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

Paddle Florida staff members scout 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!

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Archived Happy Paddler newsletters:
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
Archived Happy Paddler Newsletters

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

Board of Directors:
Nickie Kortus, President
Whitney Sanford, 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.

Brack Barker ~ June 2016

(05/28/2016) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born and raised in Melbourne, Florida, and currently live in Williston. I’m the owner/guide/instructor at Wild Florida Adventures, providing kayak and hiking day tours since December 2002. I also provide classes at Santa Fe College in Gainesville relating to the outdoors. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  In the summer of 1963, I became exposed to canoeing via the YMCA summer camp in Brevard County. I’ve paddled the waters of the state since then, switching over to kayaks in 2000. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That is like asking which is your favorite child! I love all waters whether fresh or salt, though I do especially like the coastal estuarine environment and visiting offshore islands. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?   Observing wildlife and nature in all of its forms. Seeing a species, whether plant or animal, for the first time while paddling. Encountering the unexpected is always a thrill! Explain your Paddle Florida role and which trips you’ve gone on so far.     I’m a volunteer who helps with the daily operation of the Paddle Florida events on the water as a guide and on land running the lunch van, filling water containers for the guests, or even the wash station. I’ve been on the Withlacoochee (Gum Slough only) 2014; Florida Keys Challenge, Great Calusa Blueway, Ochlocknee River Dam to Bay, and Suwannee Paddling Fest in 2016. Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  One highlight was the Florida Keys Challenge, leading the group every day, paddling the crossings from island to island, and immersing myself in the local environment by exploring the beaches and campsites. The music was great too (Bing Futch!). What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  My suggestion would be to pick a trip that best provides you with a challenge, grow each day in your exposure to the group experience, and enjoy your time! And remember “we’ll get it figured out.”

Ray Steed ~ May 2016

(04/28/2016) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I am originally from Houston, Texas, and after a series of moves around the United States, we settled in the Atlanta, Georgia area where we have lived for the past 25 years. I retired from The Coca-Cola Company in 2014 after a 33-year career in technical - I am a microbiologist by education. My last role was VP, QSE (Quality, Occupational Health & Safety, and Environmental Sustainability) for Coca-Cola North America.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? Growing up on the Texas coast, I spent my spare time in and on the water. I started paddling canoes on the rivers and bayous around Houston. I actually purchased my first kayak for my oldest son when it became obvious that my family had outgrown our canoe during a paddling trip in Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp. That was the beginning of many more kayaks and family kayak paddling trips. Where is your favorite place to paddle? Most of my kayak paddling is on the Chattahoochee River, which is just outside my back door. However, my favorite paddling is in tidal creeks and saltwater bays. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? I was able to watch a group of young boys mature and really pull together on a 7-day self-supported wilderness canoe trip in Quetico Provincial Park when I was an adult Scout leader.   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? I have been on four Paddle Florida trips— the Wekiva/St. John's River Ramble, the Wild Wonderful Withlacoochee, the Bartram History Paddle on the St. Johns River, and the Dam to the Bay trip on the Panhandle’s Ochlockonee River. What keeps you coming back? Beyond the opportunity to experience new rivers, I enjoy the friends I have made on these trips and the chance to see them again, the evening entertainment, and all of the support provided by the staff and volunteers. Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? My first Paddle Florida trip introduced me to Florida springs.  I had never seen such clear and beautiful water. I paddled close to the lead boat and was shocked when the wildlife simply ignored our presence. This trip was even more rewarding as Doug Alderson named all of the plants and birds as we paddled downriver. What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  I would recommend registering early. I recently missed a trip because it had completely filled before I submitted my registration. These are great experiences and I hope to go on many more.

John & Beth Courtright ~ April 2016

(03/31/2016) Where are you from?  Your professions? John worked as a Miami-Dade County firefighter/ paramedic. Beth worked as a registered nurse.  We both retired in November 2009 and live in Naples, Florida.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? After retirement, we finally had the time to pursue new activities and interests.  We both love to be outdoors and active, so paddling was a natural fit for us.   Where is your favorite place to paddle? We love paddling and camping in the 10,000 islands, but we also enjoy exploring the springs/rivers of northern Florida.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? Perhaps this would be better characterized as the most challenging thing to ever happen on a paddling trip.  In May 2012, we were paddling from Hillsborough River State Park as we approached an ominous sign that warned “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” We were at the start of a section called Seventeen Runs.  We noted that this was about a five-mile section and it was just before 2 p.m.  Of course, we paddled onward. Lucky for us it was the super moon night since we had only one meager flashlight amongst our group of four.  After about 40 or more portages over large trees in thigh-to-waist deep water, we arrived at the take-out around midnight.  This was an extreme “Gonzo” paddle…perhaps more accurately described as “a wet hike carrying a kayak.”   Describe how you are able to combine your geocaching and paddling interests. Geocaching was another activity we started upon retirement.  It involves hunting “real world” treasure using satellites/GPS. There are millions of caches hidden around the world.  Our favorite type of cache to find is one that involves paddling.  Of course, we try to search for a few on our Paddle Florida trips.  [Editor’s note: Check out for more details.]   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? We have been on several Paddle Florida trips.  Our first one was the 2014 Ochlockonee trip: a fun wet rustic paddle.  We then attended the 2015 Suwanee River Paddling Festival weekend trip.  In December 2015 we did the Bartram History Paddle and February 2016 the Great Calusa Blueway.   And we should just have completed the March Ochlockonee trip, which was so much fun we opted to go again!   What keeps you coming back?  Paddle Florida trips are addictive.  They satisfy our desire for adventure, kayaking, and camping.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? The Bartram History Paddle was amazing.  We were immersed in “Old Florida,” following Bartram’s 250-year-old trail with Sam and Dean’s guidance.   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? If you love paddling and camping, then pack your gear, load your kayaks, and go with the flow!

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