Do you like to connect with nature on your travels? Nothing beats kayaking down the Ichetucknee River on the crystal clear waters of north-central Florida. The six-mile-journey takes paddlers through a cypress forest chock full of wildlife, so be on the lookout for raccoons, wild turkey, blue heron, wood ducks and white-tail deer. And, the hardest part of the experience? Getting in the open kayak without falling in the water. So, on your next visit to the Sunshine State, take time away from sunning on the beach for kayaking down the Ichetucknee River.
I started my travel adventure at the North gate of Ichetucknee Springs State Park on a fall morning that this boomer traveler considered too cool for swimming but perfect for kayaking. The folks from Adventure Outpost met me in the parking lot with my ride (kayak), then picked it up later before the Ichetucknee flowed into the Santa Fe River.
Joining a ranger-led paddling tour, I floated along as Ranger Sam Cole, pointed out turtles, otters and a beaver dam. Rounding a bend in the river, we came to an open area where a woodstork perched on a tall tree snag. The birder’s paradise offered sightings of great blue heron, kingfisher, lumpkin, egret and a pileated woodpecker. The few kayakers who were on the river passed quietly by.
A series of clear springs feed into the Ichetucknee, providing a constant flow that makes paddling effortless.With water temperatures at a consistent 73 degrees, the river offers a comfortable, peaceful escape with nature from October to April. But, in the summer season, tubers take over making it a totally different experience that would be fun with grandchildren.
Be sure to include a dinner or lunch at Great Outdoors Restaurant located in the restored Opera House.
This travel experiences was provided by the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau but the opinions are my own.