10,000 Islands Experience


10,000 Islands Experience

January 17-22, 2022

Paddling Itinerary:
From our basecamp at the boat basin at Collier-Seminole State Park, we will have easy access to explore the Blackwater River and to paddle the 13.5 mile Collier-Seminole State Park Loop. The launches for the East River, Turner River and coastal paddles to White Horse Key and Cape Romano are a 15 to 30 minute drive from the park. We will provide parking at Collier-Seminole State Park. Sign-up for the paddles will be the night before and group sizes will vary depending on capacity (parking etc.). The locations we will visit are weather and tide dependent and launch times will vary depending on conditions. The paddle choices shown below will also include a longer option on the Turner River to Chokoloskee with a visit to the Havana Café and the Smallwood Store. And a shorter paddle from the Gulf Coast Visitor’s Center in Everglades City to Chokoloskee with exploration of the Halfway Creek Paddling Trail.

10,000 Islands Paddling Experience

ChoicePaddle ChoicesTypeTotal MilesDrive Time
1East River Paddle TrailEasy715
2Turner River Canoe TrailEasy8-1030
3Blackwater River Mud LakeShort6-70
4Blackwater River - Collier-Seminole State Park LoopLong13.50
5Goodland to White Horse Key Short7-1235
6Goodland to Cape RomanoLong14-1635
7Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park to Keewaydin IslandShort815

Evening Programs: Evening programs will include educational speakers and live music.

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. Before each trip registration deadline, requests for fee refunds will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

***You will receive a confirmation email message 7 - 10 days before the event with all the latest details on the trip***

Shuttle Details: Paddlers will self shuttle to the launch each day.

Boat & Gear Recommendations

For this trip, we recommend either a 14 foot or longer sit in kayak (for our easy paddles), or a 16 foot sit in kayak for our short or long open water paddles. The easy paddles are for beginner paddlers or nature lovers, and you should be in moderately good physical condition and know how to swim. For the short and long open water paddles we recommend a rudder or skeg and a spay skirt. You should also have solid kayaking, rescue, wet exit and swimming skills. If you have any questions about the kind of environment you will encounter on this trip, please contact Bill Richards at bill@paddleflorida.org

Paddle Florida Policies

  • All paddlers must attend the trip overview and orientation on the first evening. Paddlers must adhere to the safety guidelines presented.
  • All paddlers must wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) and whistle at all times on the water.
  • Paddlers under age 18 are the responsibility of, and must be accompanied by, a parent or guardian. No more than two children under the age of 12 per adult guardian.
  • Sorry, no pets allowed.
  • All paddlers must provide an emergency contact information and sign a Waiver of Claims and Release of Liability form. Parents must sign for their children under the age of 18.
  • People-powered watercraft only.
  • Paddle Florida adheres to all rules put forth by the public parks we stay in, including the ban on alcoholic beverages.
  • All paddlers must respect private property along waterways.
  • All paddlers must have basic paddling and swimming skills
  • Violations of any of these policies can result in the paddler being removed from the event without refund.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1/Monday, January 17: Collier-Seminole State Park
Paddling Miles: 0

Trip participants will check in at Collier-Seminole State Park between 1-5PM. After checking in, they will set up their tents in the boat basin / group camping area. Collier-Seminole State Park lies partly within the great mangrove swamp of southern Florida, one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world. A wide variety of wildlife, including several imperiled species, inhabits this unusual blend of temperate and tropical native plant communities. You can experience the park on a beautiful 3.5 mile bike trail, and on the water on the Blackwater River trail which we will be exploring together. The Bay City Walking Dredge and the Royal Hammock Nature Trail are also worth a visit. Dinner will be served at 6PM, followed by an overview of the trip and an educational presentation by regional waterway advocates as part of our place-based learning programs. Afterwards, we’ll light the campfire.

Day 2-5, Tusday January 18 - Friday January, 21:
Paddler’s Choice of easy, short or long paddle

Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. From 8:30-9:30, paddlers will shuttle to the launch site of their chosen paddle. Please note that shuttle and launch times will vary depending on weather and tides. Paddlers will pack their lunch in the morning so they will have it with them for their chosen paddle. Paddle Florida will provide a water bottle at check in, and we will have water jugs available to refill it each day.

After their chosen paddle, paddlers can relax for the afternoon or explore the park’s hiking trails or the Bay City Water Dredge. After our 6PM dinner, paddlers will be treated to the educational speaker or musical entertainment for the evening. We’ll end the evening around the campfire.

Day 6/Saturday, January 22: Group(s) morning paddle
Paddling Miles: 8

After breakfast at 7:30 a.m., paddlers will launch at the boat basin as we explore the Blackwater River together. A final lunch will be served as paddlers pack up their boats and camping gear and head back home with fond memories of a great few days spent on the water.

Trip Choices


Paddlers will launch from Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park to complete the East River Paddle Trail.

The East River canoe launch is tucked away down an unmarked dirt drive off U.S. 41, five miles west of State Road 29, on the south side of the road.  The river is a primarily brackish water and tidal responsive creek that flows southwest to Fakahatchee Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands.  It is a beautiful and varied creek, passing through a succession of small lakes and canopied mangrove tunnels before widening into a tidal river. The mangrove tunnels are particularly beautiful, becoming larger and more majestic with each passing lake.


Turner River meanders through freshwater marsh, mangrove habitat, and sawgrass prairie. The mangrove tunnels can be narrow and sometimes easier to push through than paddle. Smaller kayaks and canoes are the best choice here. Starting at the Tamiami Trail, a few miles east of Everglades City, it begins in an achingly beautiful freshwater cypress forest of Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge. Then the giant cypress trees, maples and pond apples give way to saltwater-loving mangroves as you make your way through mangrove tunnels too tight for paddles: Finally, the trail continues through open sawgrass marsh.


Explore the mangrove forest of the Everglades 10,000 Islands at Collier-Seminole State Park. Journey through the Blackwater River for the adventure of a lifetime. The tidal river system is host to a variety of birds and other wildlife including the Florida Manatee throughout different times of the year. The Blackwater River is part of a 13.5 mile paddling circuit that winds through Collier-Seminole State Park. This includes tidal creeks and bays as well as the Blackwater River. A diverse community of wildlife, including roseate spoonbills, inhabit the preserve. The first 0.5 mile is on a wide man-made channel to the Blackwater River.

The upper river narrows and winds through the mangrove forest where you will see red and black mangroves. Mud Bay will be at approximately 2.5 miles. For those paddlers completing the loop, we will continue on to Royal Palm Hammock Creek, Palm Bay and Blackwater Bay before re-entering the Blackwater River.


The Goodland Boating Park is a 5.22 acre park on Goodland Bay. Goodland Boating Park provides direct access to the Ten Thousand Islands and to the Gulf of Mexico. Located on the Goodland Bay, the park has a two-lane boat launch ramp. White Horse Key is located 6 miles southeast of Goodland. It has sandy beaches on the south side, nicely sheltered from prevailing winds. The surrounding water is very shallow, not suitable for motorized craft.

Goodland to Cape Romano is at least a 14 mile loop, much of it in open water on Gullivan Bay in the Ten Thousand Islands. This is a short and relatively easy paddle for intermediate paddlers with several route options depending on weather conditions


The Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park is the only public access facility in Collier County designed exclusively for launching paddle crafts, which are non-motorized vessels such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. The facility features a ramp, picnic pavilions, and restrooms which will also be accessible to pedestrians from the nearby Collier Boulevard boat ramp. The Park provides public access to McIlvane Bay, a shallow mangrove fringed-bay that provides outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing and exploring quiet backwaters in a relatively unexplored part of the Reserve.Keewaydin Island is a primary barrier island located off the coast of Naples, in Collier County. It can be reached only by boat. It is managed by the State of Florida's Coastal Office, in cooperation with NOAA, within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Keewaydin Island is monitored nightly for Loggerhead turtle nesting activity by The Conservancy of Southwest Florida


TWe will launch at the Turner River and head to Chokoloskee with a stop at the Havana Café and at the Smallwood Store. In the heart of Chokoloskee, the island connected to Everglades City, there is a piece of Havana, Cuba waiting for you to discover. Havana Café of the Everglades is a small hole in the wall restaurant that you will never forget after visiting. From delicious Cuban sandwiches to delectable seafood entrees, Havana Café serves the best Caribbean-style dishes (your meal here is at your own expense).


This route is a microcosm of South Florida, it offers a good view of the beauty left under park protection. Everglades National Park is an American national park that protects the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades in Florida.The park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River.

Mission Statement

PADDLE FLORIDA is a non-profit corporation that promotes water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection via fun and educational multi-day paddling trips in Florida’s most spectacular river and coastal environments. The vehicle for carrying out this mission is the staging of the multi-day paddling/camping trips in each of Florida’s five water management districts from October to April each year. Paddle Florida also seeks to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism in general, and paddling in particular.

Ranging from three to six days, trips are open to all paddling skill levels and designed to maximize enjoyment of Florida’s natural environments while engaging and empowering citizens so that they may become involved in the protection and restoration of our waterways.

If you wish to be pampered by professional guides, this isn’t the trip for you. But, if you want to experience a real community brought together under a common goal and by the thrill of adventure, Paddle Florida is the trip for you

The Meal Plan

Your Paddle Florida trip fee covers the meal plan, which provides hearty catered breakfasts and dinners, plus daily lunch snacks of assorted fruits, sandwich items, snacks, and drinks.

General Guidelines


Each paddler is limited to two bags and a total of 40-pounds of luggage. You have to haul your baggage and place it in the gear truck each morning, and haul it back to your campsite each evening of the trip. After paddling all day (about 8,000 paddle strokes per day), a 40-pound bag is really heavy. We recommend you pack as lightly and tightly as possible. This saves your back and the backs of your fellow paddlers. Everyone is expected to assist with the loading and unloading of the truck during the week.

Items we would rather not see in your luggage include bulky chaise lounge chairs, framed bedding/cots, and boxes without tops. Your gear should be packed so that it will not get wet. In the afternoon, your baggage may be removed and placed outside the gear truck where it will be exposed to the elements. Overnight rains may result in gear being packed up wet. A wet tent on top of your clothes bag will result in wet clothes. Plan on inclement weather and make sure you have a bag that will protect important gear in the event of rain.

Please place a label on your luggage with your name on it and make sure your bags are secure.

Suggested Packing Lists

For Water: [Note: Unless you’re wearing it, every item you bring should be secured to your boat. Carabiners and bungee cords can be handy devices for this purpose.]

  1. Boat and paddle.  Need to rent? Naples Outfitters
  2. PFD.  Every Paddle Florida participant must wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device while on the river (no ifs, ands, or buts).
  3. Every kayak and canoe should have two lines, a bow line and a stern line, each 8-10 feet in length, secured in such a way that they are readily accessible, but cannot come loose accidentally. Loose ropes increase the risk of entanglement in the event of a capsize.  Kayaks should have grab-loops at both bow and stern.
  4. An extra throw rope in case of emergencies should be stored safely in each boat.
  5. Attach a whistle to your PFD or body to signal for help in case of emergency.
  6. A knife.
  7. Waterproof matches or other fire source in waterproof covering.
  8. First aid kit—each vessel should bring a first aid kit stored inside a waterproof covering.
  9. Repair kit—each vessel should be able to make their own repairs (i.e., duct tape, sealant, waterproof tape).
  10. Rain gear—be prepared to get wet and potentially cold. Every participant should have access to a lightweight jacket or fleece, rain jacket, and rain pants or kayak skirt.
  11. Dry change of clothes—be prepared to take an unexpected swim. Every participant should have access to a dry change of clothes kept in a waterproof covering.
  12. Appropriate close-toed footwear that will protect your feet from unseen underwater hazards and permit you to walk comfortably on slippery and jagged limestone when launching and taking out.  Flip flops do not meet these criteria.
  13. Sun protection—sunburn might be the trip’s biggest hazard. Bring ample sunscreen and wear a protective hat and sunglasses.
  14. Mask and snorkel? You’ll be paddling by a dozen or so springs on this trip. Explore them!
  15. Water—drinking water will be readily available along the Paddle Florida route. Bring sufficient water bottles for the day’s paddle for everyone in your boat.
  16. Food—there is little access to restaurants or grocery stores along the Paddle Florida route. Lunch snacks each day are provided to registered participants. You may also want to bring along your own snacks.
  17. Dry Bag or Ziploc—bring a waterproof bag to protect additional items you don’t want to get wet, like your camera or cell phone.
  18. GPS unit? We’ll give you a map, but a GPS unit might also be handy to note locations of campsites and springs.

For Land:

  1. Tent
  2. Sleeping bag, pad, and pillow
  3. Camp chair
  4. Clothes to keep you comfortable in temperatures generally ranging from 50-85 degrees. Think layers. You’ll likely be wearing more during potentially chilly mornings, then peeling off layers as the day progresses. Remember dry shoes for when you’re in camp and keep in mind there are often hiking trails available at the parks we camp in.
  5. Bathing suit, plus maybe a mask, snorkel, and/or fins. You will be paddling and camping near some of the state’s most beautiful first-magnitude springs on this trip. Enjoy them!
  6. Headlamp and/or flashlight.
  7. Toiletries and medications.
  8. Other tent items: reading materials, iPod, ear plugs…?
  9. A camera to record the awesome memories you’ll be making!

We look forward to paddling with you. Please contact us if you have questions!

Documents Attached to 10,000 Islands Experience:
2019 - 2020 USCA Waiver Release Form
Flager Trip 2019 - Paper Registraton Form
Flager Trip Itinerary - 2019
Registration Information