Great Calusa Blueway Royal Spring along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble Suwannee River Paddling Festival Manatees in Blue Spring run  off the St. Johns River Florida Keys Challenge Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Ocklawaha Odyssey Ocklawaha Odyssey Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee The Great Calusa Blueway Suwannee River State Park Reflection of limestone banks along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail A limpkin along the Wekiva River

Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure. Paddle Florida, ,

, Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

, Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

Paddle Florida:
Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

Paddle Florida, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation organized to support canoeing and kayaking in Florida. Supported, multi-day paddling/camping adventures in each of Florida's five water management districts showcase the state's natural beauty and rich cultural heritage while promoting water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection. Paddle Florida also seeks to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism.

Our 2017-18 season of paddling adventures:

Paddle Florida scouts trips in advance to ensure waterway conditions and shoreline campsites are safe, comfortable, and showcase nature's best view. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminate the need to weigh down boats with food and camping equipment. Florida-based entertainment and educational programming is provided each evening by regional artists, musicians, authors, and naturalists. Partnerships with local outfitters provide paddlers with canoes, kayaks, and other paddling gear to rent as needed. With this level of support, paddlers of all ages and skill levels can explore and enjoy the REAL Florida!

Take a peek at a couple of our most popular paddling adventures on North Florida's famous Suwannee River and in the Florida Keys....

Paddle Florida is proud to be Silver Level certified by the Florida Society for
Ethical Ecotourism.  Florida SEE encourages awareness and stewardship of Florida's natural and cultural heritage by endorsing compliance with federal, state, and local laws, providing environmental education, and promoting professionalism and integrity. 

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Archived Happy Paddler newsletters:

August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016

Paddle Florida, Inc.
P.O. Box 5953
1710 SW 35th Place, Unit C
Gainesville, FL 32608

Board of Directors:
Nickie Kortus, President
Mary Jane Angelo, Vice President
Robert Hutchinson, Secretary
Debra Akin, Treasurer
Lars Andersen, Board Member

Tax Return & 990 Documents:
990 2015 Tax Return

Refund Policy:
Due to the financial outlay and costs incurred by Paddle Florida during event planning, any force majeure, which includes but is not limited to water levels, inclement weather and any other Acts of God not mentioned herein, shall not result in the refund of any fees paid to Paddle Florida. Absolutely no fees will be refunded after 15 days before the event begins. Any fees refunded by Paddle Florida will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Lynn Whittaker ~ August 2017

