Category Archives: Crooked River

Map of Tate’s Hell State Forest

For rivers, creeks, campsites, roads and other references in the articles in Tate’s Hell State Forest see:  http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/27522/521772/TatesHellSF.pdf

This is a forestry brochure for Tate’s Hell. The map is on screen 3.  Hit “view” on your toolbar then “rotate” to rotate map.  Adjust  % (magnification) on PDF top bar to enlarge or minimize.  (For computer literate:  we are placing these directions for people like us, who grew up on typewriters. Humor us.)

This map does not include a handful of newer campsites, including Pidcock Road camp, which is to the east of Cash Creek Day Use (CC) on the river.

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Remember: Tate’s Hell is Florida’s second largest forest with 202,000 acres.  Blackwater River State Forest is the larges, with 220,000 acres.  This is why we wish to save these forests for the enjoyment and solace which wilderness can provide for future Floridians.

Tom Hahn Creek, Crooked River, Tate’s Hell State Forest

March 26, 2014

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River view of Rock Landing with 3 campsite: large, medium and small, the smallest being the most private. Day use pavilion. Unisex vault toilet. No water, no sanitizer.

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Site 1, the largest campsite (see stand-up grill, fire pit and table in back of lot), but close to public usage area.

 

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Camp site 3, no stand-up grill, and smallest, but most private of 3 campsites.

 

 

 

 

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Looking east on Crooked River where it meets the Ochlockonee about 4 miles. This is a favorite putting in place for motor boats.

 

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Better putting-in place for paddlers west of concrete ramp.

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First blue flag iris at Rock Landing, March 26, 2014.

Start at Rock Landing (3.5 miles west of loop campsite) on the Crooked River and paddle west.

Rock Landing is about  4 miles from the Ocklockonee River.  Crooked River has neither up-river nor down-river, tides come in through Ochlockonee River to the east  and from Carrabelle  River (New River) on the west.  It is an alternate trail  of the North Florida Circumnavigational trail.  Some paddlers go up two miles on the Ochlockonee  to Womack Creek Campground for a hot shower.

Tom Hahn Creek is 1 mile west of Rock Landing.   But before that,  .4 mile west of Rock Landing,  is a smaller .4 mile creek where we saw a yellow headed night heron.   There is more variety in plants and shrubs on Tom Hahn Creek, except there may be more open blooming iris and golden club patches on the first short branch.

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Golden club, branch .4 miles west of Rock Landing.

About .4 of a mile upriver on  Tom Hahn Creek the creek forks.  The fork to the right is about 1/2 mile long before thickets and low water may deter you.  The one on the left is about 1.1 miles log before you encounter real obstacles (there are overhangs and snags in the river toward the end).

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Spider lily near fork Tom Hahn Creek, Crooked River, March 26, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right now on the right branch and the shorter other creek,  golden clubs are blooming.   There are more blooming native pinxter azaleas on the branch to the left, swamp jessamine, lots of blooming titi shrubs and blackberry blossoms, but we saw no honey bees.   Fetterbush were blooming in one large bush on the longer branch.

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Titi all in bloom in both forks of Tom Hahn Creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Native pinxter azaleas in peak of bloom on left fork of Tom Hahn Creek, 3/26/14,

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Fetterbush, March 26, 2014, Tom Hahn Creek.

Expect in a few weeks blue flag iris and spider lilies.

 

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Parrotfeather or Brazilian watermilfoil on left branch of Tom Hahn Creek (in 3 places — this is the largest patch).  Non-native invasive plant.  Myriophyllum aquaticum.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The longer branch is wide at the entrance and narrows about 3/4 miles.  We saw more alligators here than any other creek in the last 2 days — 5 alligators.

On the Crooked River,  you may have tides against you or the wind or both.  Keep to the shoreline and you may escape the full brunt of any wind.

Once leaving Rock Landing there is no easy place for a pit stop.   On the Crooked River, the land to the north is Tate’s Hell State Forest, opposite lands are in private ownership.

Tupelo, cypress, pines, Florida maples are some of the trees you will see on the crooked river.  On the way back to Loop campsite east of Rock Landing, we stopped for 15 minutes to try to photograph a beautifully golden-capped prothotonary warbler in a shrub.   We were unsuccessful.  It seemed undeterred by us, but kept itself under tight cover.

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Back on the Crooked River, headed east to Rock Landing.

Camping on the Crooked River, March 25, 2014

 

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High tide at loop campsite, Crooked River, Tate’s Hell. March 25, 2014.

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Big enough site for more than 4 big tents.

 

 

 

We’ve always wanted to camp here, a cosy (but large site) right on the Crooked River, far away from the main traffic of the forest roads, yet less than 2 miles from the Womack Creek Campground if one wanted to get a hot shower.

We had paddled over 10 miles on Womack Creek, doing our weekly spring observation field work.  There were two sites at the Womack Creek campground filled — we were glad to see that people are finding out what a lovely place it is to camp.   But we had reserved this site (850-697-3734 – Carrabelle Tate’s Hell Forestry) — it is one of the most popular sites in Tate’s Hell — and we had it for one night.

It was predicted to get to the low 40’s, something which we could tolerate in our  40 degree stated, actual 50 degree, sleeping bags, but we brought along our 20 degree bag, just in case to use as a quilt — a luxury when car camping, not possible when kayak/camping.  We were hoping to do a 15 mile paddle the next day with headwinds expected on the paddle back.  We needed to get a good night’s rest.

We had brought along some of the heavy pine wood which a previous camper at Womack Creek had given us — we had used our scroungy pine logs and saved his.  We found out that it was heavy because it was green, and it took some coaxing and adding of pine cones, leaves & pine needles and dead branches to get the fire going.  Fortunately we had an ax with us and we split the logs so it would burn better.   In two hours we had a nice fire going, but we saved enough logs to have for the morning fire — 40 degrees can be cold right out of a warm sack.

Twilight at camp is always a nice time and coming in earlier to set up camp so one can relax at that time is one of the pleasures of being outdoors.  Facing the river, enjoying our hot drinks around the fire, one of us surveyed the trees across the river, enjoying the spring colors.  The other, fortunately was looking at the river.  A curious otter, fat and larger than any he had seen, popped his/her head out, didn’t like what he/she saw and gracefully dove under water.  The only part of the otter the tree-viewer saw was its back and glistening tail.

The wind brought chill, but the fire, once it got going, was sufficient to keep us there until 10.  These campfire sessions for two, when all good talk is exhausted, led us to start reading Shakespeare, which plays were but faint memories.  We did Julius Caesar last March at St. George Island Campsite, Romeo and Juliet in February, can’t remember which campground, we got bogged down on King Lear — probably not a good play for campfire reading — and Macbeth on October 31 at Florida State Caverns campground.  Hamlet was in the pouches of one of our car seats, ready for reading.

But it was a perfect night for taking in the whole of the place, a crescent moon just over the trees in the south, then a single star and then more as the night progressed.  No one was around, no boats on the river, no cars on the road, no sounds except the crackling of the fire.

Everything which would have been attractive to critters was put in the car for the night — the thin sliver of a moon leaving behind a starry sky for us to sleep under.

 

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The day broke over the river — what do they say about red sky in the morning?

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And the camp was slowly stirring.

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But a good fire got us started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But after the morning fire burned down, we set off for the  day’s paddle to a low incoming tide.

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