We were a group of 16 people of skill level varying from none-early intermediate. We had rented 9 single sit in kayaks, 2 tandem sit in's and one canoe from Adventure Outpost in High Springs.
The morning was bright, clear, sunny, and COLD. We had been having 85 degree highs for almost a month so, or course, the day planned for the trip had a forecasted high of 70. The air temp was only about 55 when we gathered at Adventure Outpost at 10:30AM.
Patsy and the crew quickly had us loaded up and shuttled to the put in near River Rise by the highway 27 bridge over the Santa Fe. After a very quick instruction we all loaded up and headed out at about 11:45. The water was warmer than the air but the air temp was going up quickly and the bright sunshine really helped.
The trip itself was mostly uneventful. We paddled past Poe Springs park and just HAD to stop at Lilly Springs to see Ed. My 6 year old son had heard us talking about Ed and insisted we go see Nekkid Ed. After a short(although longer than expected) visit with Ed, we saddled back up and headed on down to the take out at Rum Island Spring Park where Patsy and the crew were waiting for us. We were about 5 minutes later than our planned 2:30 arrival.
The river was slow and easy to paddle. We did hit one place under a power line crossing where there was some scraping and one boat (mine) got hung up. Nothing major, despite all the betting on how long it would take me to get back into the boat(<60 sec) and how many times I would fall doing so(0). There were a few long and shallow stretches that were loaded with vegetation and which made for some harder paddling.
The water was not as clear as it had been 3 weeks ago at Brasington's kayak demo day in Poe Springs park but visibility was still pretty good. There was a layer of pollen/scum on a few very slow stretches but that's nature.
The wildlife was out in force for the trip. We saw the customary hundreds of turtles, a few Great Blue Herons, a couple of Great Egrets, a Red Shouldered Hawk eating a snack on the bank, a wild turkey tom(I'm guessing a 25+ pounder from comparison to my hunting days in the distant past), and a couple of Kingfishers. There were plenty of fish jumping and we could watch the mullet stream by as well as occasional glimpses of bass and gar.
We only saw 2 other kayaks and 2 canoes on the trip although we did see 3 larger boats fishing behind trolling motors. I think the cold weather helped to keep the crowd down because this trip was during the local school's spring break.
Rum Island Springs park was busy with plenty of people swimming. This area was where we started to see more garbage in/near the water.
Adventure outpost: Outfitting shop, bathrooms.
Subway and Pizza Shop("Pepperoni's" - I really like it) right next door. A couple of additional restaurants nearby with two motor court type motels also close.
Put in at HWY 27 bridge: There's a dirt/gravel parking lot and a concrete ramp. That's it. It's only about 1.5 miles from High Springs and Adventure Outpost.
Rum Island Springs County park: Port-lets, gravel parking lot, concrete ramp.
Boat rental fees can be checked out on Adventure Outposts site. There were no other fees for our trip.
Poe Springs park(Alachua County) charges, I think, $5 in landing fees although the rumor is that they allow 20 minute stops for free. Ginnie springs is past Rum Island and I think there is a fee for there, although we didn't go that far.
Adventure Outpost: I-75 to Exit 399(FL) US Route 441. Route 441N about 6 miles to High Springs. Go through light in High Springs(Hardees on corner), staying on 441 about 1-2 miles until you see the Adventure Outpost sign on the left(there's a kayak hanging from the sign) and turn on the gravel drive. If you get to the Subway restaurant you have gone too far. The drive is just BEFORE the subway if you are headed north.
Highway 27 bridge: I-75 to Exit 399(FL) US Route 441. Turn left on Highway 27 just past the Chevrolet dealer(app 5 miles from I-75). Go through the stop light in High Springs, staying on HWY 27, until you cross the bridge(app 2 miles). The put-in is immediately across the bridge(west/north side) on the right.
Rum Island (Columbia County): Sorry, I just rode in the van back from here and I can't provide directions. The road from the park to county highway 138 is sand that was SEVERELY washboarded when were there. Very rough. It's passable, but don't have a full bladder or very low sitting vehicle.