(07/30/2017) ​Where are you from?  Your profession?   I am from Utah and have lived there most my life.  I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and retired from the mental health field in 2012.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I must admit I am not a very experienced paddler, having spent most of my outdoor energy in the deserts of Utah and the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.  But my camping friend Paul Westberry contacted me in late summer of 2008 and said I should join him for a paddle on the Suwanee River in November.  November in Utah is generally pretty cold with inversions that cause bad air, so I figured I would head out to sunny Florida and enjoy a leisurely paddle down the exotic river of Stephan Foster fame.  The first night at Stephan Foster State Park the temperature went down to freezing.  Surprise to me.  All was well the next morning when we headed out on the misty, chilly, mysterious river.  It was great and I was hooked.     Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I tend to enjoy the rivers more than the ocean--I suppose due to the mysteries of seeing what’s around the next bend.  But I have loved every minute of all my travels with Paddle Florida (except maybe that time on the Keys trip with forty mph headwind, driving rain, paddling against an outgoing tide with only a mile to go to camp that took an hour).  I suppose I enjoy the Suwanee trips the best of all.  I have done a couple with different beginnings and enjoy seeing new territory.  It is all a wonderful adventure for a boy from Utah. I just love the misty morning take-offs with the moody black water, birds, wildlife, and Spanish moss dangling from trees.  Very different from the high deserts out west.    What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? All the trips I have been on have been exciting adventures, but the most startling perhaps was hearing an eerie noise up ahead on the Peace River.  On paddling 'round the bend, I saw a big old dog with a feral hog by the ear in the river.  Squealing and huffing and struggling and water flying and WOW--that's just something you don't see every day!  That dog was locked on and was not about to let go.  The hog was not going to submit.  So it went on and on until I was downriver and out of sight.  We did see the cowboy on the bank later on and let him know that his dog was upstream and perhaps had bitten off more than he could chew.   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  Paul Westberry has roped me into coming down to Florida almost every year for a paddle trip for many years now.  It is hard tearing myself away from snow shoveling and freezing temps in Utah, but because Paul is a generous and tolerant man, he has encouraged (and provided equipment) for me to paddle the Peace River at least three times, Suwannee at least twice, and the Keys Challenge twice. The latest trip was the Great Calusa Blueway last February.  I am a lucky man.    Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  I cannot even begin to pick out highlights from my Paddle Florida trips.   When I get there and all I have to do is eat, load my grip on the truck, paddle down that lazy river, pull my kayak out on the bank at the end of the day after a lovely (usually warm and scenic) day, sit in my camp chair to rest up and then eat again, well it is just too difficult to pick highlights.  It's all highlights.  And the programs in the evening--they are great.  Quality entertainment and/or interesting science and local knowledge every night, hanging out with smart people--where else can you get all this in one go?  Cruise ship I suppose, but they don't travel on the Suwannee or let you paddle at your own speed, and they may not have the concentration of smart people.  Did I mention the food?  Great food from local folks.  I have never gone to bed hungry.   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  If I had never gone on a trip with Paddle Florida and was considering it, and didn't know Paul Westberry, I would call Jill and talk with her or any of the folks associated with Paddle Florida.  They will help you out with what equipment you need and stuff to bring and such.  They'll make sure you have a great trip. This is a great organization.  

Mary Jane Angelo ~ July 2017

(06/23/2017) Where are you from? Your profession?  For the past 22 years, I have lived on Lake Elizabeth, a beautiful natural lake near Melrose, Florida.  I am an Environmental Law Professor and Director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the University of Florida.  My entire career has been devoted to environmental protection.  I began my career as a biologist, earning a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University and an M.S. in Entomology from the University of Florida. After a stint working for the USDA, I went to law school to focus on environmental law and policy. I then spent seven years working as an environmental lawyer for the US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington DC and nine years as a senior attorney for the St. Johns River Water Management District before joining the full-time faculty of the University of Florida.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?   Since early childhood, I have had a strong interest in and connection to the natural environment. My earliest paddling experiences were in the pine barrens of my home state of New Jersey. Almost immediately after moving to Florida in the early 1980s, I began exploring the plethora of rivers and springs of North Central Florida by canoe. When I move to Washington DC, I learned to whitewater canoe and spent time paddling in the waters of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. After moving back to Florida, I realized that my passion for environmental protection had led me to spend most of my time working on environmental protection and less time out enjoying the natural environment that I sought to protect. I made a commitment to myself to kayak at least once a week every week that I was not traveling. Although I am not always able to fulfill my once a week goal, I do paddle on a regular on a variety of water bodies within a few hours drive of Gainesville.   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I have paddled in many parts of the United States, from Alaska to Florida, as well as in many other countries including Zambia, Brazil, Iceland, Costa Rica and Canada.  There are so many places that I enjoy paddling that it is hard to pick a favorite, however, one of my favorites close to home is Juniper Run. I love the wild lush feel of it.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?   Many interesting things have happened to me while kayaking, but two in particular stand out. The first was paddling on the Zambezi River in Zambia when a large group of elephants, including several small babies, decided to block my way by crossing the river in a line, each one's trunk attached to the tail of the one in front of it. Another memorable experience closer to home was on a bioluminescence paddle on Merritt Island, where my boat scared a group of sleeping manatees. The startled manatees looked like giant glowing green monsters and they flooded my boat with their bioluminescent splash.                                                 How did you hear about Paddle Florida and what’s your current role with the organization?  I became aware of Paddle Florida several years ago when some friends told me about their experiences on a Suwanee River trip. Unfortunately, although I did some scouting for the Ocklawaha trip, I have not yet had the opportunity to join a Paddle Florida trip as my teaching schedule at the University of Florida conflicts with most of them.  I am looking forward to an upcoming sabbatical and hope to join at least one or two Paddle Florida trips during that time. I recently joined the board of Paddle Florida and hope to be much more involved with the organization in the future.    

