Suwannee trip report -

a family adventure ! - 4/6/07

White Springs to Suwannee River State Park,

at extreme low water.
by Anthony Dziergowski
Posted 4/13/07

  My family and I just returned from a great trip at low water levels (approx. 50' to 50.5') with my wife and two small boys. We departed from the Canoe Outpost at the Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, around 12:30PM Saturday. With one stop around 4 miles down on a large sandy bank to the right, we made pretty good time with very relaxed paddling.
   The good part about paddling at low water is there are great campsites everywhere.

     "Way down upon the Suwannee River" -- with wife and two small kids.

We arrived at Holton Creek River Camp (about 7.8 miles from the Canoe Outpost) around 4:00 PM and set up camp.

These river camps are an incredible addition to the Suwannee River Trail and made the experience terrific for the family. We reserved a shelter the week before through the Florida State Parks website (look under Suwannee Wilderness Trail) and received a warm welcome from the camp host Doug who stays there with his wife Myra. They have played a key role in the development of these river camps and can offer a wealth of information about the project as well as sights to see on your trip downriver. We arrived to a reserved shelter, with a ceiling fan, light and power outlet. They also had their own fire pit/gill and tables. A larger community campfire circle is set off overlooking the river from a high bank. The camp host had a hand cart at the top of the steps to help with our gear and there were three stacks of freshly cut wood at our shelter. The screened shelters are large enough to set up a tent in if the elements require it. I set up a three person tent for my wife and kids given the wind and low temps (mid 40's), and still had plenty of room for our gear and my sleeping area. I would estimate the shelters to be around 15'X15' or so.
   Our cabin at Holton Creek River camp.

The central bathrooms are spotless and climate controlled. And there is a community covered picnic area as well. There are only 5 shelters and 2 primitive camps, so I can't imagine it ever getting two crazy there. There are currently 3 of these camps in operation and plans to open at least 2 or 3 more within the next year I believe.

The next day we loaded up with Doug's help and set off. We got a late start and needed to meet our shuttle at the State Park by 2:00PM. Pushing off at 10:15 in cold windy weather made for a little stress considering we had about 13 miles ahead of us. We paddled hard for 2 1/2 hours straight and stopped for about 15 minutes approximately 3 miles from the state park at 5 Hole Springs. These are 5 sink holes that Doug told us about. They are on the right bank were there is a considerable amount of rock formations. It was around 17.5 or so miles from the Outpost. Look for a blue rope swing hanging from a tree on the right bank. Pull off there and climb up the steep bank where you meet the Florida Trail. Walk a little down river and look to your right. You can't miss the first hole and the other four are just beyond it. Its an incredible formation that resemble caves with all the rocks. Careful with kids though as these are easily 20' to 30' deep rocky structures.
We paddled on and arrived at the State Park at exactly 1:57PM to a waiting shuttle. We averaged about 4.5mph that day which felt pretty good considering the water levels. I recommend giving yourself a little more than a 3 minute cushion though. All in all, this was my best paddling experience yet as it was my first overnight with the kids. We intend to bring several people back in the next few months.   Contact me if you have questions . . . Anthony Dziergowski