The W.P. Franklin Lock

By: Mike Hammond

One of the most underrated launch sites along the Calusa Blueway is the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam, which most locals refer to simply as Franklin Locks. It should not be overlooked.

Operated by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Franklin Locks is an ideal place to put in your paddlecraft directly onto the Caloosahatchee River in Alva.

There is a long grassy shoreline to launch from, or anglers with trailers can use the concrete ramp. Parking is free. I asked to be sure I heard the volunteer correctly: Parking is free.

The locks are positioned between two of our most popular creeks. Paddlers heading east will come to the mouth of Hickey Creek at about the 1.5 mile mark.  Telegraph Creek is less than a mile to the west. There are a few oxbows to explore in either direction. Both creeks are well known to local paddlers and should be on everyone’s list to visit. (Please review archived article for Hickey and Telegraph Creeks.)

Anglers may not want to paddle too far; however. The waters around the locks are well known for big snook, seasonal tarpon and a variety of other species. We saw several tarpon rolling on our paddle. Boats will often anchor just outside the roped off area. Please stay out of restricted areas for your safety.

With lots of shady picnic areas, bathrooms, a sandy volleyball court, playground and small visitor center, the site is the type of place where non-anglers can relax and recreate while the angler in the group has fun as well.

Franklin Locks is a well-run federal site with easy access, ample parking and proximity to popular creeks and angling. I’m not sure why it never seems to be crowded, but I’m glad it’s not.