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 2020-2021 season:
- Oct. 16-21, 2020: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Price: $525 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. 12-15, 2020: Ten Thousand Island Paddling Festival. Price: $299 adults. Based in Collier Seminole State Park near Naples, participants will choose from several paddling trips, including freshwater rivers (Turner River) to open-water saltwater trips (to Cape Romano, White Horse Key and Keewaydin Island.)
- Dec. 2-8, 2020: Treasure Coast Paddling Adventure. Price: $625. This trip on the scenic Indian River Lagoon starts at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park and makes five stops along 50 miles before ending at he St. Sebastian River.
- Feb. 9-14, 2021: Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee. Price: $525 (with less expensive options for fewer days and services.) Begins at Lake Panasoffkee and follows the river to the Gulf of Mexico. Includes a day paddling Rainbow Springs.
- March 17-23, 2021: Springtime on the Chipola Price: $625. This Panhandle trip starts at Florida Caverns State Park.
- April 2-4, 2021 : Suwannee River Paddling Festival. Price: $199 adults. 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.
People who’ve taken these trips before talk about the camaraderie, the convenience and the memorable wilderness experiences.