Great Calusa Blueway Royal Spring along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble Florida Keys Challenge Ochlockonee River Suwannee River Paddling Festival Ocklockonee Bay Manatees off the St. Johns River Estero River on the Great Calusa Blueway Florida Keys Challenge Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Florida Keys Challenge Calusa trip leaders conferring on the route

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 2016-17 Paddling Season:
October 17-24, 2016: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
December 2-6, 2016: Ocklawaha Odyssey
January 9-15, 2017: Florida Keys Challenge
February 11-17, 2017: The Great Calusa Blueway
March 11-17, 2017: Dam to the Bay on the Ochlockonee
April 7-9, 2017: Suwannee River Paddling Festival

Stay tuned! Our 2017-18 season will be announced on May 1.

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:

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

Amy Riley ~ April 2017

(03/28/2017) Where are you from? Your profession?  I live in Fern Park, Florida and have been a Florida resident for the past 23 years. I am originally from Puerto Rico. I’m a mental health counselor, with a specialty in infant mental health. I work as an independent contractor for Kinder Konsulting, an agency that focuses on young children.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I started paddling shortly after I arrived to Florida, but only day trips for the first few years. Then I began working at a substance abuse residential program for teenagers, which included experiential therapy as part of its curriculum. I took the kids to do different outdoor activities and events and helped them process their experiences. One of the trips involved a five-day kayak journey on the (northern) Withlacoochee River down to Suwannee River State Park.  After that trip, I was hooked on kayaking.   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  It is hard to identify my favorite place to paddle. I have paddled in numerous states and Puerto Rico. All the paddles have their charms. I enjoy the wild ways of the Econlockhatchee River, and the clear waters of Juniper Springs are a marvel.  My best paddles have definitely been here in Florida.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  I had a very interesting event occur while on the (southern) Withlacoochee River. I took a hike after paddling, became lost in the woods, and ran into a hunter who proceeded to hunt and kill a bobcat while leading me back to camp. On another paddling trip I fell off a bicycle I had rented, broke my wrist, and had to be taken off Cayo Costa by boat to a hospital. Each of those occurrences could have been traumatic, but my fellow paddlers were always there to support me. They have been a blessing!   How did you hear about Paddle Florida and which trips have you gone on?  I heard about Paddle Florida through the Internet. My husband and I were looking for a long kayak trip and just happened to stumble upon the website.  I have been on the Wekiva/St. Johns, two separate Suwannee trips, the Withlacoochee, the Bartram history paddle on the St. Johns, the Keys, the Calusa Blueway twice, and the recent Ochlockonee River trip.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?   On my second Suwannee trip, there was one particular day when I was not feeling particularly well physically or emotionally. I had not slept well and had a bad stomach ache. That morning I paddled off a little ahead of the lead. The water level was unusually low and it was very foggy. Everything was quiet, tranquil. In front of me I could just barely make out the forms of deer right in the middle of the river. It brought such peace to my heart. I will never forget that morning. Paddling can bring such spiritual and healing strength. Experiences like that help me put into perspective what is really important in life. After that trip I came home with a determination to keep that peace of mind consistent in my life.    What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?   For people giving Paddle Florida a try, I say make the most of it. The trips have been amazing and the staff more than helpful. The people who come are seeking the same kind of experiences you are, and the trips provide an opportunity to connect to others of like mind. I refer to them as my "paddle family."  Who knows, maybe you’ll have your own spiritual awakening.

