Launch: Cliff's Landing in Baldwin County off Hwy 225. Fee: Free. Route: North about 2.5 miles on the Tensaw River, then split right into Dennis Lake, then a quick right into Red Hill Creek, and back. Note: There is another “Red Hill Creek” located north of I-65. Today’s trip is on the one south of I-65. Distance: 10.9 miles round trip. Average Speed: 2.5 mph. Time: Approx 4.5 hrs. Pace: Slow. Weather: Temp into the 70s, partly cloudy, strong breezy winds out of the south – small craft advisory, which is why I chose to use a paddle kayak in a deep woods inland destination today.
(1) Above left. According to the Bug Guide, this spider is an Elongate Long-Jawed Orb Weaver. They are quite common on vegetation along the banks and frequently drop onto or into a kayak when twigs are disturbed. (2) Above right. This photo was taken while heading back to the Tensaw River after exploring one of the many river recesses.
(3) Above left. A turtle out of the cold water is enjoying the sun and warm air on this beautiful spring day. (4) Above right. The round eyes on this water snake are a sign that it is harmless. Want to learn more about snakes? Try the Florida online guide to snakes.
(5) Above left. Saw this four foot alligator in one of the many little offshoots on upper Red Hill Creek, where Golden Club was lining the stream banks. Like most reptiles today, this alligator was out soaking up the warmth. (6) Above right. Close up of the alligator’s head, zoomed in and cropped.
(7) Above left. Gelsemium sempervirens, aka Yellow Jessamine, was in bloom sporadically along the river banks. (8) Above right. Acer rubrum, aka Red Maple, also provided some colorful moments along Red Hill Creek.
(9) Above left. Wowzers! This was one of those moments where no photo will show you how big this alligator was. It was one of the biggest I've ever seen. (10) Above right. I backed up and turned around. This monster alligator had all of my respect because it looked like it was missing an eye. There is no telling what a big blind alligator will do in a narrow creek with an orange kayak. Click here for Croc/Alligator news links.
(11) Above left. This serene photo was typical of lower Red Hill Creek, which is still suffering from the gray leaf-less colors of winter. (12) Above right. On the return trip, the Tensaw River had turned nasty while I was in the tree protected creeks. The choppy waves caused me to put on the spray skirt and and the strong wind caused me to feather the paddle. I kayaked out in the middle on the way back, because all the speed boats were confined to the edges of the river. What a fun finish to a very memorable trip on Red Hill Creek.