Guided Canoe and Kayak Explorations
Every week, Adventure Outpost leads 2 – 3 tours on waterways across North Florida. These trips offer a fun, hands-on opportunity to learn about the history, geology, ecology, plants, animals and local lore of the river we’re exploring (a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors). We like our tours to feel very relaxed and natural, so we don’t insist that the group paddle together in a tight little tour group. Those who like to hear more about the river can stay closer to the guide (he will welcome your interest! ;o). But if you are more inclined to go at your own pace and away from the group, that’s no problem. Just be sure to let the guide know so he can inform you about any important river notes such as tricky forks where you might get lost. To see all of our guided kayak and canoe tours CLICK on Guided Tours or search through our Find a Trip categories listed in the menu to the right.
Canaveral National Seashore
Hontoon Island/Blue Springs
Rock Springs Run
St. Augustine, “The Wild Side”
Diverse Habitats and Waterway types
As you might expect, our list of 60+ waterways covers a wide range of water types, environments, paddling conditions. What’s your pleasure? If you prefer narrow, shaded streams that get you up close and personal with the river banks and all the wonders of nature that live there (plants and creatures, including a wonderful assortment of crawlies), you should steer a course for Prairie Creek, Bear Creek, Deep Creek , Ichetucknee , Juniper Run, Chassahowitzka (about half the trip), Weeki Wachee and Gum Slough (NOTE – at 6 – 7 hours, this is one of our longer excursions). Or maybe you enjoy wide open spaces with expansive views. If so, I recommend you look at Cedar Key, Wild Side of St. Augustine, Homosassa, Canaveral National Seashore, Chassahowitzka, Hontoon Island/Blue Springs, Suncoast Keys (Ozello), Bennett’s Creek, Newnans Lake, Shired Island, Cumberland Island, Bartram’s Battle Lagoon, Black Creek, Cross Creek (actually Lochloosa and Orange Lakes, which comprise about 1/2 this trip) are included. Some excellent mid-range trips, with banks ranging between 100 – 200 feet, would be Santa Fe, Suwannee (middle sections), Ocklawaha, Rainbow River, Ichetucknee (except narrow first ten minutes), Withlacoochee (north), Withlacoochee (south), Deep Creek (lower half), Steinhachee and Waccasassa/Wekiva Rivers. If you’d rather be a land-lubber, a couple of great opportunities are hikes on Paynes Prairie and San Felasco Hammock.
While all of our tours include a brief overview of some of the rivers history, geology and ecology, many have a specific theme or topic that we give specially attention to. If you have a specific interest, keep an eye out for one of these theme tours. In winter months, our Manatee Tours are by far our most popular excursions. The tour with the best chance of spotting manatees is Crystal River. However, the many houses, people and other boaters on this waterway make this the most “civilized” tour on our entire Launch Menu. Lots of birds and fish and manatees, but also lots of other people. If you’d prefer to take your chances with a lesser chance of seeing manatees (probably about 90%) but in a much more scenic, wild setting, you should consider Chassahowitzka, Weeki Wachee, Homosassa or Hontoon Island/Blue Spring. When water levels are high, Ichetucknee is a great place to see them. Birds are our regular companions on most of our tips, but a few places are especially popular for birders eager to keep their binoculars hoisted. Cedar Keys, Withlacoochee (south): The Limpkin Patch, Cross Creek, Ichetucknee and Paynes Prairie (a leisurely, 3 mile hike) are some stand-outs. If you enjoy Bears as much as we do, you’ll likely be disappointed with any paddle trip in Florida. But we do have some, and we occasionally see them on our tours. The rivers where we see them most are Rock Springs Run, Chassahowitzka and Juniper Creek. Other wildlife species are more commonly seen on some rivers than others. River otters, for instance, are a highlight of our Rainbow River tours, where we see them on about 90% of our tours. On Silver River, we usually spot monkeys (actually, Rhesus macaques. These non-natives have lived along this and Ocklawaha River since the 193o’s. (see Silver River description for the story). Dolphins often treat us to their company; sometimes hanging with us for several minutes and other times doing a quick “fly-by” on tours in Cedar Keys, Suncoast Keys, Homosassa and Chassahowitzka. And if you love turtles (who doesn’t love turtles!) you should treat yourself to a trip down Ichetucknee or Santa Fe River. Researchers tell us only one other place in the world–a river in China!