Florida's Epic Paddle: The Suwannee River
Take a trip into Florida's past along this legendary waterway.
For centuries people have been attracted to the dark waters of the Suwannee River. Spanish explorers encountered Timucuan Indians along the Suwannee in the 1530s who considered the waters a sacred place. The mineral-rich White Sulphur Springs has served as neutral ground for different Indian tribes and is said to possess healing powers. Later as steamboats traveled down the Suwannee River the legend of the healing properties of White Sulphur Springs brought travelers to the area essentially creating Florida’s first tourist destination. The Suwannee River is immortalized in song by Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home” – although he never traveled to Florida to see the river for himself. Too bad for Mr. Foster.
You can experience the history and natural beauty of the Suwannee River – and feel transported back in time – by plying the waters on any number of scenic day paddling trips or extended journeys of up to 170 miles along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. The Suwannee River boasts a multitude of deep crystal clear springs that churn out millions of gallons of water daily – perfect for spontaneous side adventures on your paddling trip. The waters and surrounding lands provide habitat for a tremendous amount of diverse plant and animal life making the Suwannee a nature lover’s dream.
Day Trips on the Suwannee
Got a few hours to spare? Get a taste of this majestic waterway on a day paddling trip. White Springs is home to American Canoe Adventures where you can create a custom trip and catch a shuttle to and from your route. You can also purchase your own watercraft from American Canoe Adventures which might be a good idea as paddling on the Suwannee River can be habit-forming. Make sure to check out Florida’s only Class-III whitewater (during periods of high water) at Big Shoals State Park but be prepared to portage this area if you aren’t comfortable in turbulent fast-moving current. Bring along your camera sunscreen a snack and some water – and prepare to get away from it all.
Extended Trips on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
Be warned. Day trips on the Suwannee can leave you wanting more time to experience and explore the river. If that’s the case then set out for the adventure of a lifetime along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail which provides paddlers with an extensive network of hubs and river camps along its 170-mile route. Hubs are towns and parks along the route that can be used for resupply or other services needed while on your trip. In between these hubs are river camps complete with raised screened-in shelters bathrooms and showers. Primitive camping spots are also available at these locations as well.
If You Go
Before setting out on day or multiday paddling trips be sure to inform others with a travel plan. The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail has an official form to place on the dashboard of your vehicle before setting out on your trip.
For more information on the Suwannee River or the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail visit www.suwanneeriver.com or call 800-868-9914.