Florida Water Trails
Here is you
chance to enjoy the beauty and the serenity of being on a water trail in
Florida. So grab your kayak, canoe or paddle boat and
begin your adventure.
the links below to find further information on Florida
Canoeing the Hillsborough River
near Tampa, Florida
Florida Recreational Canoe Trail; Outstanding
Florida Water; Florida Ecosystem Management Model; Florida
Rivers & Trails
A 150-mile-long water trail through Florida Bay and
into the Atlantic Ocean connecting Miami with Key West.
Rivers & Trails
106-mile water trail known as the Florida Keys
Overseas Paddling Trail
loss of where to canoe in the Florida?
farther than the following map and listing, which highlight
the best places in Florida to float your canoe. In 1979, the
Florida Recreation Act established a network of recreational
trails across the Sunshine State as a way for people to
explore Florida. Included in the designation are 38 canoe
trails--publicly owned waterways often flowing through
private property--covering more than 1,000 miles of scenic
waterways. So grab your canoe and go--and donít forget the
Forming the border between Florida and Alabama, the Perdido
River curves past woodlands of pine, cypress and juniper.
Several small ponds or sloughs hidden along the banks
provide additional paddling opportunities.
2. Coldwater Creek: This Panhandle river features
crystal clear water and white sand bottoms. Dotted along the
banks are sandbars perfect for camping or picnicking. Like
other western Florida streams, its current is faster than
other peninsular Florida rivers.
3. Sweetwater/Juniper Creeks: Sweetwater Creek is
narrow and swift with winding curves, but after it joins
Juniper Creek, the curves become gentler and the creek
widens. Note: the water level fluctuates rapidly after heavy
4. Blackwater River: The dark, tannin-stained waters
of the Blackwater contrast with the pure white sandbars
found along its bends. Flowing through the Western
Highlands, the trail is lined with cedar, maple and cypress.
This fast-flowing river trail ends at Blackwater River State
5. Yellow River: The upper portion of the Yellow
River is a fast-flowing stream draining the Western
Highlands and Floridaís highest elevation. Hardwood forests
and high sandy banks frame the river. As you move
downstream, the river deepens and slows as it passes through
cypress and gum swamps.
6. Shoal River: A nature loverís dream, the Shoal
River threads through northwest Florida wilderness, passing
high sandy hills and broad sandbars. The surrounding forest
is a mixture of maple, birch, oak, gum and cypress,
providing a welcome escape from civilization.
7. Holmes Creek: In contrast with other streams of
west Florida, Holmes Creek slowly winds past high sandy
banks and through lush swamp lands. Many low hanging
branches and sharp, twisting bends add challenge to the
8. Econfina Creek: Experienced paddlers will find
this unspoiled stream a technical challenge. It flows
through scenic river swamp, hammocks and woods. The springs
feeding it have cut deep canyons in the limestone.
9. Chipola River: Beginning at Florida Caverns State
Park, this trail passes through 50 miles of river swamps and
hardwood forests. High limestone bluffs and caves are
accessible from the river. Some rapids, including "Look and
Tremble Falls," challenge even experts. Inexperienced
paddlers should begin at SR 167 access.
10. Ochlockonee River (North): Beginning near the
Georgia line, the narrow upper portion of the Ochlockonee
twists around cypress knees and downed trees toward Lake
Talquin. Low water will require some portaging and
11. Ochlockonee River (Lower): More than 50 miles of
this trail wind through the Apalachicola National Forest,
past high pine bluffs and dense hardwoods. Near its end at
Ochlockonee River State Park, the river widens and motor
boats are more common. Releases form Jackson Bluff Dam vary
the river level.
12. Sopchoppy River: This dark-colored river twists
its way around cypress trees as it swiftly courses through
the Apalachicola National Forest. At low water, the trip
requires pullovers and some wading.
13. Wakulla River: The four-mile trail on this
cypress-lined river makes an unhurried half-day trip. The
slow current makes a round-trip easy so you don't have to
shuttle. Wildlife is abundant.
14. Wacissa River: The waters of the narrow, swift
Wacissa twist and turn through the Aucilla Wildlife
Management Area. The entrance to the lower section is
obscured by aquatic plants and overhanging willows. Watch
for it on the far right.
15. Aucilla River: This coffee-colored river is
recommended for experienced paddlers. Rapids and man-made
dams can be a challenge, becoming more numerous and
hazardous during low water.
16. Historic Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail:
Numerous species of aquatic plant and animal life are
present on this 91.5-mile paddling trail. The trail traces
the Big Bend Aquatic Preserve and passes by several quaint
fishing communities. Pay attention to weather and tide
forecasts when planning your trip.
17. Withlacoochee River (North): Flowing through
swamp lands and past sandy beaches and limestone outcrops,
the trail contains several shoals areas and ends at Suwannee
River State Park.
18. Suwannee River (Upper): The Suwannee river flows
through pristine river swamp and along wide sandy banks.
