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On the Suwannee River

Destination: White Springs, FL

Some people refer to this area as Old Florida, some call it the Real Florida. Many years ago it was a popular tourist destination because of its unique clear springs (some with reputed health benefits) and unsurpassed wild beauty. But as Florida tourism moved to the beaches and theme parks, this part became less known, leaving remnants of a more prosperous past. Which is a shame because it is an amazing place: the dark and ever-changing Suwannee River, the crystal clear springs of the Ichetucknee River, old cypress swamps rich in wildlife - all will leave you enchanted and feeling like you've stumbled on an amazing secret. Maximum group size: 13

Highlights

  • Learning about the natural history & the equally fascinating human history of this area
  • Paddling among huge old cypress trees that have lived there for hundreds of years
  • Experiencing both a blackwater river and a spring-fed crystal clear river
  • Stopping often to take pictures and watch wildlife
  • Enjoying quiet cabins and hearty meals after active days (and of course, singing "Old Folks at Home")

Departures and Prices

March 07 to March 10, 2020
$1230.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size and a local expert naturalist (male)
  • Three nights lodging
  • All meals from lunch on the first day though lunch on the last
  • Round-trip transportation from the Jacksonville (JAX) airport
  • Canoe and kayak rental and instruction
  • Entrance fees

Not included: airfare to Jacksonville, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and trip insurance

Details

We have rated this trip a 2 because all activities are 3 to 4 hours in length, with the option to not join a half-day if you choose. It is appropriate for active women in basic good health with sufficient mobility to get in and out of canoes and kayaks. No previous paddling or hiking experience is required.The trip is rated 2. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be walking regularly at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

We'll be paddling canoes on the Suwannee and kayaking on the Ichetucknee River, hiking various trails, swimming in clear waters, and learning about the rich human and natural history of this largely undiscovered area. An expert local naturalist will accompany us on much of the trip; he loves this area and has spent the last 40 years learning about and exploring it, and enjoys sharing both his knowledge and his passion.

We will be staying in spacious 2 bedroom cabins at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center Park. Each cabin has one bedroom with a double bed and another bedroom with a bunk bed (the lower bunk is a double bed and the upper is a single) there are ladders to get to the top bunk. The cabins share a bathroom, as well as living room and kitchenette, heating and cooling, a gas fireplace, and screened porch. They are equipped with linens and kitchen utensils. Picnic tables and grills are located outside each cabin. The cabins do not provide soap, shampoo, conditioner or items of that nature, you should plan to bring your own.

A limited number of single supplements are available at an additional cost if you would like to ensure you have a single bedroom. You can select this option at registration.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1

Our trip starts at the Jacksonville airport (JAX) at 10:00 am when your guides pick you up. We'll drive about 90 minutes west, where we'll encounter a landscape of clear springs, old forests, and winding rivers. We'll meet our local expert naturalist guide who will be with us for much of the trip and whose expertise in biology and geology adds immeasurably to our understanding and enjoyment of the area. After a picnic lunch in Big Shoals State Park, we'll start our exploration with a hike on the Bell Springs Trail up to Big Shoals, Florida's only class III whitewater, known for its small waterfall. The trail, a section of the much longer Florida Trail, follows the Suwannee River and is an out-and-back; if you don't feel like hiking all the way to the Shoals, you can sit and gaze at the river. The Hawthorne formation which caps our limestone and protects the Floridan aquifer is exposed along the way.


After our hike, we will settle in tonight, letting the feel of the area start to seep into our bones.
DAY 2
Today, after a relaxing breakfast, we turn to canoes for a completely different view of the Suwannee River. The Suwannee River is a blackwater river, so called because of the tannins that leach from the decaying vegetation of the surrounding forested swamps or wetlands, creating an acidic darkly stained water. The river is largely protected and we'll paddle a section from State Road 6 to Cone Bridge, about 5 hours, including time for paddling instruction and stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch on a beautiful sandbar. This stretch still retains some of the characteristics of the Deep Swamps and floodplains that leave the Okefenokee Swamp, with towering cypress, pines, and the oddly beautiful Ogeechee tupelo. We'll take our time on this stretch, so we have to get out on sandbars, go swimming, and drink in the natural world.
DAY 3

This morning we drive about 45 minutes south to Ichetucknee Springs State Park. This park is particularly noted for the crystal clear Headspring, which feeds the Ichetucknee River. In contrast to the blackwater of the Suwannee, the water here is a clear aquamarine, making it possible to see the river bottom's fish and plants as we float on top. After first visiting the headspring, we return once more to kayaks and paddle for about two hours, past springs and tons of egrets, herons, and turtles. We'll pull out and enjoy lunch before hopping back in the van.


We leave the rest of the afternoon open so we'll have time to pursue any interest we may have developed, hike along the Suwannee or bike in Stephen Foster State Park, visit the local craftsmen who display their skills in the park, or simply sit on the front porch swing and take some well-deserved R&R. Tonight we'll share a final farewell dinner and toast our new found appreciation of Florida.


