On the Suwannee River

Destination: White Springs, FL

| Activities: Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, History

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


  • Learning about the natural history & the equally fascinating human history of this area
  • Paddling among huge old cypress trees that have lived there for hundreds of years
  • Experiencing both a blackwater river and a spring-fed crystal clear river
  • Stopping often to take pictures and watch wildlife
  • Enjoying quiet cabins and hearty meals after active days (and of course, singing "Old Folks at Home")

Departures and Prices

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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size and a local expert naturalist (male)
  • Three nights lodging
  • All meals from lunch on the first day though lunch on the last
  • Round-trip transportation from the Jacksonville (JAX) airport
  • Canoe and kayak rental and instruction
  • Entrance fees

Not included: airfare to Jacksonville, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and trip insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

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 [2] 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.

After our hike, we will settle in tonight, letting the feel of the area start to seep into our bones.
Today, after a relaxing breakfast, we turn to canoes for a completely different view of the Suwannee River. The Suwannee River is a blackwater river, so called because of the tannins that leach from the decaying vegetation of the surrounding forested swamps or wetlands, creating an acidic darkly stained water. The river is largely protected and we'll paddle a section from State Road 6 to Cone Bridge, about 5 hours, including time for paddling instruction and stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch on a beautiful sandbar. This stretch still retains some of the characteristics of the Deep Swamps and floodplains that leave the Okefenokee Swamp, with towering cypress, pines, and the oddly beautiful Ogeechee tupelo. We'll take our time on this stretch, so we have to get out on sandbars, go swimming, and drink in the natural world.

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 leave the rest of the afternoon open so we'll have time to pursue any interest we may have developed, hike along the Suwannee or bike in Stephen Foster State Park, visit the local craftsmen who display their skills in the park, or simply sit on the front porch swing and take some well-deserved R&R. Tonight we'll share a final farewell dinner and toast our new found appreciation of Florida.


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.


(55 reviews)
4.6 Food
4.7 Lodging
4.8 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Maggie C.
2 months ago

It was a change of pace for me. I usually do much more challenging trips, but meandering down a couple of rivers was quite pleasant. Also, most of the women on the trip really were "good company."

Mary H.
3 months ago

This really fulfilled a dream of mine. My grandmother always told me about Old Florida and the glass bottomed boat tours. Up until this trip, I had only been to the coasts. Now I can imagine what she was talking about. I would like to see a day at Okefenokee Swamp added, to see where the whole thing starts. It was interesting to paddle the Suwanee itself, but I didn't need 2 trips down that river. Maybe it was the black water that makes wildlife viewing there not particularly good. If anything, in addition to Okefenokee, I would add more time at clear water sites, as there are supposed to be a lot of those in the area. The Ichetucknee was indescribably beautiful, a dream. To think there are other clear water springs/rivers all over that area, and that they used to extend through the southern half of the state - it really made me aware of the importance of protecting what there is left. Suggestion to the guides - particularly on the Ichetucknee, it would have been great if they had instructed people to keep chatter at a minimum, to talk only when absolutely necessary and to point out wildlife with their fingers, not their tongues. Like most AGC tours, my biggest frustration is being in pristine areas while the group is chatting about life back home or the other trips they took. Drives me nuts! The last evening, the local guide showed us charts of the river and explained the geology. It would have been good to have that at the beginning.

Susan O.
3 months ago

Experiencing a unique ecosystem by water with sociable companions equally interested in the environment and happy outdoors.

Barbara R.
3 months ago

The congenial group of women and excellent guides. Housing and food in line with what I’ve come to expect from AGC i.e., comfortable beds and tasty home-made cuisine.

Claudia P.
3 months ago

The trip was special due to the variety of experiences, interesting companions, helpful and skilled guides, good lodging, healthy and tasty meals prepared by guides, informed geologist providing background knowledge and his wife is interesting and a great chief. Unexpected benefit was learning more about Stephen Foster's breadth of song writing. The museum and carillon within the park were very informative.

Susan T.
1 year ago

It was my first AGC trip, and I was so totally impressed with every aspect of the trip- guides, find, organization, accommodations, safety, etc.

Janet G.
1 year ago

How pristine and peaceful the rivers were. The nighttime sky was beautiful.

Andrea B.
1 year ago

Our guides, Jaime and Adele, made this trip special for me. They provided a safe and joyful space for all of us to enjoy this special part of Florida. The paddles on the Suwannee and Ichetucknee Rivers were unforgettable, peaceful, and beautiful. As always, we had great food and great companions to share it all with. I recommend this trip to anyone who wants a relaxing, short journey with good company in a special place. No experience required.

Cara R.
1 year ago

Carolyn M.
1 year ago

My favorite thing is always the amazing women on the trip and the camaraderie. I loved the paddling!! All three trips were a different, and I had the opportunity to try out a canoe. I also enjoyed the accommodations. It was nice sharing such a large space with 3 others then being able to gather as a group for dinner. The best of both worlds. Adele and Jamie were great guides and kept us very well fed. However, the dinner prepared by Dottie was amazing. I have no words for her incredible pecan pie and lemonade prepared with lemons from a tree in her yard. The trip was fabulous!

Sandra D.
1 year ago

Joan C.
2 years ago

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.

Deborah S.
2 years ago

“Old Florida” was unexpectedly beautiful. Clear water for paddling, manatees and terrific guides.

Jennifer A.
2 years ago

Paddling on the crystal clear waters of the springs. Also enjoyed that everything was planned for you from activities to the meals.

Elizabeth R.
2 years ago

Spending time with my sister and seeing the beautiful springs of Florida.

Joan S.
3 years ago

Did not really have expectations, it was a fun time

Michelle H.
3 years ago


Karen W.
3 years ago

Jaime R.
3 years ago


Judith L.
3 years ago

Sheila J.
3 years ago

Barb H.
3 years ago

Catherine B.
3 years ago

Beyond expectations.

Susan G.
5 years ago

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.

Ronette K.
5 years ago

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.

Linda V.
5 years ago

How can I choose just one?? Loved our cabin, the women, the water, the sunshine!

Karen R.
5 years ago

Learning a new skill

Bonnie M.
5 years ago

There was a flow to the trip....nice and easy. Liked the location, the activities, the people, the guides, the food.

Frances F.
5 years ago

Swimming in the spring fed pool and seeing 3 manatees in a river. Plus, avocados for lunch on Saturday!.

Barbra G.
5 years ago

Paddling on the ravishing rivers--both of them.

Dana T.
5 years ago

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.

Melissa H.
5 years ago

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.

Sheila W.
5 years ago

Kayaking with manatee in a beautiful river

Karen A.
5 years ago

Deborah C.
5 years ago

Paddling the rivers! Interactions with participants. Interaction with local naturalist

Sandra L.
6 years ago

Diane L.
6 years ago

The guides, both AGC and local, were excellent. Also loved the State Park cabins. The other participants were friendly and fun.

Marilee P.
6 years ago

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.

Jean W.
6 years ago

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

Jeanine B.
6 years ago

Anne-Claire F.
6 years ago

The actual trip reflected what was described hence the activities, lodging, food, etc. met my expectations.

Sandra L.
6 years ago

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.

Susan W.
6 years ago

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.

Ellie F.
6 years ago

Deb and Sarah were remarkable at rolling with the punches of organizational glitches and the weather!

Linda M.
6 years ago

Kayaking the second day.

Marianne A.
6 years ago

Georgia F.
6 years ago

Learning how to canoe and kayak and the interactions with the women.

Carol C.
7 years ago

Abigail S.
7 years ago

I can't say it exceeded expectations, because I didn't really have clear expectations, this being my first group travel experience.

Carlyn P.
7 years ago

Location. Kayak on Icherucknee River. Group was an interesting mix.

Sandra P.
7 years ago

Dottie and Dennis are a delight and meals were good as were the paddling experiences

Kathleen G.
7 years ago

The guides, Lisa and Sarah were great and very welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. My fellow travelers were amazing.

Paula K.
7 years ago

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

Sarah S.
7 years ago

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.

Maxanne W.
7 years ago

Kayaking on various rivrts6

  1. Where do we eat?

    The guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners in the cabins. You will go out for one dinner. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' for you to eat along the river or the guides will pack a picnic lunch that you can enjoy.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. The cabins are lovely and have two bedrooms, one with a queen bed and the other with a bunk bed. (this is a classic bunk bed with one bed above the other, the room is for 2 people). If you request a single supplement you will be in the room with a queen bed. They also have a lovely sitting area, porch, bathroom and galley kitchen.