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Canoeing - Kayaking - Rafting

Santa Fe River from High Springs Boat Ramp to River Rise State Park, 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 about 1 mile per hour
  • Distance Paddled: 6 miles round trip
  • Water: fresh, tannic water that mirrors the sky beautifully
  • Wildlife: turtles, alligators, egrets, herons, cormorants, cypress trees, live oaks, Spanish moss
  • Special Regulations: none

Entry and 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° 51.128' W 82° 36.681' (actual reading)
  • Fee: None
  • Description: Cement ramp and small beaches on either side of the ramp. Beware of rocks along the beaches and shoals in the area of the ramp and especially downstream.
  • Parking: paved beside the ramp and unpaved along the road.
  • Facilities: None
  • Special Handicap Access: None

 

Where We Paddled and What We Saw

We paddled the Santa Fe River upstream from just north of High Springs Florida to where this section ends as it emerges from the ground in River Rise State Park. A number of rivers in north central Florida disappear below ground into sinks and reappear downstream from rises such as this one. (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 upstream to the right of the put in facing the river. Across the river, you'll see an old bridge abutment and a couple of large cement columns fallen in the river. Beware of rocks and shoals just under the surface of the river when kayaking or canoeing in this particular area.


Like many such rivers, the Santa Fe'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 Santa Fe River under an abundant canopy of large oak trees laden with Spanish moss and tall cypress trees, staying out of the hot summer sun as much as possible in their generous shade.

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.

Turtles warmed themselves all along sunny sections of the Santa Fe River. And we were usually able to kayak quietly enough to get some nice photos. Turtles on logs often jump in the water when approached.

At times, this particular section of the Santa Fe River can become clogged with water hyacinth, the plants showing behind the turtles, to the point of being impassable for kayaking and canoeing. This usually happens during periods of drought and low flow on the river. After normal rains, the river current increases and sweeps these floating rafts of vegetation free.

 

Tannins from leaves that fall into the Santa Fe River upstream give the water a dark brown "coffee" color. On still sections of the river, this water becomes a perfect mirror of the sky and shorelines. Cypress knees along the shoreline, like those in the photo, reflect nicely in the river water as do the cypress, live oaks and the sky and clouds

This time, the Santa Fe River was free of any obstructions that would have required us to portage our kayaks around or over them. We paddled easily around some fallen trees and a few clumps of floating hyacinth that just made the trip even more visually appealing.

We paddled under old live oaks that stretched their arms laden with Spanish moss across the river and over our heads.

 

A sign posted on the shoreline informed us of our entry into River Rise State Park and noted that all plants, wildlife, and historical artifacts are protected and camping is prohibited in the park.

At this point, we knew were were getting close to the wide, round pool of calm water of River Rise, the turnaround point at the end of a nice afternoon of kayaking the Santa Fe River at

GPS: N 29° 52.427' W 82° 35.477' (actual reading)