Wilderness paddling in Southeast

Greetings paddle buddies,

I took a trip on the Okefenokee this spring and had a great time. It was my third trip to the refuge and one of the best. I’m looking for similar places to paddle multiple days (hopefully, with very little traffic). Anyone have any thoughts?


Have only driven over it but the
Atchafalya(sp) Basin in Louisiana is about as wild as they come.

Congaree National Park near Columbia,SC is pretty wild, even though close to civilization.

Lake Fontana in western NC has the Great Smoky Mountains NP all along one shore.

A couple come to mind
Alabama Scenic River Trail – they have a web site.

Also, the Sipsey River in Bankhead National Forest.

Most anywhere on the Coosa River or even the Cahaba.

These range from big open rivers to very intimate creeks with incredible scenery – and anywhere from about 2 days to a month or so.


A couple

– Last Updated: Aug-22-11 1:35 PM EST –

The Suwannee River from Fargo Georgia to White Springs
Florida. It is wilderness and pristine with white sand banks on almost every turn, (perfect for camping).
But check the water level first. right now it is too low

Also the Lumber River In the NC low country. There are sections where you can go for miles in wilderness

The Everglades National Park and it's 10,000 Islands is wonderful when you get into the back country

jack L

Jack L

Roanoke River swamps
You can camp on platforms in the swamp. You could go about 130 miles from the last rapids below the town of Weldon, NC, to the Albemarle Sound.

See www.roanokeriverpartners.org

FL panhandle
There are several rivers that flow southerly from SE Alabama through the FL panhandle to the gulf. I’ve done a few, all were great (at least in late winter/early spring) and are relatively low-use. My fave has been the Choctawhachee. Here’s a great website for info from the Northwest Florida Water Mgmt District:


Various blackwater rivers in the Southeast provide near-wilderness conditions, such as the Satilla in Georgia, Black River and Lumber River in NC.

If you are comfortable paddling along the coast, the Outer Banks in NC has extensive stretches of near wilderness along Hatteras Island, Ocracoke Island, Portsmouth Island, Core Banks. Further south in NC, you can paddle from Hammocks Beach State Park to Bear Island, which is totally undeveloped except for some picnic tables and showers. (I’ve written a trip report with photos elsewhere on this site.) The Alligator River, Phelps Lake State Park area in Eastern NC is also very close to wilderness conditions, with lots of great paddling.

Black Creek - Mississippi’s only National Scenic River flows through the DeSoto national forest

Pascagoula River - Longest natural flowing river in the US, largely through protected wilderness areas.

Horn Island- 12 miles offshore

Florida paddle
the Ocklawaha River is the western and northern boundary of the Ocala National Forest and enters the St Johns River that is the eastern boundry. Its an easy 4-5 day paddle thru some beautiful REAL Florida! see website for Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost, and there are outfitters concessions at Salt Springs,Juniper Springs and Alexander Springs recreation areas within the National Forest and would be good side trips. A side trip up the Silver River to Silver Spring, that flows 7 miles and into the Ocklawaha, is always nice. Wild Macaque monkeys live along the Silver River; DO NOT FEED! Same for gators!

Two Paw Dog,

Jacksonville, FL

Chesapeake Bay Gateways
is a good resource to find an area you may like to paddle in MD and VA.


I can specifically recommend the Mathews Bluewater Trails, lightly developed in places along the shoreline but still mostly vestiges of its fishing/crabbing history, lots of estuaries and creeks and open shoreline, yet still remotely civilized with insignificant traffic (it is one of my favorite paddling places); also the Eastern Shore NWR, and Kiptopeke State Park area. Near the Eastern Shore NWR there is also state maintained Mockhorn Island Wildlife Management Area that is quite isolated and primitive.

In NC, several good areas have already been mentioned. Consider also Cape Lookout, the area around Ft. Fisher/Baldhead Island (recommended only for more advanced seakayakers with proper experience and equipment, the Cape Fear river in this area is nothing to be trifled with), and various areas around the Neuse River. Also Alligator River NWR is a good place to go for a very remote backcountry experience… really remote. Then there is alway Dismal Swamp NWR.

Are we lucky to . . .
Be living here in the South – or what!!!

So much beautiful water, so little time.

You said it, ginger!
So much variety, so much opportunity.

I’ll never leave.
Between here in the beautiful high country of NC, and in the winter, the Florida Keys, we padlle year round.

Lakes, white water and black water rivers, swamps, the Gulf and the Atlantic; we have it all

Jack L

We are lucky!
Yes, some great destinations! Thanks one and all for your thougths!

Golden Isles on the Georgia Coast
Georgia has 100 miles of salt marsh protected by barrier islands. Most of the islands can not be reached except by water or air. I’ve spent the last three years paddling the salt marshes on the leeward side of the islands and it’s never been the same on each trip.

GPTV has a great feature video of the islands; I’ve probably watched it half a dozen times. It’s either really good or I have too much free time.


the South
Living in the south, it’s interesting to read the normal upper midwest/new england/canada canoe trip info and how they refer to the “paddling season” as Memorial Day to Labor Day. For me, that’s the “stay in the house all day with the A/C on” season and Labor Day to Memorial Day is the paddling season, with Oct, Nov, Feb, and Mar being my favorite months for tripping. Damn yankees with their northern-biased propaganda!