(Review added 08/28/13, last update 11/15)
UPDATE (11/15) Turner Fish Camp had a fire a couple of years ago and went into bankrupcy. Altho the Tiki bar was usually open and they still let us launch there the facility was getting very rundown. In the spring of 2015 it was purchased by a local businesswoman who hopes to renovate the place and bring it back up to standard. If because of renovation work you can’t launch at the Fish Camp the public boat ramp is only about 3 minutes drive away.
Gum Slough (pronounced Slew) is a 4-mile long spring-fed tributary of the Withlacoochee (South) River near Inverness. It was designated an Outstanding Florida Water in 1989. Most of the surrounding land is public, owned by either Southwest Florida Water Management District or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There are two private homes at the Gum Springs main vent, one other home on another vent nearby, and one home on the run not too far from the Withlacoochee.
If it has not rained lately to churn up the water, kayaking this spring run is a pleasant paddle from spring to spring in crystal clear water. But you need to watch the water level. At low water levels you will be confronted by mass quantities of trees and branches to crawl over/scoot under.
There is a primitive campsite with picnic table and fire ring available just upstream from the Withlacoochee. You can get a permit to camp on this spot or at nearby Potts Preserve from Southwest Florida WMD HERE . If you camp at Potts, their “River Camp” is almost directly across the Withlacoochee from the entrance to Gum Slough and your reservation gets you the gate combination so you can take a vehicle to the campsite. The campsite pictured here is primitive and accessible only by boat.
Unless you happen to know one of the owners of those houses mentioned earlier, the only access to Gum Slough is by boat from the Withlacoochee River. You can put in at either the Turner Camp Rd public boat launch or at nearby Turner Fish Camp. The advantage of the later is that (for a small fee) you have restrooms for changing clothes and a cold drink waiting for you at the end of the paddle. From Turner Fish Camp you paddle downstream on the Withlacoochee approximately 0.9 miles and look for a definite creek entering the Withlacoochee on river right – that’s the entrance to Gum Slough.
Because the run is braided with several off-shoots and parallel (and sometime totally blocked) streams, this is one of the few paddles where I suggest you first go out with someone who is familiar with the run or at least carry a GPS unit and be prepared for an “adventure”.
Once back in the swamp it’s like entering a primitive Garden of Eden. There are times when you will be snaking through a narrow passage with over hanging branches and vegetation and other times when the waterway opens up to 50 feet wide. The feeling as you paddle is of primal beauty since there is virtually no road access and most of the time power boats and airboats cannot navigate up the stream.
On the way up the Slough you will be paddling against the moderate current and on the way back you will be paddling almost 1 mile against the current on the Withlacoochee. This out-and-back trip will take the better part of a day, especially if you are taking photos or miss the main channel and have to back track. Be sure to allow 6-8 hours for the entire trip.
0.0 Turner Fish Camp boat launch
0.3 Cross Tree, river left
0.6 Channel Marker 34
0.9 Entrance to Gum Slough, river right
1.0 Campsite, slough right
4.1 House, slough right
4.5 BBQ Spot, slough left
4.6 Gum Spring 5
5.1 Gum Spring 4
5.3 Gum Spring 3
5.4 Gum Spring 2
6.0 Alligator Spring run entrance, slough right (may be overgrown)
6.1 Pool area to slough right leads to Gum Spring 1
6.2 Gum Spring Main vent
Click HERE to download Gum Slough Fact Sheet with mileage chart and directions to launch sites.
Click HERE to download Gum Slough gpx file for your GPS unit.
Double-click to zoom in or use mouse scroll to zoom in and out. Drag to change location. Click on icons or river route for more info.