When the rest of the country is bundling up for winter, enjoy an active week of paddling spring-fed rivers, hiking pine forests, and playing on the beach.
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Florida Caverns Expedition
Florida Caverns is one of the few state parks with dry (air-filled) caves and is the only state park in Florida to offer cave tours to the public. The Florida Cavern has dazzling formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones, and draperies. The Chipola River and Blue Hole spring provide areas for fishing, kayaking, and swimming.
My plan is to camp Sunday through Saturday at the Park and each day paddle a long section of the Chipola River. I will have my 15-passenger van and 20-kayak hauler trailer, so as long as folks volunteer to help with a shuttle each day, we can paddle almost the entire river!
Fed by numerous springs, this scenic 51-mile paddling trail flows through high bluffs, river swamps, and hardwood forests, with few signs of humanity along most of the river. Chipola River is photographer’s delight with colorful fall foliage, spring wildflowers, and abundant wildlife. The water alters color from clear gold to an opal-like blue, with crystal clear springs tucked along the river. Limestone bluffs and caves, part of the unique karst geology, add to the unique beauty of the Chipola River.
Day 1 — Set up camp, guided cave tour, and free time in the evening to hike or bike the many trails! Group dinner fireside.
Day 2 — Upper section, 4.5 miles of paddling till the river goes underground at Florida Caverns S.P. We will portage (vans) then put back in and paddle 6 more miles to the Magnolia Bridge. 10.5 miles of paddling
Day 3 — Magnolia Bridge to Johnny Boy Landing. 16.5 miles of paddling
Day 4 — Johnny Boy Landing to Jehue Landing. 18 miles of paddling
Day 5 — Ocheesee Pond, An amazing flooded cypress forest with no undergrowth makes for magical scenery and hushed voices. A sacred space for certain, Ocheesee Pond in-Florida.
Day 6 — Merrit’s Mill Pond has caves on the shoreline that you can paddle back into and springs with floating docks to tie off your kayak making snorkeling easier. Paddle/swim/fish or cave dive at Merritt’s Mill Pond in Marianna
Day 7 — Today we say our goodbyes to this wonderful part of Florida with a nice easy morning float on the crystal clear Spring Creek. With its narrow banks, twisty turns, and white sand bottom, it is the perfect visual enchantment before heading back to the noisy real world.
Our lodging consists of a group campsite, covered pavilion, and a bathhouse with modern amenities.