One of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors during Floridaâ€™s long hot summers is to start planning where youâ€™ll go this winter.
For ideas about paddling trips, you can find inspiration in Paddle Floridaâ€™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 Floridaâ€™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.Â 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.Â Groups are limited to 100 or, in the case of the Suwanee, 200 people. Â 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 2017-2018 season:
- October 20-25, 2017: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.Â Price: Â $550 adults.Â Some details from Paddle Florida: The trip spans 65 miles of the scenic Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and begins at Madison Blue Spring State Park. Â It ends in the town of Branford, after passing many springs ideal for snorkeling and swimming. Paddlers can join the trip in smaller segments.
- December 1-5, 2017: Ocklawaha Odyssey.Â Price: $450 adults.Â Details from Paddle Florida: Â Start at historic Silver Springs State Park, where wild monkeys join aÂ diversity of birds and wildlife. Trip is 48-mile paddle down the Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers.
- January 18-23, 2018: Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee.Â Â Price: $525 adults. From 57-69 miles, depending on paddler’s choice.Â Trip starts atÂ Marsh Bend Outlet Park in Lake Panasoffkee and ends atÂ Bird Creek Park on the Gulf of Mexico, just west of Yankeetown. Includes a sidetrip to the Rainbow RiverÂ and its world class first magnitude spring.
- February 10-16, 2018: The Great Calusa Blueway. Price: $700 adults. This saltwater trip includes paddling out to wild and pristine Cayo Costa island, where a layover day allows paddlers to explore the entire island. The trip starts at Koreshan State Historic Site and ends on Pine Island, covering 57 miles.
- March 10-16, 2018: Choctawhatchee Challenge. Â Price: $575 adults. This 86-mile trip takes you throughÂ heart of the Florida Panhandle onÂ the Choctawhatchee. Â Here, wildlife outnumbers humans and paddlers can stumble upon spectacular springs in old growth forests.
- April 6-8, 2018: Suwannee River Paddling Festival. Price: $175 adults. Paddle Florida ends its season with a trip where paddlers camp atop the bluff overlooking two rivers at Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak.Â 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.
Folks whoâ€™ve taken these trips before talk about the camaraderie, the convenience and the memorable wilderness experiences.