Numerous access points offer a choice of one-day excursions.
Even experienced paddlers are recommended to portage "Big
Shoals" rapids. The Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center
is accessible from the trail, and the Suwannee River State
Park marks the trailís end.
19. Suwannee River (Lower): Continuing from Suwannee
River State Park, the lower section of the Suwannee also
contains numerous shoals during low water. Portaging may be
necessary. Abundant wildlife and scenery make this a very
20.St. Marys River: The numerous snow white sandbars
along this river make camping easy and enjoyable. Forming
the state border, the St. Marys gently curves though the
wilderness of north Florida and south Georgia.
21.Santa Fe River: This trail begins just below River
Rise State Preserve where the Santa Fe returns to the
surface after a three-mile-long underground journey. The
lazy current and gentle curves make it a good beginnerís
paddling trail. There are some small shoals during low
water, but they are generally passable.
22.Pellicer Creek: This four-mile trail winds through
tidal marsh. The current is slow enough that you can paddle
upstream to make a round trip if you don't want to shuttle.
The trail ends at Faver-Dykes State Park.
23.Bulow Creek: The Bulow Creek Trail loops upstream
from Bulow Plantation Ruins State Historic Site, then
returns to the trail head before continuing on to the
Intracoastal Waterway where it ends. The creek flows through
grassy coastal marshes characteristic of the Atlantic coast.
24.Tomoka River: This 13-mile trail loops upstream
from the trailhead where the river threads among cypress
trees. Moving downstream, the river widens as it flows
through the open coastal marsh and then into Tomoka State
25.Spruce Creek: This east-central Florida trail
threads through a variety of habitats, including dense
hardwood forest and coastal saltwater marsh. The trail is a
16-mile round trip which begins and ends at Spruce Creek
Park on Strickland Bay.
26. Wekiva River/Rock Springs Run: Rock Springs Run
forms the border between Wekiwa Springs State Park and Rock
Springs Run State Preserve. The run meets the Wekiva River
at the park. The tannin-stained waters of the Wekiva River
twist though pine and hardwood uplands and dense swamplands
and passes through the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve
before flowing into the St. Johns River.
27. Econlockhatchee River: Generally untouched by
development, the "Econ" winds past white sandy beaches and
through oak-palm hammocks. The beginning is narrow, shallow,
and cypress-lined. Downstream, the river broadens and
deepens, and the curves become gentler.
28. Withlacoochee River (South): Flowing out of the
Green Swamp in west-central Florida, the Withlacoochee
twists through lush cypress swamps, hardwood and pine
forests, and scattered residential areas. Birds and other
wildlife abound along the 83-mile trail.
29. Pithlachascotee River: This short trail is
recommended for paddlers with some experience. The
Pithlachascotee has tight curves in the narrow upper segment
which demand technical paddling skills. It widens to longer
straight stretches on the lower section.
30. Hillsborough River: From its beginnings in the
Green Swamp, this trail flows southwest through pristine
surroundings offering opportunities to immerse yourself into
native Florida without getting too far from the comforts of
nearby urban areas (see story, page 138).
31. Alafia River: Within an hourís drive of Tampa,
the Alafia bends and twists under a spreading canopy of
pine, cypress and cedar trees. The river flows swiftly over
a limestone bed which exposes shoals in low water.
32. Little Manatee River: This short trail meanders
through a variety of habitats including sand and pine scrub,
willow marsh and hardwood forests on its way to the take out
at Little Manatee River State Recreation Area. It makes a
good half-day trip.
33. Manatee River (Upper): Subtropical vegetation
lines the banks of this gently winding trail. It is an easy
half-day trip; you can paddle both ways, making only one car
necessary. Water levels vary with releases from Lake Manatee
34. Peace River: As the name implies, this paddling
trail offers a peaceful, meandering trip away from
civilization. The river originates in the Green Swamp and is
alternately bordered by sand bluffs, grassy areas and dense
forests. Birding is abundant.
35. Loxahatchee River: The only river in Florida
designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, this
eight-mile trail meanders through a cypress swamp lush with
ferns and orchids. Within Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the
River winds through mangrove swamps. A variety of wildlife
make their homes near the coffee-colored waters.
36. Hickey Creek: Hickey Creek Canoe Trail is an easy
half-day trip which flows through subtropical hammocks. The
creek is accessible only from the Caloosahatchee River.
37. Estero River: This trail offers an easy, one-day
adventure from Koreshan State Historic Site among mangrove
islands and coves. When the trail opens into Estero Bay,
select your route to explore the mangrove islands before
returning upstream. Don't attempt to cross the bay if more
than light chop is expected.
38. Blackwater River/Royal Palm Hammock: This 13-mile
loop trail through Collier-Seminole State Park is a good
trail for beginners. The tidal creeks and mangrove
wilderness areas are quiet and pristine. File a trip plan at
the state park ranger station before putting in. -Paddlers
Water Trail Sites