Destination: Florida’s Suwannee River

Paddle the Suwannee Wilderness Trail from White Springs, Fla., to the Gulf of Mexico

The dreamy waterscape of the Suwannee River. Photo by Dave Freeman
The dreamy waterscape of the Suwannee River. Photo by Dave Freeman

Forget the frenzy of Miami, the spring break throngs, the crowded beaches and glitz. On the Suwannee, settle into a week or more of original Florida. Think egrets and shrike, dozens of natural springs, live oaks and cypress, sand bluffs, beaches to camp on. The 170-mile wilderness trail winds peacefully through northern Florida, looping its way to the Gulf through country rich with Southern culture, history, and wild lands. Choose how off the grid you want to go. Options run the gamut from organized river camps with cabins and tent shelters to backcountry, self-contained camping. During midwinter the birding is stupendous. Several “hubs” along the way combine relaxing into “river time” with a chance to sample regional music and food. Trails like the Lime Sink Run along the bluffs of the upper river, or the Sandhills Trail, leading to Civil War battlefields and cemeteries, vary the paddling routine. The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge teems with birds and animals. This is a Southern dawdle, a tropical release from the oppression of clocks.

Beta:
-170 miles
-Flatwater (Class III Big Shoals Rapid, the biggest whitewater in the state, is just upstream, and worth a visit)
-8-10 days
-Prime time is midwinter

Info:
floridastateparks.org/wilderness
mysuwanneeriver.com

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