For any interested paddler out there, the Suwannee offers over 170 miles of paddling, on a historic river, through some spectacular ecosystems of north Florida. I paddled 100 miles of the river this past March with my friend, and trusted bow paddler, Jonathan Bollhoefer. We passed through hardwood/palmetto forests, pine forests, and beautiful springs. It was an amazing trip, and I know I'll return with even more family and friends. However, not that many people know about the river trail, so I figured I'd post some information. The state keeps track of how many people use the trail, so if more people go, it is more likely to remain funded.
The free shelters located along the Suwannee River make it great for groups with kids, older folks, or people that just don't like to rough it. They are essentially raised, screened in pavilions with access to power. There are also clean bathrooms and hot showers for those who don't like to use nature as their toilet. Normally, I like to rough it, but I have to admit, it was nice to pamper myself. If you would prefer primitive camping, it is available as well.
The springs along the Suwannee are well worth the visit. They are usually crystal clear, and can be over 50 feet deep. One even had a cave that we were able to swim through. The springs are especially interesting because the clear water allows viewing of turtles, gators, and fish (e.g. gar, sucker, bass, mullet, eels, catfish). And, if it is warm enough, they are great swimming holes.
I posted a trip report and links to all appropriate authorities on my blog:
Free River Camps are available. They are screened in shelters with power. There are also clean bathrooms with hot water. They are for paddlers and hikers only, so you won't be aggravated by any RV generators.
River Camps - free (reservation recomended)
Primitive Camping - free but permit required; contact the Suwannee River Water Management District (www.srwmd.state.fl.us/index.aspx?NID=63)
State Parks along the River - entrance fee and if you decide to camp, a camping fee. These vary depending on the park.
There are numerous State Parks (fees) and public boat ramps.