DAY 4

We’ll spend the morning back on the river in canoes or kayaks, paddling down river to the Suwannee Canoe Outpost. In contrast to the relatively wide river of Tuesday, the Suwannee is quite different here, much narrower and more twisty. This stretch of limestone bluffs has cut into the limestone of the Floridan aquifer and is the start of the world's highest concentrations of springs. We will stop at Suwannee Springs, a turn of the 19th and 20th century health resort built around the sulphur spring water. After a final picnic lunch, we’ll have you back at the Jacksonville Airport by 2:30 you can plan to fly out anytime after 4:00.


*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

This was, to me, a novel and even exotic destination--never heard of it (other than the song, of course!) I was delighted with the variety of activities we did and the wonderful women i met.

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


An opportunity to canoe! Learning how to paddle a kayak with ease. Great gudes. Beautiful rivers. Interesting and enjoyable travel partners. Fun in every way.

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


How can I choose just one?? Loved our cabin, the women, the water, the sunshine!

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


Learning a new skill

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


There was a flow to the trip....nice and easy. Liked the location, the activities, the people, the guides, the food.

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


Swimming in the spring fed pool and seeing 3 manatees in a river. Plus, avocados for lunch on Saturday!.

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


Paddling on the ravishing rivers--both of them.

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


I greatly appreciated the chance to both canoe and kayak and then given a choice on the last day. Being on two different rivers was also a highlight for me. They were so different and unique, and they each had amazing things to see and experience.

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


The trip was very well organized. I love the multi sport format with hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. The women this trip attracted were phenomenal. Haven't laughed this much in a long time. Interesting, passionate, active, fun. I thought the guides Deb and Sarah were also wonderful. Nice mix of personalities. Food was perfect. And the cabins!!! Wow. I could have just stayed there another week. Beautiful area.

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


Kayaking with manatee in a beautiful river

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


Paddling the rivers! Interactions with participants. Interaction with local naturalist

On the Suwannee River 3/8/2019-3/11/2019


The guides, both AGC and local, were excellent. Also loved the State Park cabins. The other participants were friendly and fun.

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


I had a great time. The other participants were welcoming and l was impressed that some of the women came on their own. I know that's not an easy thing to do. The guides handled the mix up in lodging without freaking out (at least in front of us). The lodging we had was above my expectation.

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


Great guides kept their cool despite many obstacles on this trip. Good meals. Great itinerary. Fun women. Love the all women trips you offer. So much more relaxed

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


The actual trip reflected what was described hence the activities, lodging, food, etc. met my expectations.

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


I loved the kayaking on the ichetucknee river, and could have done a whole lot more of that. I also wish we could have at least seen the Blue hole, but know that weather was a factor. Canoeing was nice, but 10 miles was a little long, but I could see that there were not alot of other options for safe take out spots so that might be why it was so long. 10 miles for someone that doesn't canoe is long. This was probably the only voiced comment I heard on the trip. It was nice having a guide on the river with Dennis's knowledge.

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


Not sure what I was expecting but I was not impressed with this trip. The "hike" was pretty well uneventful. There must be a better path/trail somewhere near there to walk. Canoeing was OK but 10 miles is a really long trip for beginning canoers. I started to get bored and was really looking forward to the end of the trip. Maybe it would help to have at least 2 other stops in additiion to lunch. If people weren't asking to stop for bathroom pruposes then they weren't drinking enough! Kayaking was OK but nothing spectacular to me.

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


Deb and Sarah were remarkable at rolling with the punches of organizational glitches and the weather!

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


Kayaking the second day.

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


Learning how to canoe and kayak and the interactions with the women.

On the Suwannee River 3/17/2018-3/20/2018


I can't say it exceeded expectations, because I didn't really have clear expectations, this being my first group travel experience.

On the Suwannee River 3/25/2017-3/28/2017


Location. Kayak on Icherucknee River. Group was an interesting mix.

On the Suwannee River 3/25/2017-3/28/2017


Dottie and Dennis are a delight and meals were good as were the paddling experiences

On the Suwannee River 3/25/2017-3/28/2017


The guides, Lisa and Sarah were great and very welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. My fellow travelers were amazing.

On the Suwannee River 3/25/2017-3/28/2017


Loved the hike on the Bells Spring trail to the rapids and falls, wished it was longer. First time canoeing which was great. kayaking at Ichetucknee springs and of course the Suwannee River

On the Suwannee River 3/25/2017-3/28/2017


I kayaked for the first time and really enjoyed the quiet and aloneness. Also swimming in a clear pool of clean spring water was great. The guides were superb.

On the Suwannee River 3/25/2017-3/28/2017


Kayaking on various rivrts6

On the Suwannee River 3/25/2017-3/28/2017


  1. Where do we eat?

    The guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners in the cabins. You will go out for one dinner. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' for you to eat along the river or the guides will pack a picnic lunch that you can enjoy.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. The cabins are lovely and have two bedrooms, one with a queen bed and the other with a bunk bed. (this is a classic bunk bed with one bed above the other, the room is for 2 people). If you request a single supplement you will be in the room with a queen bed. They also have a lovely sitting area, porch, bathroom and galley kitchen.
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