The Ichetucknee River runs from the crystal clear head springs south for 6 miles, 3 and 1/2 miles of which are located within the Ichetucknee Springs State Park boundries. Our afternoon trip was during the off season for tubing--in fact, we only saw 8 tubers, all of which were located south of the mid-point dock. During the summer, this river becomes clogged with tubers.
As instructed by the recording on the other end of the line when we phoned the park for information, we went to the North Entrance to put in. The current flows at 1 mph, so we floated gently down the river to the south end of the park to the tuber take-out (3 and 1/2 miles), turned around and paddled back up stream. The entire, leisurely trip took approximately 5 hours. The water is crystal clear and a cool 72 degrees and the river passes through areas of forest as well as more open areas of marsh surrounded by forest. Our trip was made on a perfect, sunny, 80 degree Florida late winter day. We saw at least 10 different bird species and numerous turtles, and a few squirrels. There must be a shooting range in the near distance around the mid-point in the park, as we kept hearing gunshots every minute or so. Otherwise the paddle was very peaceful.
Next time we go, we plan to put-in at the park's southern entrance, paddle upstream and float back.
Restrooms located near the head springs were closed. Restrooms near the southern entrance to the park were relatively clean. There is no camping inside the park, but there is a private campgrounds with a small convenience store near the north entrance of the park. No food stuffs or disposable items are allowed on the river.
$5 per kayak/canoe
From Fort White, Florida, follow the signs at the "main intersection" (it's a very small town). Going north on State Road 47 from Fort White will take you to the northern entrance to the park. Watch for signs that direct you to turn onto State Road 238, to your left. Once traveling west on S.R. 238, watch for the park entrance on your left. To get to the southern entrance to the park, travel west on US 27 from Fort White, again watch for the park signs. The southern entrance is on the right-hand side of the road. During the summer, if you see venders renting tubes, you know you're in the right area.
The park encourages use of the North Entrance for kayak and canoe put-in near the head springs. Downstream, Mid-point Dock is used for tube put-in only, but not much further downstream is Dampiers Landing Dock (a take-out and put-in spot). There is another take-out/put-in location near the park's South Entrance. According to our guide books and maps, those that wish to continue down the river past the park boundries, may paddle another 6 miles to the next takeout point on State Road 129, which requires paddling down the Sante Fe River for 4 miles after the Ichetucknee River joins the Sante Fe River.
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)