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Tips for Safe, Fun Paddling

  • This is Florida... be sure to bring (1) extra water (2x what you think you'll need), (2) suntan lotion, (3) insect repellant, and (4) hat. UV sunglasses are strongly recommended. A personal flotation device is mandatory.
  • Some areas are remote. Do not leave valuables in car.
  • Spills happen. Secure all gear important to your safety and comfort. Bring a dry bag for items you don't want to get wet. (At times, a dry towel can be much appreciated.)
  • In remote areas especially, don't paddle alone. Give your float plan to a friend or relative. Most outfitters require a signed float plan
  • Respect the weather. Be aware of tides, water levels, and currents. Phone apps such as MyRadar are great tools (when you have reception).
  • Water attracts smart phones. A dry phone case is always recommended.
  • Do not overload your vessel and watch out for motor boats and fishermen.

Florida Paddling Resources

Florida's Designated Paddling Trails
Trails-at-a-Glance (maps and descriptions)

Florida Paddling Trails (.pdf)
A guide to Florida’s top canoeing & kayaking trails
Non-profit supporting canoeing and kayaking in Florida through multi-day paddling/camping adventures.

Other Florida Trails

Other Recreation Resources

Florida State Parks

Paved Florida Bike Trails
100+ Florida Bike Trails, Top 10, Coast-to-Coast Trail
Our favorite Florida Travel and Outdoor Writers

Florida Trail Association
Florida Hiking Trails

Fun on the Suncoast
West Florida resource

State Regulations

  • Florida law requires a personal flotation device for each person on board (children under 6 must wear them). A sound device (such as a plastic whistle) is also required in some areas.
  • Separate fishing licenses are required for freshwater and saltwater fishing.
  • Between sunset and sunrise, a light is required.
  • If powered (electric or gas), vessel registration rules apply.
  • Collecting plants and animals without a permit is illegal in Florida. The feeding of wildlife is illegal in Florida. Many alligators are killed each year because they are feed by humans and thus become "nuisance gators."

About Florida Weather

  • Weather varies among the geographic regions, but a constant is the generally regular afternoon thunderstorms during the summer. Winters are generally the dry season.
  • The Florida Panhandle has four seasons, and winters can be cold with occasional subfreezing temperatures.
  • Central and North Florida is more warm and dry than the Panhandle. Spring and autumn with their moderate temperatures are the most pleasant seasons for paddling.
  • South Florida and the Florida Keys are subtropical to tropical and the seasons can be described as wet and dry. Winter is generally dry and usually warm. Consequently, snowbirds during the winter season can create crowded conditions in the parks and on the trails.
  • Hurricane season is June through October, fallen trees can block waterways, landings can be damaged.

Be considerate of the environment. Bring reusable containers and pick up all garbage!

A Call to Action

Water water everywhere! With more than 1,000 miles of coastline, more than 1,700 miles of rivers, streams and creeks, and 700 natural springs, Florida is largely defined by water. Water-related activities are also critical to our state's economy, in recreation, tourism, and jobs. Florida is home to two National Wild and Scenic Rivers (the Wekiva and the Loxahatchee). This natural heritage is a treasure to be maintained, yet our precious water resources are constantly under assault by drought, pollution, development, and agricultural use.

Citizens can help by contacting their legislators at the local, state and federal level and demanding policies that conserve and protect our water resources. Here's a link to find your Florida State representatives .

Here's a list of Support and Advocacy organizations for our environment, springs, and rivers:

Florida Conservation Coalition

Florida Water Coalition

Florida Wildlife Corridor

Florida Padding Trails Association

Save the Manatee Club

Sierra Club - Florida Chapter

Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University


League of Conservation Voters

Citizen Support Organizations (CSO's) and other groups working for specific projects or parks are included on our Florida paddling pages, where applicable.

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