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Mudfish and Bobcat at the Suwannee River - Paddle Suwannee - Kayak, CanoeMudfish and Bobcat at the Suwannee River - Paddle Suwannee - Kayak, Canoe

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Reported: Nov. 2011

Upper Suwannee River... Paddling in North Florida

The Suwannee River - made famous by the Stephen Foster song "Old Folks at Home," now Florida's state song - is a federally designated wild river flowing from the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia 240 miles to the Gulf of Mexico at Suwannee (north of Cedar Key).  (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 40 miles (Stephen Foster State Park to Suwannee River State Park)
Location: Hamilton and Suwannee Counties
Difficulty Easy to Difficult
Tidal: No
Launch points: White Springs (US 41 bridge), Stephen Foster State Park (bring wheels!), Suwannee Springs (bring wheels!), Suwannee River State Park (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: White Springs, Spirit of Suwannee Music Park (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park & Campground

Originating at White Springs is the 170 mile Suwannee River Wilderness Trail - on this page we focus on 40 miles along the Upper Suwannee, from White Springs to Suwannee River State Park and probably the most beautiful section of the whole river. Here, the river is narrow with high banks lined with pine and cypress; the 22 springs feeding the river increase its size and volume as it continues downstream.

On the Upper Suwannee, the current is generally moderate and an easy paddle, although the current can get more treacherous at high water. During periods of low water some areas may not navigable, others may need some portage over exposed rocks. Whitewater areas are at Big Shoals, Ellaville, and Little Shoals; inexperienced paddlers are urged to portage around the shoals. Abundant wildlife and fishing (Florida freshwater fishing license is required).

Paddling at Upper Suwannee River
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
White Springs
White Springs, once a popular resort with 14 hotels, still maintains a Victorian charm including a Historic District (listed on the National Register of  Historic Places) with its shops and folk art shops, homes and churches.
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Launch at Rte. 41 bridge We wondered about the story behind this US 41 bridge Water levels were very low, exposing
the rocks and banks
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      Historic White Springs. The Telford (right) is the last remaining of 14 hotels
Stephen Foster State Park
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park has parking and restrooms, plus a museum, craft square, educational programs, picnicking, playground, hiking, camping and more. The Carillon Tower has the world's largest tubular bell instrument with concerts scheduled daily. The Florida National Scenic Trail is along the river through the park.
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Launch at Stephen Foster State Park - bring wheels! Views of the Suwannee River Stephen Foster Museum Carillon Tower
Suwannee Springs
The Suwannee Springs Recreation Area is the site of an old sulfur spring that was once a premier tourist attraction. The old spring house remains, visitors can picnic and swim in the spring or along the river bank.
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Path to the launch - bring wheels! Low water created this wide beach Remains of the spring Suwannee Springs was an early tourist attraction
Suwannee River State Park
Suwannee River State Park in Live Oak, Florida, has boat ramp, launch, cabins, camping, fishing, nature trail and hiking, and picnicking. Remnants of a Civil War fortification remain, as well as an old cemetey.
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Launch at Suwannee River State Park Mudfish shares a message about his sturgeon relatives

More information on paddling at Suwannee River (opens in a new window):

- Florida State Parks - Suwannee River State Park
- Florida State Parks - Suwannee River Wilderness Trail

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Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Upper Suwannee River

Outfitters/Rentals

American Canoe Adventures

Suwannee Canoe Outpost


Support and Advocacy

Stephen Foster Citizen Support Organization


White Springs, Florida, weather forecast