QUESTION: How do I make a reservation for a paddling trip?
ANSWER: Apply on-line at this link: camping reservations.
QUESTION: I don't want to camp overnight. Can I use the trail area anyway for day trips?
ANSWER: Yes, you are certainly welcome to explore the area on day trips. There is a wonderful diversity of paddling opportunities on rivers and along the Gulf. The paddling guide will give you useful information about day trips you can take in the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. Access the Office & Greenways and Trail website at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/ for information on other state canoe trails in the region.
QUESTION: Can I make up my own trip schedule and camping nights instead of taking one of the six trip options you have available?
ANSWER: No, the only trip options available for overnight camping are six designated trips. You must stick with your campsite permit schedule. We have set up this structure in order to accommodate the largest number of paddlers while protecting these small coastal hammocks and islands. You also may now reserve single nights at selected sites.
QUESTION: How many people can camp at a site?
ANSWER: Our seven primitive campsites are located on islands and coastal hammocks. These are fragile environments, and the clearings for camping are small. A maximum of eight people or four tents is allowed per site, per night.
QUESTION: Is there a fee for the permit?
ANSWER: No, at this time there is no fee for issuing camping permits.
QUESTION: I want to do the trail from south to north; is this permissible?
ANSWER: No, you must paddle from a north to south direction, even on the three-day trips. Due to the nature of each campsite, and their capacity to hold only one camping party, and due to scheduling challenges, we have set up this structure in order to accommodate the largest number of paddlers.
QUESTION: Can I apply for more than one trip at a time or an alternate trip if my dates are not available?
ANSWER: You may go on-line to check on availability of trip dates and to make a trip reservation. You may only apply for one trip per calendar month and you may not apply more than six months ahead of your intended trip date.
QUESTION: Do I need a GPS unit?
ANSWER: A GPS unit is very helpful to locate navigational reference points. The low angle of vision from a kayak can make it difficult to distinguish creek mouths and other reference points from the surrounding salt marsh. Be sure you bring extra batteries along with a hand-held compass as a back up.
QUESTION: Where can I leave my car?
ANSWER: We recommend you contact an outfitter to arrange shuttle service and secure parking. Parking areas are not patrolled and we cannot assume responsibility for any damage to your vehicle. Leave your vehicle at your own risk.
Check the www.purewaterwilderness.com/ and www.steinhatcheetoperry.com/ websites for a list of outfitters in the area for possible shuttle information. Also check with the concessionaire at the Econfina River State Park campground for secure parking and shuttle availability regarding the put-in at the Aucilla River at the northern end of the trail for Trips 1 & 2.
At the south end, the Suwannee Community Center has granted permission for overnight parking in front of their building and a public launch is available in the canal beside the building.
QUESTION: Can I buy groceries and eat at restaurants along the way?
ANSWER: Grocery stores along the route have limited supplies and are days apart on some portions of the trail. It is best to plan ahead and bring adequate freeze-dried food for your trip. Check the websites for Dixie and Taylor Counties to see restaurant and lodging options along the route:
QUESTION: What about potable water along the trail? How much do I need to bring with me?
ANSWER: The paddling guide will direct you to the location and quantity of water needed at refill points. You will need to bring collapsible containers sufficient for holding a total of 2 gallons of water. It is essential to stay well hydrated while paddling; we recommend a minimum of 1 gallon per person per day.
QUESTION: I want to camp as little as possible; do any of the different trips offer lodging at each stop?
ANSWER: At this time there are limited options for lodging along the paddling trail, and there are no trips that offer lodging for each night of the trail segments. You will be required to use a permitted campsite on any of the 6 trip options and you must be equipped and experienced with primitive camping. There are options for private lodging at Econfina River State Park, Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee, Horseshoe Beach, and the town of Suwannee. There are 7 designated camping sites for the paddling trail on the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. Camping is prohibited elsewhere on the management area.
- Trip 1 has lodging available four nights out of eight: Econfina River State Park, Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee, and Horseshoe Beach. Camping is required at Rock Island, Spring Warrior, Dallus Creek, and Sink Creek.
- Trip 2 has lodging available one night (Econfina River State Park). Camp at Rock Island the next night.
- Trip 3 has lodging available at Keaton Beach. Camp at Dallus Creek the next night.
- Trip 4 has lodging available at Horseshoe Beach. Camp at Sink Creek the first night.
- Trip 5 has lodging available at Econfina River State Park and Keaton Beach.
- Trip 6 has lodging available at Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee and Horseshoe Beach.
See these websites for lodging opportunities:
QUESTION: Are there bathrooms at the campsites or along the trail?
ANSWER: There are no facilities at present at the primitive campsites. The paddling guide includes locations of portable toilets and public restrooms where available. There are plans to eventually have composting toilets available at the primitive campsites. In the meantime, you are required to bury human waste in 'catholes' at least 6 to 8 inches deep and as far away from water and the camping area as possible. Pack out all paper and hygiene products.
QUESTION: How do I order the Paddling Guide?
ANSWER: Visit " Paddling Trail Guide" to buy a copy on-line or to print an order form, or call: (850) 488-5520.
QUESTION: How do I cancel my trip?
ANSWER: To cancel your reservation, go on-line, select your current permit, and hit 'expire'. This will give another group the chance to use the campsites you no longer need.
QUESTION: What kind of supplies and gear do I need to bring?
ANSWER: See our " Paddling and Camping Tips." The Paddling Trail Guide also provides a list of recommended gear and safety equipment.