Santa Fe River Trip Report

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Published Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Date: 23 March 2004

Location:  Santa Fe River, High Springs FL

Number of Paddlers:  57

Boats:  16 Canoes, 4 Single Kayaks, 4 Double Kayaks and 6 Private Boats

Reference Used:  Paddlers Guide to the Sunshine State, Sandy Huff

Travel Time from Hacienda Hills:  Approx.  1-3/4 hours

Trip Length: 10 miles.  Put in water at approx 1030 and arrived at take-out approx 4 hours later.

Boat Rentals:

We used Adventure Outpost.  Charge was $34 per canoe, $25 per single kayak and $40 per double kayak and this price included shuttle service.  Private boat owners were charged $12 for shuttles if they wanted that service, otherwise, they had to arrange their own shuttle.  Kayaks include closed cockpit and sit-on-tops.

Air Temperature and Weather Conditions:

Day began with clear skies with temps in the upper 50s with a moderate breeze.  Shortly after we put in most commented that the temps rose to a more comfortable level, lower 70s but the breeze was certainly a factor at times as we were hit by it from all angles.   The current, while rated as moderate, was at times deceiving and somewhat stronger than moderate.  The river was clear but mostly stained a dark tea color.  Water by the many springs was crystal clear with water temps at a comfortable level.  To our surprise we encountered some ripples in the water caused by limestone rocks near the surface.   I was told by Lars Anderson, Adventure Outpost, that the river was lower than it has been in a while but still it was passable and wide enough to paddle around the few obstructions we encountered.

The River and Terrain:

I would describe the river as pleasant but not exciting.  It was reasonably wide and easy to navigate as, except for channel to various springs, there were no confusing channels and the one Island (Rum) could, we were told, be navigate it from either direction.  A few minor rapids surprised us but it did make for some thrill. The terrain was consistently the same but we did pass some water front homes.  The Springs were very nice and it was cool to paddle directly over them.  The water around the springs was a deep aqua.  Some ate lunch at Lilly Springs while others ate at Rum Island and Springs which was recommended by Lars.  There were no charges to stop at these locations.  Lars mentioned that others springs might charge as much as $4 each person to stop.  It should also be noted that there was no tree cover on the river and, as a result, I would not recommend it during the summer season.

Wildlife Sightings:

Lars Anderson of Adventures Outpost told us that we would probably not see any alligators and he was right.  He said we would see turtles and, again, he was right.  We did encounter mullets jumping out of the water and that was interesting.  Bird and other wildlife sightings were minimal.  The more interesting wildlife sighting was at Lilly Springs and true to the rumor, “Naked Ed” was discreetly nekkid, he was also very pleasant. There were ample warnings posted on the entrance to Lilly Springs regarding Ed's philosophy regarding attire.   He is the caretaker of Lilly Springs where some of us stopped.  Ed lives in a cool almost tree house and he sat on his (enclosed from the chest down) deck and welcomed us to his spring.  There was a more than interesting privy up the hill from the spring.  It is a wooden “out-house” structure but was immaculately clean and odor free (by my standards as an old backpacker and soldier) had a lamp (with electricity) and magazines to read as well as several of tidbits from Ed.  It had a modern type toilet bowl but water from an outside drum had to be poured into the bowl to flush.  At other springs we saw scuba divers in the water and one spring had a sign about cave diving.  

Difficulty Rating:

The river itself was not a difficult paddle.  However, and as stated, the wind was certainly an issue and I watched one canoe in front of me moved 6 feet sideways when a gust of wind hit it broadside.  Add to this the fact that we paddled almost 11 miles, the combination made for a long and tiresome trip.  Therefore, I would rate this as a 3.   

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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