One of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors during Florida’s long hot summers is to start planning where you’ll go this winter.

For ideas about paddling trips, you can find inspiration in Paddle Florida’s trips, which were announced recently.

Paddle Florida is a non-profit that supports kayaking and canoeing in Florida by organizing reasonably priced multi-day paddling and camping trips on Florida’s greatest rivers and waterways.

The beauty of these trips is that Paddle Florida staff researches the best locations, arranges all the logistics from camping and meals to musical entertainment around the campfire.  The group even shuttles your camping gear between campsites each day, allowing you to travel light and always arrive to a dry tent and sleeping bag.  Groups are limited to 100 or, in the case of the Suwanee, 200 people.  These trips are a great option for solo paddlers.

Participants bring their own boats and tents or arrange to rent them (for an extra charge) from affiliated outfitters.

Trips for the 2018-2019 season:

  • October 19 – 24, 2018: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Price:  $550 adults (with less expensive options for fewer days and services.) Some details from Paddle Florida: The trip follows the scenic Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and begins at Madison Blue Spring State Park.  It ends in the town of Branford, after passing many springs ideal for snorkeling and swimming.
  • Nov. 1-4, 2018: Flagler Coastal Wildlife Experience. Price: $325 adults. This trip explores coastal waters in a region with 125 miles of canopied, connected trails. Based at the River to Sea Preserve in Palm Coast.
  • Nov. 30 – Dec. 4, 2018: Ocklawaha Odyssey. Price: $460 adults. Details from Paddle Florida: Start at historic Silver Springs State Park, where wild monkeys join a diversity of birds and wildlife. Trip is 46-mile paddle down the Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers.
  • Jan. 17 – 22, 2019: Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee.  Price: $550 adults (with less expensive options for fewer days and services.). From 57-69 miles, depending on paddler’s choice. Trip starts at Marsh Bend Outlet Park in Lake Panasoffkee and ends at Bird Creek Park on the Gulf of Mexico, just west of Yankeetown. Includes a sidetrip to the Rainbow River and its world class first magnitude spring.
  • Feb. 9 – 15, 2019: Florida Keys Challenge. Price: $775 adults. This trips covers 47 miles of the clear shallow waters of the Florida Keys, with highlights including Bahia Honda State Park and Curry Hammock State Park.
  • March 10 – 15, 2019: Flori-Bama Expedition on the Perdido River: . Price: $575 adults. Paddlers will cover 60 miles on the Perdido River as it meanders past extensive woodlands of pine, cypress, and juniper cedar with many sandbars along the way serving as ideal rest spots.
  • April 5-7, 2019: Suwannee River Paddling Festival. Price: $175 adults. Paddle Florida ends its season with a trip where paddlers camp atop the bluff overlooking two rivers at Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak.  The weekend will offer supported 8-12 mile paddling options on both the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, a concert featuring Paddle Florida’s favorite musicians, and educational presentations from regional waterway experts.

Folks who’ve taken these trips before talk about the camaraderie, the convenience and the memorable wilderness experiences.