Gainesville, Florida – September 13, 2013 – Paddle Florida’s new paddling season starts October 12-17, with Paddle Florida’s annual trip on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Returning paddlers and first-timers of all ages will experience a five-day adventure way down upon the Suwannee River featuring some of the world’s best first magnitude springs, excellent bird viewing opportunities, peaceful riverside camping, plenty of hiking trails, outstanding evening entertainment, and the campfire camaraderie Paddle Florida is known for.
The trip’s registration deadline is September 28. Paddlers may choose the full 73-mile trip or test the waters with the Paddle Florida Lite option for fewer days.
From the first morning’s glide starting at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, paddlers will experience a narrow riverbed flanked by its picturesque limestone bluffs. Depending on river levels, paddlers will have a chance to jump in and enjoy several crystal clear springs along the waterway. As the Suwannee twists and turns, paddlers are likely to encounter sturgeon or mullet jumping, turtles sliding off logs, or an occasional gator sunning. It’s the best place to unwind and soak in North Florida’s spectacular outdoor playground.
Paddle Florida staff takes care of everything but the actual paddling on their trips, which are scouted in advance to ensure waterway conditions and shoreline camping spots maximize comfort and showcase nature’s best view. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminates the need to weigh boats down with food and camping equipment. Lead and sweep boats guide paddlers on each day’s journey. With this level of support, paddlers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy an extended adventure in natural North Florida.
Each evening, paddlers gather for open-air dining, entertainment from Florida artists or musicians, and educational presentations that explore the region’s water ecology and wildlife. The Suwannee trip will feature the popular local band Big Cypress Bluegrass, research biologist and sturgeon expert Ken Sulak, Suwannee River Water Management Executive Director Ann Shortelle, springs advocate Annette Long, and a video presentation from the Florida Wildlife Corridor project.
Trip fees cover a paddling, camping, and learning adventure. The Suwannee trip fee is $275 for adults, $250 for seniors and college students, $225 for youth aged 8-17, and children under 7 are free. The recommended meal plan is an additional $150 per person and provides three hearty meals per day. Paddle Florida Lite is $100 per person per day for four days or less and $50 for end of the trip shuttle. For more details on the daily itinerary and registration, visit: http://paddleflorida.org/suwannee13/suwannee13.htm.
Don’t have a canoe or kayak you can bring? No problem. Paddle Florida has partnered with Suwannee Canoe Outpost to provide Suwannee River paddlers with all their boating needs.
Paddle Florida leads three- to seven-day trips across the state to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism in general, and paddling in particular. Awarded non-profit status in 2011, the group promotes water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection. True to this mission, Paddle Florida coordinates voluntary cleanups on each waterway they visit. Previous years’ volunteers have collected and removed over 1,500 pounds of trash from Florida’s waterways. Paddle Florida will once again participate in the Great Suwannee River Cleanup this year by adopting a section of river clean on the October trip.
Since its inception five years ago, Paddle Florida has led trips in different seasons and regions of the state, from the hardwood forests of the Panhandle to the mangrove islands of the southern Keys. Fees for all trips include camping, a t-shirt, a boat decal, maps and water descriptions, evening entertainment, full vehicle support for all gear, and meals (if meal plan is purchased).
Beyond the Suwannee trip this October, Paddle Florida’s 2013-2014 schedule features these trips:
This 30-mile paddle down the spring-fed upper Wekiva River to the St. Johns traverses a manatee and bird lovers’ paradise. Shorter daily mileages and two nights in cabins make this trip an excellent option for Paddle Florida newcomers. Registration deadline: November 22.
•January 15-22, 2014: Florida Keys Challenge
Enjoy a true winter’s paradise, paddling beside sea turtles and railroad visionary Henry Flagler’s ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ in the azure waters of the Florida Keys. The journey is 70 miles, from Long Key to Key West. Registration deadline: January 2.
Beginning at Lake Panasofkee, paddlers will thread their way through hardwood swamps and clear, spring-fed streams on a 60-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Registration deadline: February 2.
From wild Tupelo honey to fresh Gulf oysters, experience the Panhandle’s Ochlockonee River which winds through state and national forest lands on 76 miles of Florida’s most remote wilderness river trail.
Registration deadline: March 1.