Florida State park paddling questions

can any one give me any info on paddling opportunities at Manatee Springs State Park and/or Paynes Prairie Preserve?

thanks in advance.



Maybe…never been quite to Manatee


Not in the winter it seems.

I have that info.
I was interested to hear from someone who has been there, and can give me some heads upon the paddling opportunities.

thanks anyway though for trying to help.


Paddling the Swanee
Jack - we’ve paddled twice in the Manatee Springs State Park area while camping at the park. Last year, we launched just east of the park and paddled upstream a few miles and back. As you approach the park on Rt. 320, turn right on NW 110th Ave and look for signs to the launch. That afternoon we had a Limpkin feeding along the edge of the river right near the launch.

On our other trip there four years ago, we launched about 15 miles upstream and floated/paddled back to Manatee Springs. I’m not sure just where we launched, but you can get a map of launches on the river by googling “suwannee river launch” and look for a pdf called “big boat ramp map”.

The best part of that trip was exploring the huge springs that flow into the river. We followed several side streams a short way into spring pools, putting out amazing amounts of water.

Enjoy, Alan

Ouch - please excuse my spelling. Cornell may take back my diploma…

Try to do both, Jack . . .

– Last Updated: Dec-01-09 12:20 AM EST –

The water in the Paynes Prarie area can vary widely with the rains. Check that.

Nearby Noonan's Lake was recently discovered to have ruins of an ancient Native American canoe factory. There were accounts of its alleged existence; water level in the lake dropped during the drought and a series of ancient hulls were discovered confirming the existence of this canoe-building village.

You might want to connect with Lars Andersen of Adventure Outpost in White Springs. ( http://www.adventureoutpost.net/index.html ) He paddles an old Wenonah with a duct-tape-repaired alligator bite in it . . . kinda like a mild-mannered Indiana Jones and a consummate naturalist and historian of the area. He does tours and knows the area like a book.

While you are in the area, if you have not paddled the Ichetucknee River, you need to. Probably the most beautiful little river on the planet.

Paynes Prairie SP
has only Lake Walberg to paddle. It’s a small lake full of gators.

Some info
From my limited time here, Jack, I get the impression you are an experienced Florida paddler, so I don’t know what you’ve done or are looking for. Sounds like something north-central-west.

I first paddled Manatee in 1986 and had a blast in my borrowed Mike Galt Lotus Caper. The Suwannee was high and had flooded the forest all around Manatee Springs. I had a terrific flooded forest run, carving around trees, and decided to buy the Caper based on that.

The last time I was there was in 89 and there was no overflooding. I don’t care much for the Suwannee – much too big; I like more intimate and twisty – so I didn’t find paddling down Manatee to Suwannee very interesting that year.

I like the Santa Fe and its tributaries (e.g., Ichetucknee) from River Rise to the Suwannee. Also the Wacassa-Wacissa junction in the Big Bend. Or the Aucilla, which has maybe the best rapid in Florida:


Rainbow Springs, though it is populated with boats and tubers, is fun and good exercise.

Don’t know Paynes Prairie.

We know the Santa Fe, and also have paddled it at flood stage through the woods

We also have paddled the Rainbow river dozens of times, but were wondering if there are any other hidden gems that we didn’t know about.


Thanks Alan
jack L

Been to the Ichetucknee
I think it is too crowded and regulated, but thanks.


So there are no little side streams or .
remote creeks to explore there?



Have you paddled Gum Slough?

Yes, thanks to Tom and Deb
they led us on a trip there last spring.

-A wonderful place with a delightful couple!

I would go back there in a heart beat.



On the Ichetucknee . . .
Jack, it’s best to paddle this river early and on a weekday. Summer is the worst season. One exception (Geez - I shouldn’t say this . . .): Four or five years ago, I paddled the river in the Twin Loon with my son-in-law - on Easter Sunday. The conditions were perfect and NOBODY was on the river! Paradise and a true sanctuary for the occasion.

On the regulations . . . the regulations saved the Ichetucknee. Back in High School - when almost nobody knew about the river - I would put an empty orange sack in an inner tube and run the river with a mask and snorkel. Our group would pull fantastic fossils from this pristine site.

Then the rednecks and snowbirds discovered it - running it with inner tubes filled with six packs and snacks. In a few years, the river was trashed! Fortunately, the rangers cleaned it up and brought it back to life - restoring the delicate ecology. I thank them every time I visit.

Now, if we can just keep the bottled water companies from sucking the rivers dry, this and adjoining rivers will be saved for posterity.

Have you paddled . . .
the Santa Fe? High Springs area. Talk to Lars.

Also, I’ve said this before - it’s not a good idea to get yourself into really remote unpopulated areas where you may encounter large alligators. Some of those small creeks and lowland areas may hold some dangerous surprises. I try to only paddle in alligator-managed areas. If you think there’s no risk, see Lars’ boat.

Yes I have paddled the Santa Fe
I also enjoy seeing gators.

Naturally I give the grand dads the right of way




Geez Jack…
You managed to squeeze more toys on that Ford Escape than my husband and I can get onto both our vehicles (and they are both Hummers). I want you to pack my suitcases the next time I take a vacation.

You shoud see the Ford F-150

– Last Updated: Dec-02-09 7:18 PM EST –

which is semi packed this evening and hopefully will be done tomorrow, so we can beat the snow that is coming here Saturday, for our four month trip to the south land.
I addition to the two yaks, the canoe, and the mountain bikes we are stuffing two homegrown Christmas trees on the roof. One for Scupper Frank in Miami, and the other to grace the camp ground at Bahia Honda.

Do I really need front and rear tie downs for the trees ?


Just the boats,
but if the trees are small enough, you may be able to wrap them and stuff them in the kayaks for transport. Our kayaks make great transport storage for pillows, towels, blankets . . . light stuff - with the cockpit covers on. (No gray thangs in the Terns)