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Suwannee River (Upper) Canoe Trail

The Suwannee River (Upper) Canoe Trail is officially designated as part of Florida’s Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. The Suwannee River, made famous in the song by Stephen Foster, originates in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Suwannee comes from the creek word meaning “echo”, and at places along the river, you can hear how the river got its name. Many people enjoy paddling the entire length of this legendary river over a one or two week trip; however, numerous access points along the trail make it easy to customize your trip. The river flows through pristine river swamp with oaks, pines, palmettos, and tall cypress. Along the bends of the river, you will often find white sand beaches, many of which make good campsites. The woodlands are home for a variety of wildlife. You can often see deer, raccoon, otter, and the toothmarked trees that are evident of beaver. Overhead, red-tailed hawk and osprey fly in lazy circles. Songbirds, including the parula warbler, call from the trees, and long-legged wading birds including the great blue heron silently search the shallow waters for food. Limestone outcrops line the banks. Ancient ocean fossils in the limestone are evidence of a time when the shoreline extended further inland and the sea covered much of present day Florida. Arrowheads and pottery fragments indicate early human habitation. Near the junction of the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee Rivers, you can see the remains of earthworks built by Confederate troops to protect the railroad bridge over the Suwannee. A number of sparkling springs that are perfect for cooling dip feed the Suwannee River all along the trail. There are several sets of challenging shoals. Above White Springs, you encounter “Big Shoals” rapid. You can hear the roar of the rapids long before you come to them. Even experienced paddlers are recommended to portage these dangerous rapids. The upper Suwannee River ends at Suwannee River State Park. The Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center is also accessible from the river.

Major Activities: paddling
Counties: Suwannee, Columbia, Hamilton
Mileage: 69
Skill Level: Beginner, except for rapids
Difficulty: Easy
Usual Current: Average (2-3 mph)

Notes and Precautions
There are numerous shoals exposed in low water. Approach with caution and portage if necessary. Big Shoals above White Springs is a dangerous white water area and should be portaged. Portage on the left bank. Allow 7 – 14 days to paddle the entire length of the Suwannee River. You can begin the trail at Fargo, Georgia or in the Okefenokee Swamp. It is illegal to leave cars on the bridge of I-75.

Access

SR 6 Bridge – Take SR 135 7 miles north of White Springs to SR 6. Turn east and go less than 1 mile to bridge.

Cone Bridge Road – Take SR 441 north of I-10 14.7 miles. Turn west on Cone Bridge Road. (8.9 miles)

Big Shoals Public Lands – Take SR 135 north of White Springs 3.5 miles. Turn right to recreation area. (9.7 miles)

US 41 Bridge – 1 mile southeast of White Springs. (6 miles)

SR 136 Bridge – At White Springs. (2.2 miles)

US 129 Bridge – Suwannee Springs. From I-10, take US 129 north; just before bridge, turn right to springs. (19.6 miles)

CR 249 Bridge – From Live Oak, take SR 249 north to bridge. (15 miles)

Suwannee River State Park – Off US 90. (7.6 miles)

There may be access points (both public and private) in addition to those listed here. Please remember that some sites require a fee for launching and/or parkin