Lower Lake Lafayette: Kayak Tallahassee’s Hidden Swamp

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Lower Lake Lafayette: Kayak Tallahassee’s Hidden Swamp

Many people in our community may be more familiar with the Piney Z Lake than Lower Lake Lafayette, but the two are actually only separated by an earthen dam. WFSU’s Rob Diaz de Villegas heads out on the waters of both to explore the connection and the views that you can see from the water.

I’m smack dab in the middle of a lake, and I’m stuck in grass. It’s not uncommon to kayak through any Tallahassee lake and have to find a path through grasses, lily pads, and cypress stands. And of course our lakes get low. Lower Lake Lafayette, though, is easily the least open of our large Red Hills lakes. It feels much more like a swamp than a lake.

Leon County says as much in its water quality report for the lake: “Although pockets of open water are scattered throughout Lower Lake Lafayette, the ‘lake’ functions more like a wetland.”

You can see this in the map below. Google labels the lake’s open water “Lake Lafayette.” This is the area you see from the earthen dam separating it from Piney Z. Lake- where you cross when walking or cycling between JR Alford Greenway and Lafayette Heritage Trail Park.

Scanning right (east) from that open water in satellite view, you can see some blue channels and scattered pools of water in all that green. Much of the lake is under the cover of cypress trees, grass, or other vegetation. Kayaking in the fall, I’m seeing meadows of beggarticks and goldenrod right on the lake. And yes, I’m also pushing my way through thin channels in the grass.

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Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for television at WFSU Public Media, covering outdoors and ecology. After years of producing the music program OutLoud, Rob found himself in a salt marsh with a camera, and found a new professional calling as well. That project, the National Science Foundation funded "In the Grass, On the Reef," spawned the award-winning WFSU Ecology Blog. Now in its tenth year, the Ecology Blog recently wrapped its most ambitious endeavor, the EcoCitizen Project.

Rob is married with two young sons, who make a pretty fantastic adventure squad.