When we travel, we’re are typically out to discover something new or different, especially within a familiar destination.
Let’s take Florida, for example. If you’re like the majority of travelers, when you think of the state, your mind conjures up images of miles of sunshine and beaches, handful of theme parks, numerous attractions, an abundance of seafood and so on.
Do I sense that you’re nodding in agreement?
Thing is, there isn’t no right or wrong answer here. The point is no matter how well you think you may know all about a destination, there’s always a few surprises for you to discover – like the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
Utilizing 171 miles of the 235-mile long river, the trail begins in the town of White Springs
and ends (along with the river) in the Gulf of Mexico. You can do a self-guided tour of a couple miles or more, or a guided tour through a private outfitter that will take you into the Gulf.
By itself, the river is quite unique. There’s three distinctive sections to it, so what you may see at one point, you might not at another. Expect a little of everything from rocky bluffs to springs and more. You definitely won’t be bored taking in all of the scenery; and in some places, paddling through the quick water.
Yet, while the natural beauty does make the trail (and the river) stand out, I think what makes it special is how it is designed to hit eights “hubs
,” that is, towns such as Fanning Springs
. You can paddle some distance in the morning to mid-afternoon, then get off and enjoy spending the night at Suwannee State Park
or Lafayette Blue Springs State Park
. You can even make arrangements to overnight at the privately-owned Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Now, in between the “hubs,” in 10-mile intervals are river camps
. They offer both sleeping platforms (16 x 16 screened-in enclosures with ceiling fan and light) and primitive camping sites.
Separate bathroom facilities are available as well.
If you decide to explore the trail, you first stop should be at the Florida’s Nature Heritage Tourism Center
in White Springs (spend the night at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
), where you can get more information about the trail, make any needed reservations for your paddle and more.
Whether you’re a leisurely or an advanced paddler, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy the trail and discovering one of Florida’s surprises.
photo credit: personal photos