Suwannee at high water.
Hwy 6 Bridge to
Suwannee Canoe Outpost
1 canoe -
Lonny Erickson & Line
Water Levels at White Springs
(according to Suwannee River Water Management District Website
http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us ) :
April 5th : 71.1
April 6th : 70
April 7th : 68.7
tried to note some easy to spot reference points so you can estimate your spot
on the river (and adjust compared to our paddling times)
-We had the Upper Suwannee Map from
the Suwannee Canoe Outpost and a compass, no GPS unfortunately so locations are
- these levels are very high so the
current sped up our paddling times.
-There were many dangerous trees
(strainers) in the water- avoid at all costs!
Outpost Map is a great resource but isnt detailed enough to show all turns on
the river, so we were often guessing about our exact location. For those who
prefer detailed topographic maps, you get them at topozone.com (1 :25 000 maps
Day 1: Saturday, April 5th
As Bill Logan mentioned in
his book, there is a Wal-Mart superstore just south of the
Interstate in Live Oak (open 24 hours) great place to get your groceries and ice
before putting in.
Put-in was at the Hwy 6 Bridge, Mile
195.5 on map @ 3 :30 PM.
Road beside bridge was muddy because of receding floodwaters. Saw a group from
Blazing Paddles Canoe Club and set off to find our campsite.
Getting a good site was a priority
because of the time of day and the high water. After checking out some sandy but
too small sites and getting bitten by fire ants (thank god we had shoes on), we
passed a few old trailers on the right. My partner then saw a small clearing on
the right riverbank barely visible through the trees. It was actually the end
of a road/trail that made a great site- road was flooded 50 feet back so there
was no risk of people driving up in the middle of the night.
The variety of noises we heard was
incredible- small animals rooting around in the bush, frogs, barking dogs, cows,
the odd car or train in the distance, birds, whatever. At one point (2AM?) was
unable to sleep but finally got used to it
The river dropped 6 inches during the
night. We could see the high water marks on trees and debris caught in branches
a few feet above the water level.
Day 2: Sunday, April 6th
On the river at 8AM.
9:00: We passed a good spot on the left at the beginning of a curve to the
right of the river, perhaps around mile 190.5.
9:25 Heading south, the river divided
(surprise!) where there was a sandbar on the point. We took the large fork to
the left. Point looked like a good camp spot.
9:30 on a right curve, small river on
left flowing out of the Suwannee. Perhaps some creeks have reversed at this
9:50 sand and boat ramp on left.
10:00 Wooden stairs on right leading
up to a small camp (photo may follow)
10:05 concrete boat ramp on left
grassy area and clearing (Cone Bridge?)
11:00 sandy area on right perhaps
11:40 SRWMD boundary on left- red
pole and yellow sign- at mile 181.5
13:00 Remnants of Goodwin Bridge
you see 4 rusted metal poles and danger signs for Big Shoals. Keep left-there
are a couple of red and white signs and before a right curve the portage is well
indicated on a brown sign. This sign was just barely out of the water when we
passed. (photo to come).
At this level, Big Shoals was totally
washed out. Many power boats were taking advantage of the high levels (it was
Sunday) and were boating up Big Shoals which is rarely possible. We stopped to
scout the rapids- LOTS of current but no large waves at this level. As we have a
royalex canoe with flotation, all of our equipment was attached firmly in the
canoe, and experience in class 3-4 whitewater, we ran the shoals in the middle
cautiously, but a portage is definitely preferred as any problems would have
meant a long and dangerous swim in strong current (and lots of rocks at lower
levels). It is definitely worth putting in above Big Shoals (Goodwin Bridge Rd
is one option) and the portage is easy and makes a good campsite also.
13: 45 Little Shoals- totally washed
out- didnt see anything. Met a few motorboats asking how far it was to Big
15:05 passed the SR 136 bridge and
the Spring hose on the right. If you refer to the picture on the Outpost Map,
only 2 of the holes in the concrete were out of the water.
We found a site on the right on a
curve to the left across from a sandbar, probably at mile 165. There was a small
path up to a clearing at the end of a road. Seemed to be undeveloped building
lots. We elected to camp on a very small sandbar by the waters edge. The fire
ring should still be visible. Cell phone worked because of nearness to I-75.
Saw a snake when looking for wood-
beige with brown squares. (Webmaster
Note: OOPS! No
snakes here with "Squares" However, tan with black and brown "Diamonds"
are prevalent and are Eastern Diamondback rattlers. Keep your
when paddling at high water, snakes also seek high ground.
This day was also interesting because we saw 3
gators. They were enjoying the sun on the riverbank but leapt into the water
when they saw us, making a big splash, so had to be quick to get a look. Also
saw a deer.
Day 3: Monday, April7th
Underway early at 7:10 AM. (from about mile
165). Went under I-75 bridge at 8:10, got a few friendly honks from truckers.
In this area on left was a cabin with
yellow gator crossing sign. Just after this there was a paddleboat caught in a
tree on the left. Perhaps it will still be there (but 10 feet in the air) if you
Around 159 to 157- many sites on R
with sand bars. Saw a couple of turtles.
9:40 beautiful sandbar site on right
(around mile 153).
9:50 gazebo on the right
We ate lunch while more or less
floating in the canoe- so did a lot more mileage.
12 noon Suwannee Springs on the left-
just before bridge. Wall was completely underwater- we paddled over it and into
12:17 arrived at Canoe Outpost. Great
General comments: We had a hard time
deciding which section to do because some prefer White Springs to the Outpost
while others prefer from Fargo to White Springs. We ended up paddling a lot
longer and putting in longer days than planned and came out a day early. Id
definitely recommend planning on a shorter section to have a more relaxed trip,
but its good to do your research and consider how many hours of paddling per
day youd like to do, how many breaks, weather, number of people in group, etc.
We were really glad to have seen both
sections (from Hwy 6 to White Springs and from White Springs to the Canoe
Outpost). The upper section was wilder but also had more current, while the
lower section was wider, and slower with more sandbars. It was quite an
experience to see it at this level and would be great to come back at normal
levels to see the difference.
Hope this is useful -well send some
photos to be posted when weve scanned them.
Lonny Erickson & Line Germain
Website with links on Canadian