We’ve listed some of our favorite places to explore by kayak in North Florida below. We’ve included information about access locations, length, what to expect, a bit of history, and what’s special.
Which are our favorites? Well, all of them, really, or we wouldn’t go back to them again and again. If you are looking for sheer fun our favorites are Juniper Creek and the Ichetucknee River. If you are looking for wildlife, especially bird photography, our favorites are the Silver River and the Rainbow River. If you are looking for swimming/snorkeling opportunities and exploring springs then it’s the Rainbow River, the Chassahowitzka, parts of the Santa Fe River and parts of the Suwannee River. For extended trips, especially if camping is included, then it’s the Suwannee River, Ocklawaha River and Withlacoochee River. Manatee watching? – go for Crystal River and Weeki Wachee. Try them all and find your own favorites!
NOTE: Some streams in Florida have a “No disposable container” rule. We’ve made note of these in our descriptions, but you should check with the local land manager before paddling to make sure because things can change. What “No disposable containers” means is that you need to pack your liquids in Nalgene or other hiking/biking type bottles and all food should be stored in tupperware-type boxes without excess wrappers. And this includes store-bought bottled water bottles. Many of the busier parks do cooler checks, especially during the warmer months and/or on weekends and holidays. Unfortunately we have seen people anxious for a day on the river turned back at several launches because they are toting soft drink bottles, bags of chips, and even granola bars for their trips. So – you have been warned!
NOTE: River mileage is generally measured down the center of a river using a motorboat or simply derived from printed/digital maps. Since kayakers rarely paddle down the center line of a river (and sometimes CAN’T paddle down the center line of a river) the mileages we give you are our actual miles paddled as recorded with a GPS unit. We HAVE removed most of the exploratory side trips we may have made – something we do frequently. We’ve done this for all rivers except the Suwannee. On the Suwannee we have used center-line river mileage so that our information corresponds closely with the many published brochures and books on the Suwannee River. Also, since high and low water can create significantly different routes (as can vegetation at different times of year) in most cases the mileage is based on the average of multiple trips over several years. We feel this will give you the most accurate rendering of what your mileage will be and a good idea of the amount of time it will take you to paddle each river.
NOTE: For each river we have included downloadable River Sheets in pdf format. (Click HERE to get your free pdf reader if you don’t already have one installed.) These sheets include a river mileage table similar to the ones on our river pages plus driving directions to the boat ramps and launches mentioned in the tables. Also for each river, in addition to the interactive map on the river page, we have now included downloadable gpx files for use in your GPS units. Even if you do not have a GPS unit you can view the files on a map on your own computer using free software. BaseCamp is one program which is available as a free download on the Garmin website. (Click HERE to get it.) From BaseCamp you can export into several other formats, including kml for use with GoogleEarth.
*** MORE RIVERS WILL COME AS WE COLLECT DATA FOR THEM ***
Florida Springs – download a GPX file with the location of over 1000 springs within Florida (original source FDEP)