The Santa Fe River runs 75 miles from Lake Santa Fe to the Suwannee River, and is an exceptionally beautiful river. For the first 18 miles it is a meandering stream and not navigable until a few miles before O'Leno State Park. (Detailed map, photos and more description below.)
|Distance: 75 miles; 26 mile designated trail
Location: Alachua County (north of Gainesville)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Launch points: US 41/441 bridge (High Springs), US 27 bridge, Poe Springs, Rum Island Park, SR 47 bridge, and US 129 bridge (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: High Springs (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Gainesville, University of Florida, O'Leno State Park
At O'Leno State Park, the river goes underground, re-emerging three miles downstream at River Rise. Fed by an unknown number of springs - more than 35 have been reported - and the Ichetucknee River, the river below the Rise is wide and usually clear. The best recreational paddling is the 26 mile Designated Paddling Trail from High Springs to Branford at the Suwannee River. When the water is low there is an occasional need to portage.
From the US 41/441 launch to River Rise is a beautiful two-mile trip upstream through River Rise Preserve State Park. From US 441 to the US 27 bridge (three miles) the river is wide with a moderate current, and abuts the River Rise State Preserve. The ten miles from US 27 to SR 47 is popular with paddlers and divers due to a number of springs including Poe, Lilly, Jonathan, Rum, Blue, and Ginnie. The 13 miles between SR 47 and US 129 includes more development along the riverbank, and after the Ichetucknee joins the Santa Fe are more power boats. The last two mile stretch to the Suwannee while wide is crowded with many powerboats.
Wildlife include deer, otter, turtles, and snakes with excellent fishing and bird watching. Terrain includes swamp, sand hill, flatwoods and hardwood hammock.
More information on paddling at the Santa Fe River (opens in a new window):
- Florida Greenways and Trails-Santa Fe River Paddling Trail
- State of Florida - River Rise Preserve State Park
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Santa Fe River
Santa Fe Canoe Outpost