Some people refer to this area as Old Florida, some call it the Real Florida. Many years ago it was a popular tourist destination because of its unique clear springs (some with reputed health benefits) and unsurpassed wild beauty. But as Florida tourism moved to the beaches and theme parks, this part became less known, leaving remnants of a more prosperous past. Which is a shame because it is an amazing place: the dark and ever-changing Suwannee River, the crystal clear springs of the Ichetucknee River, old cypress swamps rich in wildlife - all will leave you enchanted and feeling like you've stumbled on an amazing secret. Maximum group size: 10
|February 25 to February 28, 2023|
|$1595.00 - Limited Availability|
Not included: airfare to Jacksonville, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and trip insurance
We have rated this trip a 2 because all activities are 3 to 4 hours in length, with the option to not join a half-day if you choose. It is appropriate for active women in basic good health with sufficient mobility to get in and out of canoes and kayaks. No previous paddling or hiking experience is required.The trip is rated 2. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be walking regularly at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. Rating: 1  3 4 5.
We'll be paddling canoes on the Suwannee and kayaking on the Ichetucknee River, hiking various trails, swimming in clear waters, and learning about the rich human and natural history of this largely undiscovered area. An expert local naturalist will accompany us on much of the trip; he loves this area and has spent the last 40 years learning about and exploring it, and enjoys sharing both his knowledge and his passion.
We will be staying in spacious 2 bedroom cabins at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center Park Each cabin has one bedroom with a double bed and another bedroom with a bunk bed. The bunk bed configuration is; the lower bunk is a double bed and the upper is a single. There are ladders to get to the top bunk. All top bunk beds are offered at a 15% discount. The cabins share a bathroom, as well as living room and kitchenette, heating and cooling, a gas fireplace, and screened porch. A limited number of single supplements are available if you would like to ensure you have a single bedroom. Please note, you will still be sharing a bathroom. Options for accommodations can selected at registration. Cabins are equipped with linens and kitchen utensils. Picnic tables and grills are located outside each cabin. The cabins do not provide soap, shampoo, conditioner or items of that nature, you should plan to bring your own.
Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.
Our trip starts at the Jacksonville airport (JAX) at 10:00 am when your guides pick you up. We'll drive about 90 minutes west, where we'll encounter a landscape of clear springs, old forests, and winding rivers. At Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Park cabins, we'll meet our local expert naturalist guide who will be with us for much of the trip and whose expertise in biology and geology adds immeasurably to our understanding and enjoyment of the area. After a picnic lunch at the cabins, we'll start our exploration with a hike in Big Shoals State Park on the Bell Springs Trail. We’ll hike up to Big Shoals, Florida's only class III whitewater, known for its small waterfall. The trail, a section of the much longer Florida Trail, follows the Suwannee River and is an out-and-back; if you don't feel like hiking all the way to the Shoals, you can sit and gaze at the river. The Hawthorne formation which caps our limestone and protects the Floridan aquifer is exposed along the way.
This morning we drive about 45 minutes south to Ichetucknee Springs State Park. This park is particularly noted for the crystal clear Headspring, which feeds the Ichetucknee River. In contrast to the blackwater of the Suwannee, the water here is a clear aquamarine, making it possible to see the river bottom's fish and plants as we float on top. After first visiting the headspring, we return once more to kayaks and paddle for about two hours, past springs and tons of egrets, herons, and turtles. We'll pull out and enjoy lunch before hopping back in the van.
We’ll spend the morning back on the river in canoes or kayaks, paddling down stream from our put in point back to our cabins in Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Park. In contrast to the relatively wide river of Tuesday, the Suwannee is quite different here, much narrower and more twisty. This stretch of limestone bluffs has cut into the limestone of the Floridan aquifer and is the start of the world's highest concentrations of springs. We will stop at Suwannee Springs, a turn of the 19th and 20th century health resort built around the sulphur spring water. After a final picnic lunch, we’ll have you back at the Jacksonville Airport by 2:30 you can plan to fly out anytime after 4:00.
I enjoyed learning about this area of Florida and enjoyed being taught and encouraged to kayak and canoe. We were fortunate that the weather was good during our time there. It was unfortunate that many parts of the park itself - the museum, the cultural center and the carrilon were closed. Additionally the Suwannee was flooded. I was with five good friends, but we enjoyed the other couple and the sisters that were on our trip.
“Old Florida” was unexpectedly beautiful. Clear water for paddling, manatees and terrific guides.
Paddling on the crystal clear waters of the springs. Also enjoyed that everything was planned for you from activities to the meals.
Spending time with my sister and seeing the beautiful springs of Florida.
Did not really have expectations, it was a fun time
This was, to me, a novel and even exotic destination--never heard of it (other than the song, of course!) I was delighted with the variety of activities we did and the wonderful women i met.
An opportunity to canoe! Learning how to paddle a kayak with ease. Great gudes. Beautiful rivers. Interesting and enjoyable travel partners. Fun in every way.
How can I choose just one?? Loved our cabin, the women, the water, the sunshine!
Learning a new skill
There was a flow to the trip....nice and easy. Liked the location, the activities, the people, the guides, the food.
Swimming in the spring fed pool and seeing 3 manatees in a river. Plus, avocados for lunch on Saturday!.
Paddling on the ravishing rivers--both of them.
I greatly appreciated the chance to both canoe and kayak and then given a choice on the last day. Being on two different rivers was also a highlight for me. They were so different and unique, and they each had amazing things to see and experience.
The trip was very well organized. I love the multi sport format with hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. The women this trip attracted were phenomenal. Haven't laughed this much in a long time. Interesting, passionate, active, fun. I thought the guides Deb and Sarah were also wonderful. Nice mix of personalities. Food was perfect. And the cabins!!! Wow. I could have just stayed there another week. Beautiful area.
Kayaking with manatee in a beautiful river
Paddling the rivers! Interactions with participants. Interaction with local naturalist
The guides, both AGC and local, were excellent. Also loved the State Park cabins. The other participants were friendly and fun.
I had a great time. The other participants were welcoming and l was impressed that some of the women came on their own. I know that's not an easy thing to do. The guides handled the mix up in lodging without freaking out (at least in front of us). The lodging we had was above my expectation.
Great guides kept their cool despite many obstacles on this trip. Good meals. Great itinerary. Fun women. Love the all women trips you offer. So much more relaxed
The actual trip reflected what was described hence the activities, lodging, food, etc. met my expectations.
I loved the kayaking on the ichetucknee river, and could have done a whole lot more of that. I also wish we could have at least seen the Blue hole, but know that weather was a factor. Canoeing was nice, but 10 miles was a little long, but I could see that there were not alot of other options for safe take out spots so that might be why it was so long. 10 miles for someone that doesn't canoe is long. This was probably the only voiced comment I heard on the trip. It was nice having a guide on the river with Dennis's knowledge.
Not sure what I was expecting but I was not impressed with this trip. The "hike" was pretty well uneventful. There must be a better path/trail somewhere near there to walk. Canoeing was OK but 10 miles is a really long trip for beginning canoers. I started to get bored and was really looking forward to the end of the trip. Maybe it would help to have at least 2 other stops in additiion to lunch. If people weren't asking to stop for bathroom pruposes then they weren't drinking enough! Kayaking was OK but nothing spectacular to me.
Deb and Sarah were remarkable at rolling with the punches of organizational glitches and the weather!
Kayaking the second day.
Learning how to canoe and kayak and the interactions with the women.
I can't say it exceeded expectations, because I didn't really have clear expectations, this being my first group travel experience.
Location. Kayak on Icherucknee River. Group was an interesting mix.
Dottie and Dennis are a delight and meals were good as were the paddling experiences
The guides, Lisa and Sarah were great and very welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. My fellow travelers were amazing.
Loved the hike on the Bells Spring trail to the rapids and falls, wished it was longer. First time canoeing which was great. kayaking at Ichetucknee springs and of course the Suwannee River
I kayaked for the first time and really enjoyed the quiet and aloneness. Also swimming in a clear pool of clean spring water was great. The guides were superb.
Kayaking on various rivrts6