We arrived at the Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost at 7:30am Saturday morning, checked in and loaded up our camping gear (we rented a canoe from the outpost) on the shuttle trailer and headed to the put in point for overnighters. This is where the Silver River and the Ocklawaha River converge. We chose to head up the Silver River for a couple of hours first. We are so glad we did... the river is beautiful, very clear, easy to navigate... just a relaxing trip. You have the option of going all the way to the head spring where the Silver Springs Attraction is (which I believe is a 3 hour upstream trip.) We chose to go up for an hour and a half and head back down to the Ocklawaha.
When you first hit the Ocklawaha River at the SR 40 bridge, there is a lot of trash from people walking to the river from the bridge and partying, fishing, whatever there... but don't worry the rest of the river is pristine. Absolutely gorgeous!!
The river winds, bends, turns on itself quite a bit. There are a lot of strainers along the way also. We enjoyed both of these elements as a little challenge is always fun. There are plenty of places to pick up the paddles and just float while you enjoy the scenery. Regarding the strainers...Joe (from the Canoe Outpost) checks the river constantly and always makes sure passage is available. He is very knowledgeable about this river... ask him anything and he can pinpoint it to the mile!!
Saturday we were on the river for about 7 hours. We stopped at one of the primitive campsites for lunch. We had our camp stove and made quite a nice little meal for ourselves. We arrived at the campsite we liked the best called High Bluff at about 4:00. We set up camp and enjoyed the solitude and beautiful river below us.
Sunday we were back on the river by 8am, made a quick stop at Gore's Landing (the only place on the river with any type of facilities)and then headed toward the Canoe Outpost. It probably took us about 5 hours paddling time.
Wildlife we saw along the way: we weren't blessed with a variety of critters but we saw... lots of gators (the further away from the spring you get the bigger the gators seem to get)~ wide variety of birds ~ turtles ~ fish.
We would highly recommend this trip to everyone. We personally feel that at least a little paddling experience would be wise before attempting this river. The only con we found is that power boats are allowed and in the early mornings they think they are the only ones on the river and come flying by. You have to be prepared. Most slow down and apologize as soon as they see you but there's always ONE, you know?? On that note I also just want to say... there wasn't a lot of power boats, they can't navigate the whole river because of the strainers... I just wanted you to be aware.
This link will provide everything you need to know...