Getting in/out of kayaks; paddling about 4.5 hours; one-way, downstream on Santa Fe River; relatively wide waterway (averaging nearly 100 feet across) with gentle current.
Arrive at the put-in point on the Santa Fe River, our paddle downstream will be a one-way trip on this broad, easy-flowing river. While this is primarily a blackwater river (the most common river type in Florida), we will pass one of the greatest concentrations of clear, artesian springs in Florida. Our route will carry us past over 15 named springs and many smaller, unnamed ones, as well as a couple of swallet holes where the water flows down into the ground—basically the reverse of springs. Few rivers compare with the Santa Fe for viewing and studying freshwater springs, swallets, and the karst terrain. Along the way, we’ll make stops and have opportunities to learn more about the springs the keep our eyes peeled for wildlife.
At Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, we’ll have picnic lunches.
Remaining at Blue Springs, we’ll gather with the head park ranger who will lead a lecture and walk focused on the ecology and biodiversity of Florida’s springs, which represent some of the most endangered natural land forms in Florida. The environmental health of these systems is inextricably tied to the health of the Florida Aquifer and this presentation will illustrate the importance of springs as natural gardens, the threats that are resulting in their degradation, and a possible path for their recovery and sustainable future. We’ll then return to the inn.
Dinner at a local restaurant
We’ll then settle in on the porch for a lecture from a Florida historian on the commerce of the river, which will feature reports about industries such as logging, impact on Native American communities, and more.