–has a greater density of turtles per river mile than Santa Fe. We typically see nearly 100 per hour of paddling. Of course, no mention of Florida wildlife would be complete without mentioning alligators. Many people come here just to see them. If you want to see them, the best place in our area to alligators is actually on a hike on Paynes Prairie. Rivers where we see them are Ocklawaha, Withlacoochee South. Some of our waterways have very few. Suwannee, Santa Fe, Ichetucknee, Rainbow and Wild Side of St. Augustine have the fewest gators of any tours on our list. (Note: While American alligators are relatively wary of humans and will slip away before you get close, be sure to keep your distance. [Do I really have to say that?!]) If you’re interested in a History Tour, watch the calendar for Suwannee History Tour, Olustee Creek/Upper Santa Fe, Wild Side of St. Augustine, and the Paynes Prairie History Hike (yes we do occasional hikes too). How about Geology? On rivers like Suwannee (sections above Suwannee River State Park), Santa Fe, Ichetucknee, Steinhatchee and Withlacoochee (north) Florida’s limestone foundation is beautifully exposed with bluffs and rock formations beautifully sculpted by water and chemical (from natural tannins) erosion. And, yes, Springs!! North Florida is famous for its springs. Especially in the “Springs Heartland” area of the Suwannee, Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. At last count, Florida has over 1,000 clear, freshwater spring. While most are admittedly small vents (Patsy calls them “squirts”) that you might paddle past without ever knowing it, many are large, blue, (and absolutely breathtaking!) liquid gems. The premier springs experience is to paddle a spring run where huge volume of spring water flowing from the vents makes for a crystal clear, spring stream the entire way. Silver River, Ichetucknee, Rainbow River and Gum Slough are some stand-outs. Wakulla River is a beauty that falls into this category, though we don’t see the actual spring on the paddle tour. To see the head spring you have to go to Wakulla River State Park. Other tours are predominantly dark-water streams (the main river type in Florida) that pass some springs along the way. Examples are Hontoon Island/Blue Spring and Gum Slough. On rivers where we pass a number of springs, we often lead Spring-Hopping tours (a North Florida specialty). Suwannee, Santa Fe, Wacissa and Withlacoochee (north) are the best rivers for this type trip. For the hard-core adventurers who like it rough, we offer our “X-stream explorations,” of the wildest, most inhospitable terrain in North Florida. If you’re one of those people who enjoy “the thrill of going where no one in their right mind has gone before.” Watch our calendar for such gnarly gems as River Styx. We occasionally bring in Guest Guides, usually specialists from a specific field, such as birding, plant identification, history etc., as a guest guide. Keep an eye out for these special trips. For descriptions of our trips and a calendar of tour dates, * See an article about us and our tours in the February, 2009 edition of National Geographic Adventure Magazine.
Most of our guided tours are led by Lars Andersen In the summer of 2018, Lars celebrated his 21st year as a full-time river guide for Adventure Outpost, the business he owns with his wife, Patsy. He is a Florida Master Naturalist, historian and author (Paynes Prairie: Pineapple Press, Sarasota FL. 2001, ’03, & ‘09; – and – North Florida Adventure: A Journey Through History, (Grinnin’ Lizard Productions, Dallas, Tx. 1988). His most recent projects were the Paddlers Guide to the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, (2009) and a Paddlers Guide to the Gilchrist Blueway. He has won several awards for his work teaching natural history and advocating for springs and river health, including the “Award of Excellence” (2014) by the Florida Master Naturalist Program, the “Unsung Hero” award (2015) by the Florida Defenders of the Environment, and “Spring Advocate of the Year for 2017” by the Florida Springs Institute. Since January 2016 Lars has been a lead instructor for U.F.’s Florida Master Naturalist Program while continuing to lead 2 – 3 tours per week for Adventure Outpost.
We usually do 2 – 3 guided explorations per week. To see what’s being planned, visit our Calendar or give us a call at (386) 454-0611. Most of our trips are the result of customers requests, so if you have a trip you’d like to do, give us a call and we’ll set it up.
If you live in the area and are interested in hearing about scheduled trips that still have space available, you can get on our “wanna go” e-mail list. There’s no charge or obligation. You can email us at [email protected] saying you’d like to be on the list and we’ll include your name. You will then receive 1 – 2 e-mails per week telling you what trips are coming up.