Places to Paddle tm
Canoeing - Kayaking - Rafting

 
Ichetucknee Spring to Dampiers Landing at the South Parking in Ichetucknee Springs State Park near High Springs, Florida USA
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Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Al Vazquez, alvazquez@kayakguide.com
  • Date Submitted: 7/2010
  • Location: just north of High Springs, Florida USA
  • Class: 1 with a typical current of just over 1 mile per hour
  • Distance Paddled: about 2 miles one way
  • Water: clear spring water
  • Wildlife: wood stork, turtles, alligators, egrets, herons, grasshopper, lilies, snail eggs, fish, cypress trees, live oaks, Spanish moss
  • Special Regulations: no food, drink, tobacco, disposable items, or pets on the river. We were allowed to take sunblock. Note that this section of the river is only open during the summer from the Saturday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. The entry is limited to 750 tubers launching per day to protect it. Weekends are so busy with people tubing down this river that cars are in queue along the highway at 7 AM, though the park did not open until 8 am. Weekdays are best! Friday morning, we were the first car in line just before 8 am. All the side springs feeding the main channel were marked "Restricted Area", but perhaps they may be entered with the right permit in a kayak.

 

Entry

  • Directions: The From High Springs, go northwest on US 27. In Fort White, turn right onto Route 47 north. In about 1.5 miles, turn west (left) onto Route 238 (Old Bellamy Road). After about 3 miles, turn left into the north entrance to Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Another option for paddlers is to launch at Dampiers Landing (see below) and paddle up the this entry point, then back down stream.
  • Fee: $5 per paddler or tuber includes the shuttle to bring the driver back to the spring to launch
  • Description: About 100 foot dirt trail leading to wooden steps down to a launch platform at the water. Look for the canoe launch sign on the dirt road loop to drop boats as close as possible to this entry point.
  • Parking: paved parking, though most drivers drop their boats or tubes and passengers here, leave their vehicles at Dampiers Landing in the south parking area and take the shuttle to return the driver here to rejoin their passengers for the trip downstream.
  • Facilities: Restrooms, paved parking, swimming at the spring, nature trails
  • Special Handicap Access: None

Exit

  • Directions: From High Springs, go north on US 41. Less than a mile, turn west onto NW 210 Lane and follow it as it turns northwest to the ramp less than 1/2 mile down.
  • GPS: N 29° 57.620' W 82° 46.256' (actual reading)
  • Fee: None
  • Description: Slippery rocky beach and wooden ramp, unfortunately about two hundred yards of wooden boardwalk and paved trail from the parking area. There's a nice dirt road all the way to the beach, but the park did not allow kayakers to use it. Bring wheels to carry your boats that long distance.
  • Parking: paved on the other side of the concession stand and restrooms
  • Facilities: restrooms, showers, concession stand, picnic tables, nature trails, van shuttles to north area put in (drivers only) and trams to the mid-point entry about 25 minutes by tube ride upstream or from the end takeout just north of Route 27, another 1 hour tube ride downstream.
  • Special Handicap Access: None

 

Where We Paddled and What We Saw

Known as a popular river to tube casually downstream, this crystal clear, spring fed river is also a gorgeous paddle on this upper section of this tributary of the Santa Fe River. Like the Santa Fe River and other rivers in this part of Florida, the Ichetucknee exits the ground as an artesian spring with a healthy flow. Unlike the Santa Fe however, you kayak the Ichetucknee on clear water in this section. (The Aucilla River is an even more spectacular, faster flowing example of such a river that flows above and below the ground along a section of the Florida Trail.)

Entering the river from the ramp, paddle downstream to the right of the put in facing the river. The current was obvious as several people in tubes launched with us on Friday morning.


Like many such rivers, the Ichetucknee's water temperature is moderated by the ground and is usually a cool 72 degrees Fahrenheit year round. So it feels nice and cool in the hot summer and nice and warm on cold winter days.

We kayaked this section of the Ichetucknee River along with a few tubers under open stretches with a few overhanging live oaks with Spanish Moss.

Paddling anywhere in Florida during the summer, it's a good idea to check the weather forecast and Doppler radar before heading out as afternoon thunderstorms are common. Fortunately, we had a clear sunny day.

It's always a treat to see a wood stork; a bird with one of the ugliest heads, but gorgeous in flight in flocks numbering hundreds of birds.

Looking down into the clear water, we saw many fish and swaying grasses. It's possible there may be otters or alligators also.

We saw a number of turtles. But this was one of a couple of very large ones, warming itself in the sun of this open area on an old log.
Near Dampiers Landing, the tree canopy covers more of the river. We saw snail eggs, exotic flowers, and this colorful grasshopper by kayaking slowly with the tubers along the shoreline.