Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Kayaking the Santa Fe River to River Rise State Park


Location: High Springs, Fl

GPS Coordinates: 29.852598, -82.612237

Date: 6/9/2013


We had not been out kayaking for a few months. Partly because our weekends have been very busy and also because our kayaks are stored on our garage wall and we were acting as a storage company for our kids stuff which prevented us getting easy access to the kayaks. Fortunately, both kids recently moved into new places and took most of their belongings. So, finally we can now get the boats down!!

When we want to do a quick paddle and without too much hassle, we often do the Santa Fe river just north of High Spring, Fl. We put in at the boat ramp just before the highway 41 bridge and paddle upstream to the Santa Fe River rise.

The Santa Fe river originates at Lake Santa Fe east of Gainesville. Once leaving the lake on the north side, the river meanders for about 30 miles until it reaches O’leno State Park . Once in the park the river goes down into a sink and travels for about three miles underground and then reappears at the River Rise State Preserve

So, our paddle today was the 2.6 miles from the Highway 41 boat ramp to the location where the river rises again. Paddling upstream against the current is a good workout, but not too difficult. We’ve had some good rains lately and the current was between 1.6 and 2 mph. So, a very manageable current to paddle against. Plus the float back down is always welcome after making our way to the river rise.

This is the boat ramp where we put in. If you head down river from here, there’s no easy way to paddle back as the current is very strong downstream from here. So, we always head upstream.



Julie and I have done this trip probably 5 – 6 other times and we’ve never seen an alligator on this section of the river. Today we saw many gators with a few swimming across the river in front of us. I guess with it being spring and the increased rainfall has them a little more active. Here’s one on the bank next to a cypress tree.




One thing we like about this paddle is how quiet this section of the Santa Fe river is as compared to other sections of this river. In the first half miles you pass about three or four houses and then you enter the River Rise Preserve. This is a totally undeveloped area with very little boat traffic. We usually don’t see any other boaters on the river, although today we did see a few kayakers, one couple in a canoe and a father and son fishing from a john boat.



Here’s some close up of some cypress knees.


Here is the river rise where the Santa Fe reappears after traveling three miles under ground.


Julie relaxing on the float back down stream.


Now for the required turtle picture. You always see many turtles when kayaking rivers in Florida.


As I mentioned previously, we saw many gators on this river today. Here’s one who may think he’s a turtle. He had the spot of honor at the high point of this fallen tree.



One the way home we stopped at the Great Outdoor restaurant in High Springs for a few snacks and a couple of beers.  We sat out on the patio and enjoyed the outdoors.

2013-06-09 16.02.38 (2)

And finally, here is the GPS track of the trip we took today.

Santa Fe River to River Rise State Park at EveryTrail


  1. Great shot of the turtles and gator sharing a log:)

  2. The Santa Fe is one of our favorite paddles. We usually put in at Rum Island park and go towards Gennie springs. I love paddling over the beautiful blue springs.

  3. Cute pic of the bitty gator! We're heading down to Florida November 2013 for the first time, I'll keep an eye on your adventures there!