Paddling in Lake Bradford & Beyond

By Harry Smith

Lake Bradford is located on the Southwest side of Tallahassee, adjacent to the Tallahassee International Airport. On the most southern portion of the lake lies the Florida State Reservation, or the “rez”. It’s a popular spot among FSU students to rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and even sailboats to explore the wonders of Bradford. For a small fee, it is also opened to the public. It’s a great spot to begin the journey.

My favorite way of exploring any Florida waterway is via kayak, and Lake Bradford has much to explore! There are a few houses situated on the lake itself, and with the rez also there, it sometimes becomes a bit crowded. That’s when I head north into Lake Hiawatha through a lovely cypress tree-lined corridor that glides past the Tallahassee Museum, where, if you listen closely, you may hear the cry of the panthers, gobbling of turkeys or even a yawn from the black bear. These sounds seem appropriate amongst the jungle-like setting.


Lake Hiawatha isn’t far enough for me though. There is a small channel located on the northwest portion of Hiawatha. Find it and you’re on your way to my favorite part—Lake Cascade. But first, you must cross under Capital Circle and work your way through the tannin-rich water and cypress swamp. From here you can follow the lake around and keep heading north or take a left and head back southwest. Either way, you’ll enjoy exploring and meandering through the dense cypress swamps.

Although by now you’re mostly away from the road noise, but silence will still be broken with the occasional low-flying aircraft that is coming in for a landing or taking off, from the nearby airport. Some find this to be a nuisance, but it makes for a cool experience and some interesting photo opportunities.

Check out the FSU Reservation and then set off for an adventure to Lake Bradford and beyond! If you’re looking for a guided trip through the Bradford chain lakes, I am available HERE. Oh, and one more thing, it’s a good idea to bring along a rod & reel!

Harry Smith
Harry Smith Outfitters


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