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