Jim & Connie Winter-Troutwine ~ March 2017

(02/24/2017) Where are you from? Your profession(s)?  We met in the flat lands of north central Indiana in 1975. We paddled many of the rivers and inland lakes only to realize Indiana was too flat, hot, and uninspiring. So we headed to Michigan, first and foremost to be nearer to Lake Michigan (locally known as the “big lake”), more wilderness, and the forests. We arrived in Grand Rapids during the blizzard of ’79 and were elated to find real Michigan snow instead of Indiana’s slush. In 1979 Jim established his architectural practice and Connie was hired as a speech-language pathologist in the local public schools. Connie retired in 2015 and Jim maintains a small studio in our home. We continue to reside in Grand Rapids on the same city block as our two granddaughters. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  Connie grew up in a canoe in Ontario and Manitoba where she spent her summers paddling the waters of Lake of the Woods, Manitou Island, and the inland waterway of Georgian Bay. Shortly after they married, she helped Jim unlearn his fear of the water and learn how to paddle a canoe. Several canoe trips in the Algonquin Provincial Park sealed their fate as life long paddlers. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Our favorite place to paddle is the Georgian Bay in Ontario. We have paddled the 30 Thousand Islands chain several times and lead a group of friends out to the Bustard Islands in 2016.  We have had access to an island cottage in the Georgian Bay watershed for over 30 years where we have shared our passion for the Great Lakes with our two children, granddaughters, and many friends. What is the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  While our kids were still young, we set off on a week-long unsupported canoe trip on the Moon River in southern Ontario. As long time dog owners, we brought along our golden retriever and aging cocker spaniel. This was the first trip in which we were attempting to teach our children the joys of river camping. Along the way, our 12+-year-old cocker, Sarah, decided to unexpectedly up and die. This was extremely sad and rather perplexing, because…what do you do with the body of a 20-pound dog when you are camping on an island three days out?  Put it in a bag and carry it out or bury it on site in very little soil?  Does the “carry-out” rule apply to pet bodies?  Anyway, after saying our good-byes to Sarah, we were determined to bury her in the meager two-inch Muskoka topsoil, with a rock cairn on top.  But we were concerned that forest animals might disturb the grave site during the night. So, what do you do?  Yes, we all took our prospective turns peeing on and around the grave, repeatedly crying and laughing during the ordeal. The next morning, the cairn and grave were intact. Yes, this is a one-of-a- kind memory, certainly an event that our children have never forgotten! Which Paddle Florida trips have you gone on?  We have paddled on the Great Calusa Blueway and the Florida Keys Challenge.  Both great adventures! Can you describe a Paddle Florida Trip Highlight?  Paddling the open waters from island to island, observing and photographing the wild creatures above and below the water’s surface. The food is good but the entertainment was exceptional…especially musician Bing Futch! What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Just do it!  For the adventure, education, and paddle enjoyment, you cannot buy a better, fully supported paddle experience in Florida. Great people, including organizers, guides, and fellow paddlers. Our plan is to do more paddling with Paddle Florida!

Joe Shearer ~ February 2017

(01/30/2017) Where are you from? Your profession?  I’m an Air Force brat born in Tripoli, Libya, but I always thought of Panama City, Florida as my home. I graduated from high school there and went to undergraduate school at Florida State (Go ‘Noles!).  While I lived for more than 30 years in Los Angeles, it never felt like home.  I’m a proud Floridian and always have been! I enjoyed a career as a systems engineer working in the early years on oil and gas, chemical, and nuclear facilities design and construction projects for the Ralph M. Parsons Company.  My profession life closed with a 30-year stint as an Avionics Systems Designer and Architect for Northrop Grumman on various classified programs including the B-2 Bomber and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I relocated with Northrop Grumman in January 2015 from California to Melbourne, Florida, where the opportunities for water sports are endless.  I retired in June 2016 and can now avail myself fully of those opportunities.  I started paddling as a kayak fisherman, and from there to touring trips was a natural progression. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I’m a newbie to paddling and each place still seems better than the one before it!  Every Paddle Florida trip I’ve been on has dazzled me…but Scout Island in the Keys, well that really was breathtaking. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  I got dumped by a wave (kayakers call it “swimming,” I believe) on the Keys trip.  I went out at the end of the day to try my hand at kayak surfing with some other paddlers and bit off more than I could chew (now I know you’re supposed to lean into the wave).  But the water was warm and shallow and I was having an absolute blast, laughing like I haven’t in years.  I even managed to catch a few waves after that!  You can bet there are some skills training and more kayak surfing in my future (and likely more “swimming” too!). How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I’ve made every trip so far this season and plan to do the rest of them too! – the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, Ocklawaha Odyssey, and Florida Keys Challenge.  Next stop, the Great Calusa Blueway! Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?   On the Suwannee trip, I pushed off early one morning, just behind the leader.  It had been a cool night and a thick mist rose from the warm water, almost blindingly golden in the early light.  I hung suspended in a cloud, could see only feet beyond the end of my kayak, both river banks invisible.  All around dozens of whirlwinds danced on the water, the mist pushed in lines by unseen forces.  The sounds I heard through the stillness were a primordial music that spoke to the soul.  It was humbling and strengthening and nourishing.  The Paddle Florida motto is inspiring meaningful adventure and certainly it was all those things and more that morning. What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?   Join us…we’re having some serious fun!  The people you’ll meet are friendly and interesting, the food and entertainment have been good, it even counts as exercise, and the scenery…well I just don’t have words to do it justice.  

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