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Suwannee River Spring Hop #2

   SUWANNEE SPRING HOP #2:  Hwy 51 – Mearson Spring      Group size: 1 – 24 paddlers Trip time: 3 – 4 hours Skill level: Great for beginners and experts alike   The meeting place for this trip is on the Suwannee, about 1.5 hours NW of Gainesville.     Description   There are few places, in Florida or elsewhere, where you can find as many beautiful and unique springs as are found along the middle Suwannee River. On this trip, we’ll visit Telford, Bathtub, Convict, Running, Royal and Mearson springs.   This is a relatively wide section of the Suwannee, averaging 300 – 400 feet across, that flows lazily in long, sweeping curves. Stained dark brown with tannins, much of it having come from the swampy headwaters of the Okefenokee swamp, contrast sharply with sandy white beaches and sloping bluffs. Perched above the river bank and stretching unseen for miles in all directions, mixed forests of pine and oak dominate the setting. It’s a higher, drier terrain than we experience on our “swampier” rivers, with nice, expansive vistas – plenty of Kodak moments.   The width of this section can make it sunny and hot or breezy at times. It’s a fairly long stretch too (about 11 miles) and usually takes us about 4.5 – 5 hours, including swim and lunch stops at the springs.     Wildlife   At this time of year, Middle Suwannee is the stomping grounds (or rather, splashing grounds) of the amazing Gulf sturgeon. Unlike some wildlife encounters, spotting sturgeons takes no skill at all. Just keep your eye trained to the open water...