Florida is gaining in popularity, not just for its beautiful beaches, but for the wondrous freshwater springs, rivers and creeks that invite kayak and canoe enthusiasts to explore and experience truly amazing wilderness that the Sunshine state has to offer. Grab your paddles- Here are 6 Florida paddle spots you may not of heard about, but need to visit.
Juniper Springs Recreation Area- Silver Springs, FLPicture vibrant green plants, stunning old trees and bubbling spring boils- like a scene out of Jurassic Park. Find this and more at Juniper Springs, tucked within Ocala National Forest. The springs feed a run that is strictly protected, leaving it seemingly untouched. Paddlers can enjoy FL wilderness in its utmost beauty, weaving through the crystal clear waterway around twisting palms and towering cypress.
Ecofina Creek, Youngstown, FLThis is another spring fed creek nestled in the northwest of the FL panhandle. Avoid the crowds, popular beach destinations and touristy spots and experience a sliver of true Florida paradise along this azure colored creek via kayak or canoe. Paddlers can look forward to passing waterfalls, rock outcrops and the Gainer Springs Complex with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities and swimming.
Loxahatchee River, Jupiter, FLTravel to south Florida where a narrow river snakes its way through the tropical fauna and lush vegetation that somehow escaped the nearby rise of urban life. This river will steal your heart, packed with alligators, turtles, fish and other native Florida critters, find yourself shaded by a canopy of cypress, oak and palms as you navigate under fallen trunks and branches.
Silver River, Ocala, FLThis is a wider run located in central Florida but has a unique feature than other areas of the state- wild monkeys. This crystal clear river is fed by the infamous Silver Springs where the old Tarzan movies were filmed. Monkeys were released on a small island as an attraction in the 1930s, but they learned how to swim and escaped, quickly surviving and thriving in the surrounding land.
Santa Fe River, High Springs, FLIt’s wide and dark, but beautiful nonetheless. This is a great leisure run, with springs conveniently located along the river- perfect to stop and visit. One special little spot, Lilly Spring, is inhabited and cared for by Naked Ed- a well-known figure and nudist in High Springs town. Take a dip in Lilly and if you’re lucky, Ed may join you for some skinny-dipping!
Suwannee River/ Big Shoals, White Springs, FLThe Suwannee may be the most well-known river in Florida, but unlike the rest of the state’s lazy rivers, Big Shoals in Northeast FL offers paddlers a little bit of excitement on the ol’ Suwannee. When conditions are right, class three rapids can be found here, perfect to add a little bite to your run before settling back into the calm.
Courtney is a full-time writer covering soccer, travel and the outdoors. You can find her scouting out hole in the wall joints for the perfect carnitas taco, jumping in the ocean under the light of a full moon or exploring the beautiful Florida wilderness and documenting her adventures in her blog, www.localtravelgal.wordpress.com.