Jill Lingard ~ June 2017

(05/30/2017) Where are you from?  Your profession?  After three wonderful decades in Gainesville, my husband’s new job has relocated us to Riverview in the Tampa Bay area.  While in Gainesville, I enjoyed a 25-year career in student services at the University of Florida.  In 2012, I left UF to volunteer fulltime for water-related non-profits. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I did a bit of canoeing as a kid on youth group trips in Florida—I remember a Peace River weekend during my middle school years.  In the 90’s, we rented kayaks to explore the beautiful spring-fed rivers around Gainesville—Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee to the north, and Silver, Rainbow, and Ocklawaha to the south.  We eventually bought our own kayaks and started adding multi-day expeditions to our day trips.  Having done some long hiking trips, I was delighted to see how much easier it is to fit camping gear, food, and water into a kayak vs. a backpack.  Since those early days, our fleet has grown to four kayaks and, recently, two paddleboards.  We’re now starting to get to know some of the west coast waterways around our new home. Where is your favorite place to paddle? For pure relaxation and joy, breathtaking color, and wildlife above and below the water’s surface, I love Florida’s spring-fed streams.  Favorites include Juniper, Rock Springs, Weeki Wachee, Santa Fe, Silver, and Ichetucknee (outside of the summer tubing season).  I’m pleased to see Paddle Florida featuring so many springs on their upcoming 2017-18 trip schedule. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  Paddling with friends near Cabbage Key off Florida’s southwest coast a few years ago, a cownose ray leaped out of the water inches from my kayak, bounced off my deck on the way down, before splashing back into the water. It took me by such surprise, I almost flipped over from the shock of it.  A truly thrilling experience! How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? Nearly all of them.  I was one of the 163 paddlers who joined Paddle Florida’s inaugural trip on the Suwannee River in 2008.  We enjoyed that experience so much that we latched on to each new trip as they were offered.  Describe your role with Paddle Florida.  In 2011, I joined the Board of Directors as Vice President.  For the next four years, I volunteered on nearly every trip and worked behind the scenes on grant writing and marketing projects.  That role was formalized in 2016 with my new position as Communications Coordinator, and I have stepped back a bit from trips as Paddle Florida’s pool of wonderful and talented trip volunteers has grown. Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? One feature that I think makes the Paddle Florida experience unique and meaningful is the evening program component involving speakers and musicians.  I’m picturing dulcimer god Bing Futch slaying the theme from The Last of the Mohicans with the warm, moonlit waters off the Florida Keys as a back drop.  I’m remembering the springs along the Suwannee I jumped into to cool off in during the day, and then hearing in the evening from cave diver Annette Long how those clear blue pools connect to my drinking water.  Many of us can explore Florida’s waterways on our own, but these enriching moments of connection each evening make the Paddle Florida experience truly memorable.  What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  If you enjoy paddling and camping, why not combine the two?  By providing meals, on-water support, and hauling your camping gear, Paddle Florida takes much of the logistical work out of a multi-day trip…you’re left to just paddle and enjoy yourself.  I love seeing newbies come and make new friends, gain confidence on the water, and morph into skilled paddling veterans over the course of a few trips.  Paddle Florida provides a supportive environment in which to test and stretch your skills along some of the most gorgeous waterways the state has to offer.  Don’t wait to sign up for a trip—it may fill up!   

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