What do you know about paddling in Florida?

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I have only tripped in that area once, between Horseshoe Beach and Cedar Key, and that was with folks familiar with the area. There were frequent sand beaches along the coast and occasional small islands just offshore, some posted/restricted and some not.

There were a lot of oyster bars, making many of the landing spots approachable only at high tide, and once you were there it was either a short respite and back in the boat or stay until the next high tide.

I have day paddled further north near Steinhatchee with similar oysteriffic conditions.

I know you are acquainted with the hazards of oyster bars, but for folks unfamiliar:

http://www.bobthompson.me/2011/09/apalachee-bay.html
 
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The Suwanee and especially the Santa Fe are flat out awesome rivers. So much history and a tremendous amount of wildlife and springs dotting the shoreline every few miles where you can take a break from the heat - including Ginnie Springs which is a pretty famous dive spot. You can start on the Santa Fe River all the way up at the US441 bridge near the town of High Springs and canoe all the way to gulf coast. The crystal clear Ichetucknee flows into the Santa Fe along the way and the Santa Fe keeps on flowing down into the Suwanee River. The Suwanee then flows into the gulf just north of Cedar Key.

You can make shuttle arrangements with the Canoe Outpost in High Springs. They are right on the river at US441. You can park your car there and the owner lives there at the dock so it's a pretty secure trailhead for your car. The outfitter will pick you up in the town of Suwanee on the coast and bring you back to High Springs if you want to do the whole river. It's about 60 highway miles from the town of Suwanee to High Springs. The river miles are of course longer because it winds it way to the coast unlike the highways. He doesn't list a price for shuttle services all the way from Suwanee but talk to him and work out a price.

If you do this trip make sure you stay at Manatee Springs State Park for a night. Awesome campground - especially in winter when the manatees hang out at the spring. If you have a chance, go for half day of tubing down the Ichetucknee. You won't be able to paddle up the Ichetucknee - it is too fast. But you can stash your canoe in the woods and walk about 2 miles to the state park and rent a tube and float back to your canoe. Ichetucknee has different parts of the river open depending on time of year. In Winter they close the northern half - which is the really pretty part of the river.

Also, if you do the entire trip - High Springs to the coast - Do a very very very slow float if you can. There is so much to see and so many springs to stop at - you don't want to rush it. You could easily make it into a 14 day float trip and never be bored.

By the way, if you do this trip in winter, you'll definitely need a wetsuit. The springs are cold year round - 72F water. You may want a wetsuit year round but for sure you'll need one in winter no matter how hot the air temp is.

hope that helps
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
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98
Location
Northern Wisconsin
Hillsborough River near Tampa Bay 2011:
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Quite a sight for a northern Wisconsin boy! I was hoping to get a glimpse of at least one. They were thick along the bank in my early morning paddle...about fifty to one hundred feet apart. The two above were on the same log.
 
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G

Guest

Guest
The Suwanee and especially the Santa Fe are flat out awesome rivers. So much history and a tremendous amount of wildlife and springs dotting the shoreline every few miles where you can take a break from the heat - including Ginnie Springs which is a pretty famous dive spot.

You can make shuttle arrangements with the Canoe Outpost in High Springs.

Agree on the awesomeness of those north Florida rivers. I’m hoping to get in a Suwannee trip this spring. We’ve used one of another of the Canoe Outpost locations for trips in the past.

http://www.canoeoutpost.com/

And Adventure Outpost in High Springs as well

http://www.adventureoutpost.net/

Ginnie Springs is an interesting experience. Every time I’ve paddled past it has seemed very busy, but having a diver emerge from a hole in the bottom of the river under the canoe was a unique experience for me.


You won't be able to paddle up the Ichetucknee - it is too fast.

8 or 10 years ago we paddled up the Ichtucknee from a private access below Rte 27 to the State Park. My sons were pre-teens in solo boats and it didn’t seem a struggle. Is the current more of an issue heading up from the confluence with the Santa Fe?
 
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Sep 2, 2011
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Last year we paddled up and down the Ichetucknee with no problem. The current was not very strong in the confines of the State Park. We did have a group of strong paddlers.

The one way float 3.5 miles was too short for our desires..so we did what we did to make the day longer.
 
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I'll have to try paddling it next time. Now I have an excuse to go back!
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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Raymond, ME
We are in Cedar Key. We wussed out island paddling today on the wide open Gulf with temps in the fifties and winds out of the north at 15. We will try again tomorrow though tonight will be frosty by FL standards at 32 F.

My gawd..low is low.. all those keys at high tide look like trees in the Bay of Fundy at low. So we paddled the Lower Suwanee past Manatee Springs State Park..low and behold there really were some thirty to forty manatees where the spring run joins the Suwanee. Yes we paddled in fleece...
 
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