Trip Number: 13052A
Staff: Patrick Nichols
- Stay in riverside cabins
- Enjoy springtime in sunny florida, with its wildlife and blooming wildflowers
- Snorkel Florida's amazing springs
- All meals
- All kayaks and kayaking gear
- Local guides, local knowledge, local cuisine
- Transportation and shuttles during the trip
Photo: Patrick Nichols
Located in the heart of North Florida's vast forests lie hundreds of large
magnitude crystalline springs that feed several outstanding rivers and waterways,
including the Santa Fe, Suwannee, Ichetucknee, and the Northern Withlacoochee.
These springs were featured in National Geographic Magazine in March of 1999.
Our base camp will be a brand-new lodge at the confluence of the Suwannee and
Northern Withlacoochee rivers. Over the course of the week, we will paddle several
scenic rivers, go tubing down a spring run, snorkel a host of large springs,
and explore an area of Florida with abundant history and culture, and unbridled
Not only is this area of Florida rich in wild beauty, it is also rich in history.
For thousands of years, Timucuan and Apalache Indians hunted and lived in these
areas, leaving behind them tons of evidence of their presence. Pottery shards
and arrowheads litter the banks of the upper Suwannee and Santa Fe. The Famous
William Bartram explored this area during his "travels" and wrote
about it extensively. In the years prior to statehood, pirates would attack
ships in the Gulf and hide up the Suwannee River. It's a known fact that there
is still buried gold at Fowlers Bluff. Scuba divers are always finding Spanish
silver and gold throughout the river during low water. During the War Between
the States, blue coats would hide along the banks of the river and attack Confederate
steamers. There are still remains of such a ship at Troy Spring.
The leaders will make every reasonable effort to meet the goals outlined in
the itinerary. Please keep in mind that weather or other conditions beyond our
control may cause us to modify the itinerary in order to ensure the safety and
well-being of the group.
Day 1: The leaders will pick up all participants at noon at
Orlando International Airport on the first day. We will then make the three-hour
van ride to our base camp, stopping on the way at a restaurant for lunch (not
included in trip price). Basic kayak instruction will be given after dinner
on the first night.
Photo: Patrick Nichols
Days 2-6: Each day we will pick a new location to explore.
We will try to visit most of the places listed below:
Suwannee River State Park
Madison Blue Springs State Park
Peacock Springs State Park
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Troy Springs State Park
Waccissa Springs Unit/River
Santa Fe River
Depending on weather, we might snorkel a spring to observe the remains of
a sunken Confederate war ship or look for fossils and arrowheads. Other days
will be spent paddling a gorgeous section of river with lots of opportunities
to observe wildlife. We will take our time on the water for swims, birding,
snorkeling, and photography. On short paddling days, we will incorporate hikes
on or near the Florida National Scenic Trail. Each day will present something
new to do and see.
In the evenings, we will return to our lodge for big dinners. Nights are reserved
for swims, fishing, relaxing in the springs, or heading out for moonlight strolls.
There is no set itinerary -- each night at dinner the guides will announce the
next day's agenda and suggestions for what you should pack to enjoy the day.
The guides are always available to answer your questions.
Day 7: On the trip's last day, participants will be shuttled
back to the Orlando International Airport around 2 p.m., meaning all airline
flights should be booked for after 4 p.m.
The leaders will pick up all participants at noon at Orlando International
Airport on the first day.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Patrick Nichols
Our lodging will consist of wilderness luxury. The lodge consists of brand-new
Cracker-style cabins with wrap-around porches that overlook the Suwannee River.
There are full amenities, which include air conditioning, full bathrooms, kitchens,
a large living area, dining area, fireplaces, and a porch with lots of swings.
Rooms are double-occupancy.
The leaders will prepare all meals; however, everyone is expected to help clean
up. Meals included in the trip fee begin with dinner on the first day and breakfast
on the last day. Meals served on the trip will honor and reflect local cuisine.
A typical dinner would consist of shrimp and crawfish etouffee, white rice,
garlic bread, fresh salad, and something chocolate for dessert. People with
special diets should contact the leader to make arrangements.
This trip is for anyone interested in exploring several of Florida's greatest
areas by means of a kayak. Kayaking experience is not needed; however, like
most water-based outdoor activities, participants should be strong swimmers
and in good shape. The trip leader is an ACA-certified kayak instructor. This
would be an excellent trip for first-time kayakers. Seasoned kayakers would
also enjoy this trip immensely. On most days we will be on the water for four
to six hours. In case of severe weather the leaders have put together alternative
Equipment and Clothing
A detailed equipment list as well as a trip roster will be sent to all participants.
Kayaks, paddles, and personal floatation devices (PFDs) will be provided. If
you have a fondness for your own paddle or PFD, bring it! Anyone wanting to
drive to the meeting point can request a map with specific directions from the
trip leader. The closest airport is in Tampa or Orlando, Florida. The leader
will be happy to suggest additional nearby destinations for those wishing to
extend their stay after this trip.
- The State of Florida's Nature and Heritage Center: 386.397.4461
- Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park: 386.397.2733
- National Geographic Magazine, March 1999
- Carr, Archie, A Naturalist in Florida, A Celebration of Eden.
- Bartram, William, Travels of William Bartram.
- Sanders, Brad, Guide to William Bartram's Travels.
Photo: Patrick Nichols
Everyone is welcome to share his or her conservation interests -- especially
pertinent to this trip are the new wilderness subdivision, water rights, and
how to become a river steward.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
It's not Patrick Nichols' 35 years of wilderness experience or his extensive background as an outdoor enthusiast and wilderness educator that distinguish his tours from the ordinary. It is the exquisite attention to detail: from gourmet cuisine to the intricacies of paddling on quiet waters propelled by kayak. He is an ACA instructor, has trained with Red Cross water safety and is a wilderness first responder. His calling is to use the quiet skills of his lifetime to benefit every traveler, to ensure his skills and knowledge are shared by every voyager with an open heart and a curious mind.
Joe Gallelli is a lifelong outdoorsman, active Outings leader, and certified Wilderness First Responder who enjoys sharing has woodcraft skills, native orchid passion, conservation pursuits, wildlife knowledge, and Native American interests with others. He paddles, swims, wades, hikes, backpacks, rambles, and scrambles to be in wildland and wilderness settings. Joe keeps himself fit and is particularly well adapted to camping and paddling in the southeast USA aquatic and marine environments.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips