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:

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

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!   

Penny Greenler ~ May 2017

(04/24/2017) Where are you from? Your profession?  I currently live in West Chester, Ohio. I was born in England and we came over to Newfoundland, Canada when I was five. From there, we moved to Montreal when I was 9 until I graduated from McGill University in Montreal.  I have been a teacher my whole life!  I used to play school with my younger sister and then I tutored a first-grader in reading my senior year in high school. I graduated with a degree in physical education, taught PE for three years, and then switched to Montessori classroom teaching.  After 30 years, I retired on June 1st of last year.   When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I first tried kayaking at local Sierra Club weekend classes and fell in love with it.  I had been looking for a sport that wouldn’t be hard on my knees, which were a mess from distance running.  The class ended with a trip up a creek that was isolated and beautiful and only accessible by kayak.  I knew I had found my sport!   Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I’ve paddled to glaciers in Alaska, with Orcas in British Columbia, and this year I experienced the Florida springs on Paddle Florida trips, but I think my favorite place is Tybee Island off Georgia’s coast.  I love being in the warm salt water exploring the marshes and trying to surf in the waves (not always successfully!).   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  I think seeing wildlife makes a trip exciting. In Florida, I got to paddle with manatees who came up to the boat and rolled over for a belly scratch.  I paddled close to a pod of orcas in British Columbia and had to face a black bear in Alaska!  Oh and the gigantic alligators on the Ocklawaha!  (Kidding—they were just young’uns. J)   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  My first trip was on the inaugural Ochlawaha Odyssey last December, and then I just participated in the Suwannee River Paddling Festival a few weekends ago.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?   The food is great, the riverfront views from my tent are awesome, and the musical entertainment is fun—especially Bing Futch, my favorite.  I would also like to thank the volunteers who help us unload and launch our kayaks.  I have travelled solo and it’s been great having help getting a sea kayak into the water (especially on the sand dune launch on the Suwannee!).                                     What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?   First, take paddling lessons before the trip so you are comfortable and experienced for varying conditions.  Know how to set up your tent and don’t expect an air mattress to make it through the night!  If you can, bring your own kayaking gear.  And expect to have a great time!

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.

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