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Latest update: Oct. 2018

Santa Fe River... Kayaking in North Florida

The Santa Fe River runs 75 miles from Lake Santa Fe to the Suwannee River, and is an exceptionally beautiful river. For the first 18 miles it is a meandering stream and not navigable until a few miles before O'Leno State Park. The river goes underground within O'Leno. After about 3 miles it rises again at River Rise Preserve State Park. From here, it's about two miles to the US 41/441 launch (an easy paddle) and the start of the 26-mile Designated Florida Paddling Trail. (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Santa Fe River, kayak, canoe

Santa Fe River Kayaking Map


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Distance: 75 miles; 26 mile designated trail
Location: Alachua County (north of Gainesville)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: US 41/441 bridge (High Springs), US 27 bridge, Poe Springs, Rum Island Park, SR 47 bridge, and US 129 bridge (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Gainesville, University of Florida, O'Leno State Park

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Santa Fe Canoe Outpost (rentals)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of O'Leno

Santa Fe River... Comments and Photos

The best recreational paddling on the Designated Paddling Trail is up-river from the SR 47 Bridge. In this section when the water is low, there is an occasional need to portage. However, shallow water here restricts motorboat usage. Downstream from SR 47, the river deepens and motorboat traffic becomes more common.


High Springs Upstream to River Rise

From the US 41/441 bridge to River Rise is a beautiful, two-mile upstream trip, mostly through River Rise Preserve State Park. We launched from the High Springs Boat Ramp; the outfitter is also located at the bridge.

Downstream from US 41/441 to the US 27 bridge (about three miles, expect some portages), the river is wide and shallow with a moderate current, and abuts the River Rise State Preserve. This is a quieter, more peaceful section of the river, especially when compared to the popular springs downstream.

 

River Rise

At O'Leno State Park, the river goes underground, re-emerging three miles downstream at River Rise. Fed by an unknown number of springs - more than 35 have been reported - and the Ichetucknee River, the river below the Rise is wide and usually clear.



Poe Springs Upstream to US 27 Bridge

The ten miles from US 27 to SR 47 is popular with paddlers, tubers and divers due to a number of springs including Poe, Lilly, Jonathan, Rum, Blue, and Ginnie. We paddled between Poe Springs and the US 27 bridge.

More along the Santa Fe River

The 13 miles between SR 47 and US 129 includes more development along the riverbank. After the Ichetucknee joins the Santa Fe more motorboats become common. From the US 129 bridge, the last two miles to the Suwannee is wider and crowded with many motorboats.

Wildlife include deer, otter, turtles, and snakes with excellent fishing and bird watching. Terrain includes swamp, sand hill, flatwoods and hardwood hammock.

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