Trip Number: 13433A
Staff: Patrick Nichols
- Stay in riverside cabins
- Paddle pristine springs
- All meals
- All kayaks and kayaking gear
- Local guides, local knowledge, local cuisine
- Transportation and shuttles during the trip kayak, and instruction
Discover the wild beauty that lured people to Florida long before the theme
parks. Spend a week paddling crystalline springs and drifting on quiet waterways.
Relish long, sunny days in a subtropical paradise. We will progress across Florida
to a liquid landscape. Enjoy snorkeling, birding, Southern-style dinners, and
On this trip we will kayak five scenic bodies of water. Blue herons, spoonbills,
woodpeckers, anhinga, hawks, and eagles all live here. Cool spring-fed rivers
and subtropical forest offer outstanding opportunities for swimming, exploring,
and play. Every afternoon we will return to our home base.
Our trip will offer a variety of waterways to paddle, each with its own challenges
and charms. Highlights include kayaking at the mouth of a spring where manatees
winter and raise their young, and paddling down a wild and remote inland black-water
river. A crystal-clear spring originating deep within the aquifer will transport
us through a real Florida jungle.
This will be a wonderful opportunity for new and seasoned paddlers to see and
experience the real Florida.
Day 1: We meet and greet at Silver River State Park at 4 p.m.
After our cabin assignments and dry land kayaks demo we gather up for our first
meal. Spend the evening hiking or strolling down to the Silver River.
Day 2: Blue Spring State Park covers more than 2,600 acres,
including the largest spring on the St. Johns River. Blue Spring is a designated
Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees.
After a stroll and swim we kayak the St. Johns River. Alligators and birds abound
in this north-flowing waterway.
Day 3: Today we have a seven-mile spring run! Discharging cool,
clear freshwater at a rate of 107 cubic feet per second, Alexander Springs is
one of the favorite destinations on the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway. The
springs are a major scuba site, as well as a stop on the Great Florida Birding
Day 4: Rainbow River is our destination. We will paddle up
to the head spring and explore an old Florida attraction that's been turned
in to a state park. After lunch we paddle and drift downstream. This river is
crystal clear all the way!
Day 5: We will see the famous Silver Springs and glass bottom
boats today. Paddling upstream to the headwaters usually rewards us with sightings
of monkeys. These guys are descendents of extras brought in to make the original
Tarzan movies. As we kayak the Silver River it is easy to see why Hollywood
choose this location. Exotic birds and jungle sounds make you think Tarzan could
swing down on a vine at any time.
Day 6: Juniper Springs, the crown jewel of Ocala National Forest.
The water is sparkling clear, cool (72 degrees year-round) and great for a refreshing
swim. The head-spring area has a swimming area and a first-rate nature trail
that takes you along the pristine spring creek run. Our seven-mile paddle will
take approximately four hours.
Day 7: Start the day with a morning hike and then say goodbye.
After our final breakfast, we will gather up our belongings by 9 a.m. and depart
for the airport.
This trip will operate under a permit from the Ocala National Forest.
Silver River State Park is located just east of Ocala Florida. Participants
can access directions from the internet. If you need more detailed directions
contact Patrick Nichols at 407-616-6359.
Accommodations and Food
Accommodations are very nice "Cracker Style" cabins. The rooms are
shared and quite comfortable. Expansive porches with rocking chairs make for
a marvelous homey atmosphere. Food will reflect the local cuisine served with
Southern style. Expect outstanding meals such as fire-grilled salmon and perhaps
a cajun shrimp creole. The leaders will prepare the food and participants will
get to help clean up.
This trip is suitable for most beginner kayakers. If you are fit and flexible
or a seasoned kayaker you will enjoy these spectacular paddle locations.
Equipment and Clothing
All kayaks and kayak gear is included. A detailed list of recommendations
will be sent to all participants.
- Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan, Cross Creek.
- Van Doren, Mark, Travels of William Bartram.
- Smith, Patrick D., A Land Remembered.
- Larson, Gary, There is a Hair in My Dirt.
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.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips