Recommended Kayak Trip in the Southeast for the Winter?

Hello! My friend and I got really into paddling in 2020, we live in NYC. While we explored NYC and the surrounding areas via kayak, it’s a bit too cold to paddle now, and so we’ve been discussing a winter trip to paddle for about a week or two. The idea we are most excited about would be to do a state park, and camp along the way on the river, in a cabin or tent. The second idea is we could do a series of day trips on rivers in the southeast (staying overnight nearby the night before and the night after), we will be a group of four so we can put vehicles in at the put in and put out spots. Any recommendations? Not too strenuous, our favorite trips have been down slow moving rivers filled with trees and nature, so we can experience the beauty of the world around us as we are on the water. We have Perception Swifty 9.5 kayaks and kayak skirts, and we have gear to camp. Doesn’t need to be really hot (we kayaked here in the NE up until Thanksgiving), but warm enough where we could kayak without freezing. Also, are alligators an issue kayaking? This northeaster needs to know! :slight_smile:

The Suwannee River in Florida is a perfect match for you for multi day or short trips. There are several state parks along it and camping areas.
There are many rivers there that are good for shorter paddles like the Silver . It originates at Silver Springs which is now owned by the state.
Alligators are just part of the scenery. As long as you aren’t taking your toy poodle , aka bait, you should be fine.
BTW, the term is ‘take out’.


great thanks! i’ll check it out, and thanks for the terminology!

You’re welcome! There are several paddlers here who live in Florida or spend a lot of time there who may chime in.
Florida is full of people from cold places in the winter so do your research and start working on reservations as soon as you can.

Concur with string about the Suwannee !! Silver Springs or any state/county park on a spring or river is a joy to enjoy and can be used as a base camp if you drive up to an hour to other parks/springs. Lots of options…actually probably too many and almost all are very good to great.

If the weather is nice, the large reservoirs in North Carolina and South Carolina can be pleasant to paddle. The campsites in Keowee are very nice.

I paddle the upstate SC reservoirs , Keowee, Hartwell, and Jocassee. All have parks and good launch areas.
However, I have hung up my paddles until March. The water is getting cold and Swiftys are less than ideal on big water. This time of year I’m thinking Florida or any of the Gulf states.

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These links should give references to paddle trails. The Silver River empties into the Ocklawaha. Launch at Rays wayside, camp at Gore’s landing, 10 miles take out at … At…? At ? The next highway bridge…aka Eureka.

Something I sent outlast year…

Just a note about the Suwannee…its 241 miles long. It starts in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp in GA and travels down to Suwannee on the gulf. The upper section is narrow, often rocky and kept narrow by some rock formations. The other end is wide river with swamps and low lands on either side. It takes more than an afternoon.

There is always the Okfenokee swamp at Folkston, GA. It is the east side of the swamp and close to the I-95. Plenty of trails at the “canal”. Our easiest is to just take the canal on the way out and go straight to the trail across headed west to a chickee, lunch and return. Exploring authorized…

If you are just passing through for an afternoon there is the Harris Chain of lakes. We paddled some blueways trails there but one of our faviorite days was when we Launched at Summerall Park in Taveres (Lake Dora, in Mount Dora) We paddled up the M.Dora canal where the Anghinga and Comerants have nesting trees…and the Ospreys pester them. We then paddled across Lake Eustis , Lake Harris and ended up at Palm Gardens Restaurant and Marina on the Dead River. Lunch on the deck next to our boats. It was as short of a paddle as you want. A sea kayak can paddle faster than the power boats in the no wake zone Dead River. It was great.

Ocklawaha River can be more interesting than the Silver. Silver flows into the Ock. Ock was part of the abandoned Cross Florida Barge canal…More woods less tourists…tourists don’t like work. Of course at the annual meeting we proved that talking and not navigating gives you the opportunity to “explore” new areas. It is kind of far from motels though.

