Big Bend - Saltwater Paddling Trail - FAQs
This site will be updated periodically with information concerning conditions and changes to the Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail. If you have any problems or complaints, or you observe damage or vandalism to signs, fire rings etc. along the trail, we would appreciate you letting us know. Call 352-620-7723 or e-mail us at TomM.Matthews@MyFWC.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. Access the Office of Greenways and Trails website for information on other state canoe trails in the region.
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.
Our seven primitive campsites are located on islands and coastal hammocks. These are fragile environments, and the clearings for camping are small. Each area is divided into 4 campsites. A maximum of eight people or four tents is allowed per camping area, per night (2 people/1 tent per site).
You may paddle the trail northbound or southbound; however the guide and trip information on the website are written for southbound travel. You will need to ensure you reserve the sites in the correct order for the direction of travel for your trip.
You may go online 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.
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.
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.
Visit the Natural North Florida and Taylor County Tourism Development Council 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 and 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.
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 or nonperishable food for your trip. Check the Taylor County Tourism Development Council website for Dixie and Taylor Counties to find restaurant and lodging options along the route.
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 two gallons of water. It is essential to stay well hydrated while paddling; we recommend a minimum of one gallon per person per day. Note that the guide is written for southbound travel. You will need at minimum 2 gallons/person between Econfina River State Park and Spring Warrior Fish Camp, 1 gallon between Spring Warrior Fish Camp and Keaton Beach County Park, 2 gallons between Keaton Beach County Park and Steinhatchee, 2 gallons between Steinhatchee and Horseshoe Beach County Park, and 2 gallons between Horseshoe Beach County Park and Suwannee.
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 six trip options and you must be equipped and experienced with primitive camping. There are options for private lodging at Econfina River State Park, Spring Warrior, Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee, Horseshoe Beach and the town of Suwannee. There are seven designated camping sites for the paddling trail on Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. Camping is prohibited elsewhere on the management area.
- Trip 1 has lodging available five nights out of eight: Econfina River State Park, Spring Warrior, Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee and Horseshoe Beach. Camping is required at Rock Island, 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, Spring Warrior and Keaton Beach.
- Trip 6 has lodging available at Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee and Horseshoe Beach.
See these websites for lodging opportunities:
At present, there are no facilities 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.
To cancel your reservation, you can go online to the account you used to reserve the trip and cancel or you can call (352) 620-7723 or email TomM.Matthews@MyFWC.com. This will give another group the chance to use the campsites you no longer need.