Florida SEE Silver Certified
About Paddle Florida:
Headquartered in Gainesville, FL, the non-profit corporation offers paddling events in each of Florida’s five water management districts. Paddle Florida partners with local outfitters that provide canoes, kayaks and gear for trips that last from 30 miles to more than 70 miles and can span an entire week. Florida-based entertainment and educational programing is provided and staff scout waterways in advance to ensure safe, comfortable tours.
Paddle Florida SEE Certification:
Paddle Florida is the third Ecotour Operator to be certified through the Florida SEE certification program and received Silver designation for meeting up to 74% of the BONUS criteria on the Certification Checklist. Paddle Florida has successfully demonstrated its commitment to ecological sustainability, natural and cultural area management, and delivery of quality ecotourism experiences through its promotion of “water conservation, wildlife preservation and the restoration of springs”.
Highlights of Paddle Florida Certification:
A Florida SEE Assessor participated on the four day & three night St Johns River Ramble with Paddle Florida.
It only took 15 minutes after leaving the congestion of I-4 near Orlando to be immersed into the beauty of the area around Apopka. Here, the headwaters of the Wekiva River (one of two National & Scenic Rivers in Florida) offered a glimpse of what Central Florida looked like when Timucuan Indians fished and hunted these lands.
The 47 Paddle FL participants met in the Youth Camp at Wekiwa Springs State Park on a Friday afternoon. After checking into one of the primitive cabins where we spent two nights, everyone assembled in the dining hall for the first of many fabulous meals catered by a local chef. Later a presentation by the St Johns River Water Management District hit home the importance of water conservation and the protection of the many springs in this part of the state. Our leader Bill provided the itinerary on the next few days which included a service component of packing out trash as Paddle Florida participates in a Clean Rivers initiative.
On Saturday, we launched at Rock Springs, a beautiful paddle down to Wekiwa Springs, congested as expected for any creek with an outfitter on a holiday weekend. Even with the traffic there were periods of solitude and plenty of wildlife sightings both in the cool clear spring waters and on shore in the shade of Cypress trees. It surprised me that Night Herons and Limpkins both fairly elusive were spotted along this busy section.
Those who didn’t opt to swim in the 72 degree Spring, were shuttled back to our cabins for some free time, during which I hiked the perimeter of a dry lake bed with a biologist from University of Florida. Evening entertainment was a local folk singer and cellist as well as a presentation by the State Park Manager, after which we shared stories from the day’s paddle around a campfire.
Sunday was the best day of paddling, immersed in secluded sections of the Wekiva (meaning Spring) abundant with alligators beckoning warnings or in search of a mate. There were periods of time when I paddled for what seemed like hours without seeing another person and likewise had as many shared experiences paddling in small groups of new friends adding sightings to our life list or just chatting about nothing.
Paddle Florida offers (in this case)a fully supported experience with just the right blend of self exploration and guided interpretation. Many participants are regular adventurers who plan their own trips, but this time they left the planning to Paddle Florida. My new friend Bruce a retired CEO from Texas was happy to let someone else stress about the logistics so he could sit back observe, fish if he wanted and think about his There are other trips to choose from longer in length and less formal dining, but an adventure is what you will get with Paddle Florida!
Contact Paddle Florida:
Gainesville, FL 32627
May 10, 2012
October 20-25, 2017
Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Celebrate Florida's version of autumn on its most famous spring-fed river! From Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River to the town of Branford, the trip spans 65 miles of the scenic Suwannee River Wilderness Trail..
December 1-5, 2017
Ocklawaha Odyssey Float over Florida’s most famous first magnitude spring, see monkeys dangling from Cypress limbs and a spectacular diversity of birds, and explore a scenic Old Florida land– and waterscape on this 48-mile paddle down the Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers.
January 18-23, 2018
Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee Beginning at Lake Panasoffkee, paddlers will thread their way through hardwood swamps and tannic streams on a 60-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The trip includes the colorful Rainbow River and its world class first magnitude spring.
February 10-16, 2018
The Great Calusa Blueway Bask in the history, culture, and beauty of Southwest Florida as we explore 57 miles of Lee County’s rivers, bays, creeks, mangrove tunnels, aquatic preserves, Calusa shell mounds, and pristine white-sand barrier islands.
March 10-16, 2018
Choctawhatchee Challenge Get away from it all into the heart of the Panhandle as we paddle 86 miles of the mighty Choctawhatchee. This is a journey into Wild Florida where wildlife far outnumber humans, and paddlers can stumble upon spectacular springs.
Suwannee River Paddling Festival
April 6-8, 2018
North Florida’s sixth annual Suwannee River Paddling Festival will take place at Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak. Supported trip options on Saturday and Sunday offer paddlers the opportunity to experience the scenic Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers in segments ranging from 8 to 12 miles. Paddle Florida’s favorite entertainers will perform Saturday for a benefit concert to support regional waterway and springs protection. The weekend will also feature kayak/canoe demos, an evening ghost tour through nearby ruins, a silent auction, and an opportunity to hear from local experts dedicated to preserving North Florida’s rivers, springs, and watersheds.
For More Information
Learn more about trips, fees, itineraries, and the Paddle Florida experience….
Visit our website at: paddleflorida.org
Subscribe to The Happy Paddler e-newsletter
Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/paddleflorida
Follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/paddlefloridainc
View videos from previous trips on YouTube: youtube.com/user/paddlefla
Paddle Florida staff takes care of everything but the actual paddling on their trips. They’ll even light the campfire!
* Trips are scouted in advance to assess waterway conditions and locate comfortable shoreline camping spots which showcase nature’s best view.
* Partnerships with local outfitters provide paddlers with canoes, kayaks, and other paddling gear to rent as needed. *Meal plans offer hearty outdoor breakfasts, and dinners each day, with lunch snacks provided along the waterways we explore.
* Camping gear is shuttled from campsite to campsite each day, eliminating the need to weigh boats down with tents and other supplies.
* Florida-based entertainment and educational programming is provided each evening by artists, musicians, and naturalists local to the region.
* Shuttles are available to transport paddlers, and their boats to and from their personal vehicles at the beginning and end of trips.
* A Paddle Florida Lite option is available for paddlers who can’t get away for the entirety of our Suwannee and Ochlockonee trips. Pay a daily rate for up to four days.