Paddle Florida

 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

Certification Date:
May 10, 2012

Paddle Florida’s 2019-2020 Season
Suwannee River Wilderness Trail – October 18-23, 2019
Celebrate Florida’s version of autumn on its most famous river.  The trip spans 65 miles of the scenic Suwannee and a portion of the (northern) Withlacoochee, from Madison Blue Spring to Branford.  This section features dozens of clear blue springs perfect for swimming and snorkeling.  12 years and counting!.

 Flagler Coastal Wildlife Festival – November 1-3, 2019
Paddle with dophins, meet rescued sea turtles , and float by historic forts as you immerse yourself in the rich cultural history and natural beauty of Florida’s northeast coast.

Wekiva/St. John’s River Ramble – December 5-8, 2019
Join us for a paddle down the iconic Rock Springs Run, back to Wekiva Springs State Park, and on to Wilson’s Landing in Seminole County as we camp in rustic cabins for the first two nights and at Wilson’s Landing on the way to the finish at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County.  At a total of 30 miles, this trip is perfect for beginners to paddle camping. 

 Florida Keys Challenge – January 15-22, 2020
Paddle the azure coastal waters of the Middle Florida Keys.  Explore mangrove tunnels, and watch sea turtles surface beside your kayak, and enjoy a snorkeling trip out to Looe Key.

Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee – February 13-18, 2020
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 adventure includes a side trip to the colorful Rainbow River and its world class first magnitude spring. 

Choctawhatchee Challenge – March 13-19, 2020
Get away from it all into the heart of the Panhandle as we paddle 76 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 3-5, 2020
North Florida’s eight 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 – 12 miles.  Paddle Florida’s favorite entertainer will perform Saturday for a benefit concert to support regional waterway and springs protection.  This weekend will feature kayak/canoe demos, an evening ghost tour through nearby ruins, a silent auction, and an opportunity to hear from local experts dedicated t preserving North Florida’s rivers, springs, and watersheds. 

2 trips added to our 2019/2020 schedule
 In order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we have scheduled two events in April, 2020. First, we will stage a redo of our Flori-Bama Expedition on the Perdido River, April 11 - 16 and then, with one day in between. we will do a shortened version of our Ochlockonee River trip April 18 - 22, finishing at Bald Point State Park on Earth Day.  Or you can make it an 11-day adventure by signing up for both trips, since you will be in the panhandle anyway.
For more information
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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.  Meals include hearty breakfast, and dinners each day, and 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 entertainments 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, Florida Keys, Withlacoochee and Choctawhatchee trips.  Pay a daily rate for up to 4 days.