Florida Guide > Florida History
Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
I am sure some of you will be familiar with the George Gershwin song Swanee River made famous by Al Jolson back in the 1930s , but are you aware that the lyrics refer to Florida’s very own Suwannee River?
Rising in Fargo, Georgia and discharging into the Gulf of Mexico the river flows through two hundred and fifty miles of changing landscapes and areas of outstanding natural beauty. All but the first thirty five miles are in Florida and the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail opens up over one hundred and seventy miles of navigable waterway right down to the estuary at the town of Suwannee itself.
Intrepid explorers can begin their adventure at White Springs which is situated midway between Jacksonville and Tallahassee and can be easily reached by either the I-75 or alternatively the I-10. Here the river is flanked by magnificent limestone cliffs and towering pines. With its slow current and shallow water the area is a favourite spot for weekenders who can enjoy picnics and paddling in comparative safety.
The stretch of river between Dowling Park and the town of Brantford has an abundance of natural springs and it is difficult to resist the temptation for a cooling swim in the clear waters on a baking hot day.
The river widens considerably in its lower reaches and tends to attract jet skiers and motor boats. It is also an excellent area for fishing where anglers can choose between sea water and freshwater catches.
From the description given of this 170-mile trail so far, the reader could be forgiven for thinking this is a popular destination for tourists…. it is not. Away from the towns and recreational areas this really is a wilderness where at times the only sound can be that of your own heartbeat. It’s a place to be at one with nature, to enjoy the flora, fauna and abundant wildlife that is the lifeblood of the river.
The serious kayaker would do well to plan their trip in advance as distance travelled depends very much on time available, and around fifteen miles a day would seem to be a reasonable target.
Strategically placed a days paddle apart are small towns and parks all of which offer food and accommodation. This means that exploring the Wilderness Trail doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare months in the planning, and the visitor can travel with just the minimum of provisions.
From whichever point you enter the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail its irresistible charm will stay long in the memory and is sure to lure you back for another visit.
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