At King’s Landing, there are two ways to paddle.
And no, this is not located in Westeros, nor has very little relation to the (spoiler alert) fictional city that was destroyed in the last season of HBO’s megahit, “Game of Thrones.”
It is, however, one of the most popular paddle launch spots in Central Florida, and it allows adventurers, day-trippers, tourists and even weekend warriors to take two very distinctly different trips — while allowing for hours and hours of water exploration.
So load up your dragon — er, paddleboard or kayak, and get ready to set sail on one of the most beautiful destinations in Florida that’s free of any Lannisters and Targaryens, as well as the Iron Throne. It’s definitely worth the trip.
You know nothing
Most likely, one has heard a lot of talk or hype about King’s Landing. Especially if you’re an avid paddler. It truly is high on the list of places to launch and visit and explore.
In fact, King’s Landing is just the launch area, which offers an easily accessible dock, self-guided tours, kayak and paddleboard rentals and guided tours, too.
There is a small shop with some snacks and drinks, plus souvenirs or necessities, but bringing a lunch is recommended. Also, pets and tubes are not allowed.
However, once out on the water, King’s Landing allows access to Rock Springs Run, which is part of the Wekiva River — and its crystal clear, 72-degree, gorgeous freshwater, with 26,000 gallons pumped out of the ground every minute.
After a short paddle to Rock Springs Run, paddlers can take one of the two trips.
They can go left, which will take them 8 ½ miles on a self-guided day adventure, exploring the scenic turns and lush Florida tropical hammocks and wildlife. A shuttle will bring them back to King’s Landing.
Or they can turn right, which is going upstream, but well worth the effort because it takes you through the Emerald Cut on Rock Springs Run.
Blue meets bluer with this water, and it’s about 45 minutes upstream until a bridge barrier at nearby Kelly Park stops you.
After that, and enjoying the hangout area at the Emerald Cut, all one has to do is sit back and take the 30-minute natural lazy river all the way back to King’s Landing.
The things you’ll do for love
Rock Springs Run, with its Emerald Cut, is an incredible, but also incredibly popular destination because of its beauty, serenity and, of course, its location in regards to Orlando (less than 30 minutes) and the Disney World area (less than an hour).
So expect tourists, even in large groups. Which is not a knock on King’s Landing. Nor the tranquility and exceptional time one will have on the water.
It’s just a fair warning, as they’re open daily, even during the rainy season that sees the river rise quite high. And over time, some of the hurricanes that have hit Florida have made certain parts of the river inaccessible, especially on the 8-mile run downstream.
That, however, has helped to protect some wildlife, especially the fish.
As Littlefinger said on Game of Thrones, “Chaos isn’t a pit — it’s a ladder,” and the chaos of water levels and some weather destruction has only helped King’s Landing, Rock Springs Run and Emerald Cut climb that ladder.
Play this game and win
All television show references aside, King’s Landing is a must-see, and launch destination for any and all avid paddleboarders and kayakers.
It is on par with several other freshwater, spring-fed destinations, such as Weeki Wachee State Park, Three Sisters Springs, Seven Sisters Springs, Ginnie Springs and more.
However, King’s Landing has something that those don’t — more seclusion and less property intrusion, meaning through all those miles of serene paddling, lazy river floating and quiet isolation, there won’t be any structures or backyards and motor boats to ruin it.
It truly is a pristine destination, as if built for kings — and queens.
Where: 5722 Baptist Camp Road, Apopka
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily
Details: Considered one of the top paddling destinations in Florida, King’s Landing, located on Rock Springs Run, is part of the Wekiva River. It offers activities including self-guided rentals, adventure tours and nightly escapes. Paddleboarding and kayaking are common on the water, camping at the Eagle Boy Scout Camp and Wekiva State Park are options, too.
Info: Visit KingsLandingFl.com.
Published March 15, 2023