Trip Reports

Winter Paddling in Florida

Winter Paddling in Florida

Silver River 0004Can't wait for spring? Then head to Florida for some very nice paddling! One centre of paddling is Ocala Florida. It takes about 21 hours to drive there nonstop from Ottawa. Or you can take a direct flight from Ottawa to Orlando, about an hour south of Ocala. In Ocala, you can paddle the Silver River in Silver Springs State Park and perhaps see a manatee. Or you can drive east to paddle the somewhat challenging Juniper Creek. Alternatively, you can go further west into the panhandle to paddle Holmes Creek or the Blackwater River.  At all four destinations, you can rent a canoe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's start first with the Silver River.  It is a highlight of any Florida paddling vacation.  The Silver River has a profusion of birds, fish, turtles and alligators. There are even one or two troops of monkeys.  In addition, in the last couple of years, the number of manatees has increased. In 2018, one manatee swam up to have his head scratched, but that is not the norm.

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Juniper Creek is a narrow winding creek with palm trees leaning over the water.  You have to be alert to stay on the correct side of the creek so as to duck under overhanging tree trunks. In the middle of the run is a 100m grade 1 rapid. Also, the lower reaches of the creek do have alligators.

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If you are in the Florida Panhandle, you might try paddling Holmes Creek which has a quite nice spring along the way.

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Finally, if you are near Pensacola, the Blackwater River is a pleasant day's paddle.

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