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More stuff…

trip back…Salt springs has more in that area but the paddles from those “annual meet up” take care of most of the out and backs. There is Juniper springs…but its small and shallow. …Another also could be St Augustine area…Paddle the bay at st Aug, very tidal, launch from Vilano boat ramp…we don’t go there much…BUT we do stay at the St Aug Beach KOA and paddle the Mantanzas inlet. … good surfing on ocean waves unimpeaded by swimmers and surfers…Or paddle down the ICW…if interested its another story. Stage Coach RV park usually has overnight sites out by the interstate.

e. The Suwannee river and its tributaries are my favorite. Look at the Suwannee Water management district site for miles, boat ramps, camps. etc.
…1. a favorite RV park is Suwanee River RV Rendevouz (sp?) at Mayo floridia… favorite paddle of ours is paddle 6 miles up stream to the Hwy 51 bride and return. Out and back. They also offer shuttle service to several paddles. We often base camp here and do several Suwannee River, Santa Fe river, Ictchnetucky river and Steinhachie river excersions. Besides where else can you paddle good water, adopt a homing pigeon, play chicken poo bingo, sing Kareoke. and play redneck bowling?
…2 Gilcrest BLue spring State park… at new state park in rough sand sites…I have to carefully select. Paddle from Blue Spring up to the river rise of the Santa Fee river and back. If the water is low you won’t make it past the shoals between Hwy 27 and Hwy 441 but the river is pretty with many springs to explore. Camp was purchased/donated from private parties and they haven’t up graded it yet. Recommend early reservations…florida state parks difficult to get, eleven month rotation on reservations. Recomment High Springs restaurants Great Outdoors, and The Diner.
…3. Itchnetucky (sp) State Park…no camping any kind…this is on Hwy 27 between High Springs and Branford, fl…it is a spring run. March is before they open it up to tubes. We go in at the south gate near where the river corsses the highway. $5 parking…we paddle up stream to the spring head and back…current…clear water, wild life not afraid of people…kind of like Silver River…(salt Springs area) Maybe a 6 mile round trip…can’t remember… Personnally I’ve done it so much its a little boring and not challenging. (New policy they close the last take out on weekends. Take a cart. You can launch at the mid point, but long walk to put in. )

I usually try to stay away from the Orlando area cause there is just a lot of people there. But there are some paddle opportunities there. I can recommend some around the st Johns river…


Timing is important. We used to go to Florida every year for spring break in March. It can be cold well into north Florida and even central Florida. If you have to plan far ahead for winter trip stay in the south part of the state.

I just want to mention that the water can get cold in the New York area in November, so hopefully you are dressed appropriately for that, since capsizes happen.

Just be sure to pick at state that want NY residents! COVID has really cut into vacation plans, that’s for sure.

2 weeks ago I wanted to go to Vermont to do some back road exploring, but Vermont closed it’s borders for non-essential travel. So we went on a same state trip instead.

The Wacissa Is one of my favorite rivers in North Florida. It’s headwaters are just southeast of Tallahassee and is the most beautiful part. You can camp further down at a place called Goose pasture.

If the weather is cold and you wish to go further south, the Calusa Blueway is great. It is saltwater, but has well marked trails and a mess of RV parks along it. It will probably be the best birding opportunity and I have seen Manatees there.

In between those there is the Rainbow River near Dunellon, the Wekiva N, W. of Orlando, and the Hillsborough near Tampa. No camping on the Hillsborough, though Hillsborough State Park has camping. Paddling from the State Park is a pain, though.

Silver Lake, on the Withalacoohee, is a camping area on a wide spot of the river. Get off I-75 at Highway 50 and go east about a mile, you’ll see signs.,

I haven’t seen the Wacissa mentioned yet. Down on the Gulf is the St. Marks River and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
Then there is the Steinhatchee at the town of the same name. I put that one on my don’t go there again list. However, if you want to see THE Real Florida that is close to it.

This is a site that has been a great resource, on planning trips in Florida. It covers most of Florida. It has paddle locations, how to find to the ramps and a write up, of what is there. It was put together, by the great JackL, who used to post here regularly.

Winter north florida water is 50 - 60 degrees. Water in spring runs is 72 degrees near the springs. (Silver, Rainbow, ichnetucky)

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I just did a little birding / bicycling in central Florida. Is the Peace River good for paddling? The water appeared to be up last week and there was considerable flow.

The spring-fed rivers in the southern Missouri Ozarks can be paddled year round because of the reliable water source and water temperature remains in the mid to upper 50s year round because so much of the water is coming from underground. That feels cold in the summer but is usually warmer than air temperature in the winter.

The Current River in Missouri has a number of National Park Service campgrounds spaced at pretty convenient intervals along its length, and many gravel bars eminently suited for camping on the river in between. Water is available at the campgrounds year round. The area is perhaps an hour to an hour and a half farther from NYC than north Florida.

thank you all! my kayak partner and i will look into all of this. thanks for the great advice i’ll keep you posted on our plans. btw i just want to share that i’m new to the kayaking community and 2020 has been my year of discovering kayaking, and it’s really great to see that there’s such nice people who are so welcoming on this forum! thanks so much!

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