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Withlacoochee River (South) #1

Withlacoochee River (south) #1 :  Trails End – Outlet River   Group size: 1 – 24 people Trip length: 3.5 – 4 hours Skill level: Intermediate – advanced Cost: This one is $50 per person ($39 for “wanna go” members). With your own boat it’s $40 per person ($29 for members). The launch site is about 1.5 hour drive south from Gainesville. Description This is a nine mile stretch on relatively quiet waters. We’re usually on the water about 3.5 – 4 hours (including lunch stop in a long abandoned orange grove that still yields lots of  fruit).   The Withlacoochee River has been designated one of the State’s “Outstanding Waterways” and this section is about as outstanding as it gets. The only houses we see for the entire trip are those at the small fish camp at our launch site. I call this the “Trails End” section of the Withlacoochee River, in honor of the Trails End Camp where we launch. Our trip ends about nine miles downstream at Marsh Bend Park on Outlet River (a mile long stream connecting Lake Panasofkee to Withlacoochee River).   For much of it’s hundred mile length, the Withlacoochee carries itself with a subtle beauty that is unlike any other Florida river. The section we’ll be exploring on this trip is one of the finest. Sandwiched between two large wetlands, Wahoo Swamp to the south and the Tsala Apopka wetlands to the north, time and civilization have never stood a chance here.   In addition to being relatively devoid of human enterprise or habitation, this part of the Withlacoochee has a great diversity in appearance, ranging...

Withlacoochee River (South) #2

  Withlacoochee River (S) #2 : The Limpkin Patch   Group size: 1 – 24 people Trip length: 3.5 – 4 hours Skill level: Intermediate – advanced Cost: This one is $50 per person ($39 for “wanna go” members). With your own boat it’s $40 per person ($29 for members). The launch site is about 1.5 hour drive south from Gainesville.   Description   On this easy, out-and-back paddle, we usually cover about 4 – 5 miles of relatively quiet waters. We’re usually on the water about 3 – 3.5. The Withlacoochee River has been designated one of the State’s “Outstanding Waterways” and this section is about as outstanding as it gets. The only houses we see for the entire trip are a few near our launch site.   For much of it’s hundred mile length, the Withlacoochee carries itself with a subtle beauty that is unlike any other Florida river. The section we’ll be exploring on this trip is near the Tsala Apopka wetlands, historically a favorite refuge for Native Americans and currently a refuge for a vast array of wildlife.   In addition to being relatively devoid of human enterprise or habitation, this part of the Withlacoochee has a great diversity in appearance, ranging from relatively narrow channels to broad expanses nearly a half mile wide. The low swamp forests lining the bank are dominated by cypress with a nice mix of gum, ash and red maple.   The river itself alternates between open expanses of water to large areas of marsh. Some of these marshes are in the form of floating mats of water hyacinth, pickerelweed, bur marigold and climbing hemp vine,...

Prairie Creek

Prairie Creek Kayak and Canoe Tour  Group size: 1 – 24 people Trip time: 2.5 – 3 hours Skill level: Intermediate – Expert Cost: $50 per person ($39 for “wanna go” members). If you bring your own boat it’s $40 per person. ($29 for “wanna go” members)   Description  Located about 20 minutes east of Gainesville, Prairie Creek connects two of North Central Florida’s most popular havens for wildlife watching, Newnans Lake and Paynes Prairie. So, it’s no surprise that a paddle down this winding, dark-water, creek offers a variety of plants and animals. We usually see a number of water birds, and if you watch closely, you’ll probably spot a few turtles sunning on logs and branches debris on the riverbank. We begin this journey on Newnans Lake. The dense marsh thickets that sprouted during droughts a few years ago are still thriving, as is the abundant wildlife that loves such places. Around the edges of these marshes, American lotus plants are at the tail end of their bloom. While many are still displaying their showy yellow flowers, most are sporting the odd looking seed heads that are commonly seen in flower arrangements.   As your boat glides into the mouth of Prairie Creek, you’ll realize you’ve discovered one of Gainesville’s least-known natural treasures. For most of it’s run, Prairie Creek courses through a mature forest of mixed hardwoods and cypress which form a dense, closed canopy overhead. Most years, seasonal rains cause the creek to brim and spill over the low, sandy banks into the forest. This keeps the understory relatively free of vegetation and allows good viewing into the forest. As our journey carries us closer to...