Monday, February 18, 2013
Ichetucknee River Kayak Trip
Location: Five miles North West of Fort White, Fl
GPS Coordinates: 29.954748, -82.784587
With Monday being a holiday (Presidents day), Julie had the day off and a three day weekend. We had originally hoped to use the long weekend to get some camping in somewhere, but we didn’t start looking in time and all the Florida State Parks campgrounds were full. Someday we’ll learn to plan further ahead when trying to make camping reservations in the winter. It may have been a good things as we had a “cold” spell with the lows in the low thirties on Saturday night and high twenties on Sunday night. Definitely a little chilly for a couple of Floridians.
Since I had decided to take the day off also (not a holiday for me) we really wanted to get outside and do something. We’ve looked at kayaking the Ichetucknee River a few times in the past, but our timing was never good as this is primarily a tubing river in the warmer months, but in the winter tubing is closed down which makes for a good time to try this river. We drove the 45 minutes from Gainesville, through the booming town of Fort White and onto the south entrance to the Ichetucknee Springs State park.
We only had one vehicle, so we had decided to go ahead and paddle up river to the spring head (North Entrance of the park) and then float/paddle back down to where we had originally put in. I was thinking that we could put in at the South entrance, but that was wrong. We actually had to travel a half mile west past the entrance to the “Last take out” location. Here there is a parking lot with a short dirt road down to the river. You can unload your kayaks and gear here and carry them the last 50 yards to the river. This is a great place to launch the kayaks as they have a set of docks that makes it very easy to enter and exit your kayak or canoe.
We hadn’t been kayaking much lately, so going against the current gave us a good workout. We only saw one other guy in a canoe attempting the paddle up, flow back way of doing this trip. The flow of the river was about 1.4 – 2.4 mph, so although we found it challenging, it definitely was doable and we made it to the head of the river without too much effort. We did see about 4-5 other canoes making the trip down, so it was a very quiet day on the river, From the “last take out point” to the spring at the head of the river is 3.08 miles making it about a 6+ mile round trip.
While on the river we saw some wild turkey, a few deer, and one playful otter that didn’t seem at all afraid of us. I never got my camera out to take a picture as I figured that he would just bolt as soon as I did. But he just kept rolling in the grass and mud and we passed. Of course he was nowhere to be seen when we floated back down and I had my camera ready. That’s always the way! There were also a ton of birds along the entire trip, but especially near the northern section in a quarter mile section where the river widened and there was lots of sunlight.
The entire run of the Ichetucknee river is clear spring water which makes for some very nice paddling. There are many springs along the length of the river, unfortunately several of the springs are fenced off or posted as off limits. I’m guessing this is due to the thousands of tubers that are on the river during the summer. It’s too bad that you can’t paddle over many of these springs.
The southern entrance to the park. You go a half mile past this sign to put in your kayak or canoe.
The area to launch at the “last take out” location
Boardwalk on a trail at the northern entrance of the Ichetucknee State Park
The head spring of the Ichetucknee River
Dock area at the head spring
Julie ducking under a fallen tree. This was the only tree that you had to deal with while kayaking
Some areas along the river have some interesting limestone outcroppings
Julie looking down into one of the springs that is accessible while paddling this river
Many cypress knees on one of the spring runs
Required turtle picture for any trip taken on a Florida river
Here is the link to the Picasa album with all the pictures from the trip.
Here is the GPS track of our trip on the Ichetucknee River
Ichetucknee River Kayak Trip at EveryTrail