Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kayaking the Santa Fe River from Oleno State Park

Location: High Springs, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.915060, –82.579596
Date: 3/27/2011
I’m going back and collecting some of the trips I had been adding to Everytrail & Wikiloc and including them in this blog.
Julie and I kayaked the Santa Fe river starting at the O’leno state park (http://www.floridastateparks.org/oleno/) . The river level was at 36.93 at the I-75 bridge. The reason I mention this is because the water level was pretty low and you may want to think twice about making this trip if the level is any lower than this. You can check the water level at http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/realtimeriverlevels/realtimeriverlevels.aspx
We had to get out twice pulling our kayaks over some shallow areas, but this was relatively easy and well worth the effort. Also, there were several areas where trees had fallen crossing the river, but we had no problems making our way around these.
The water level was more of a problem near our put in location at O’leno State park. At one point we came upon a bunch of deer crossing the river. The water level was so low that they had no problem getting from one bank to the other.
Other than the low water, this was an awesome trip. There are absolutely no homes or other signs of civilization on the river. It’s totally pristine from the state park all the way up to I-75. We only saw one other boat and this was a john boat using an electric trolling motor. Other than that, we were the only ones on the water and this was on a weekend day with perfect weather.
We paddled upstream for about 3.2 miles, just about a ½ mile past the I-75 bridge. The current was very easy and we had no problem paddling against it for the first half of the trip. As you approach the bridge, the river widens and oddly also deepens. Unfortunately, you also get a lot of road noise from the highway, but this does not last very long.
One other interesting part of the trip was at about 1.1 mile into the trip. There was a short spur off to the left of the river. We followed it and there was a spot where the water was flowing down into a sink, causing a whirlpool. If you paddled on top of it, it would spin your boat in circles. Kind of weird!
Both Julie and I agree that this was a great paddle and would highly recommend it to others, just as long as the water level was at an ok level.
The dock and put in location at O’leno State Park. The water is very dark from the tannin.
Julie standing in one of the shallow areas close to the state park. This is the reason to check the water level before taking this trip.
There were a few logs crossing the river, but nothing too bad and we had no problem getting by them
This was a very peaceful river to paddle as we just about had the river to ourselves and there was no homes or building along the entire route.
This is the spot after crossing under I-75 were the river widens and the current is very easy.
Some very nice old cypress trees line the edge of the Sante Fe river.
This is the spot where we turned around and started heading back down river.
Back at Oleno State park where we put in. This is the foot bridge over the river and leads to one of the hiking trails in the park. You can’t go any further down river from this point as the river eventually goes underground, only to re-emerge at the River Rise State Park, We’ve also paddled that section of the Santa Few River which can be seen at this link

Kayaking the Santa Fe River at EveryTrail