Watch for turtles, birds, alligators, and snakes. There’s also a farm along the way with llamas, zebras, and bighorn sheep!

How long is the paddle, and is there a route you recommend?

The paddle can be as long as you want it to be. If you follow the creek to the left from the launch point, upstream, I recommend paddling until you run out of time or get tired. On my last visit, I paddled for about an hour and a half into Telegraph Creek Preserve, had a picnic lunch, then returned, for a total trip time of about three and a half hours. 

Do you have any other helpful tips for paddlers making the trip?

There aren’t many amenities nearby, so come prepared with food, water, and any other supplies you might need. If you know yourself to be allergic to poison ivy, I would recommend caution if you choose to exit your craft while on Telegraph Creek, especially after entering the preserve. Another recommendation would be to take bug repellent during the wet season – there are mosquitoes!

What is the best way to get there and launch your vessel?

Head up to exit 141 on 75N, then hop on FL-80E for a couple miles and take a left on SR-31. After a few miles on SR-31, take a right on FL-78E/North River Road. The launch site is about four miles down North River Road (if you have a GPS you can have it direct you 15700 North River Road, the closest address). It’s right next to a small bridge over Telegraph Creek. If you pass Traverse Rd. on your right, you've gone too far. On the right side of the road, before the bridge, the shoulder is wider and there is plenty of space to park. There is a fence around the abutting property with signs posted stating "No Trespassing" and "No Parking", but as long as you park on the shoulder and not on private property, you will be fine. Grab your watercraft, paddles, and other gear, and head over to the bridge, where there is a little sandy beach to put in on the right side.

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