I and my favorite paddling companion (these past 25+ years) decided to explore the Oklawaha River and Silver River on a balmy May weekend. We had perfect weather. We started our weekend trip at a campground, Gore's landing.
We camped Friday and Saturday night and met up with fellow paddlers that I had met at a previous similar event. Had a blast. Paddlers are fabulous people!!!
Saturday, we paddled the Silver River. This is an 11 mile car ride from Gore's landing to Ray's Wayside Park, very easy. We paddled upstream to the spring source in 5 hours. This was done purposely. We dawdled to watch birds and butterflies and to seek otters. We were successful in sighting an otter, as well as many alligators, ibis, anhingas, cormorants, sparrows, great blue herons, little blue herons, bees, and butterflies. The butterflies really put on a show. There is a large colony of monkeys in this area and we also enjoyed watching them at intervals. Rumor is, they will jump onto boats and steal food. Maybe. There are many, many anhingas and cormorants including a nesting colony near the spring.
We also stopped twice to swim and snack.
The return trip was equally entertaining. Just for fun, we increased our speed and completed the 4 mile return trip in 105 minutes.
The Silver River is astoundingly beautiful. The water is a deep azure color. The run is very dramatically deep in places. Very large fish (gars and catfish) can be seen in the water as well as many turtles. Many of the plants were in bloom. I also very much enjoyed the swimming. By noon, there were many other kayaks on the water, as well as power craft. I must say, the motorized craft were very courteous and generated very small wakes.
Gore's Landing is a Marion County park with campsites, a boat ramp and canoe/kayak launch. The campsites are primitive, meaning no water or electricity, however there is a bathroom on site with outside showers. It is very clean and well maintained. The water has a healthy sulfur odor and you would likely not want to use it for drinking or cooking. There is a streetlight in the middle of the campground which makes nighttime activities convenient (like setting up your tent at 930pm) however some people find the light disturbs sleep. There is a camp host who attempts to enforce the 9pm quiet time. Alcohol is not allowed. There are fire rings and picnic tables at the campsites. 2 sites are directly on the river.
Ray's Wayside park is a very clean, nice county park with 2 boat ramps, a separate canoe/kayak launch, pavilions for picnics and parties, and bathrooms.
sea kayak and canoe
Tent, sleeping bags, camp stove
$5 nightly camping fee and day use fee at Gore's Landing. $5 launch fee/day use fee (per vehicle) at Ray's wayside park.
Enter this website for directions to Gore's landing:
From Gore's landing, follow the directions back to highway 40. Turn left and Ray's wayside park is on the right, about 4 miles. From Ray's wayside park, you can paddle either the Silver River or the Oklawaha River.