Paddling Trails

Nearby areas for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle-boarding

Callalisa Creek

Callalisa Creek is an excellent area for kayaking, canoeing, and even stand-up paddle boarding.

The fishing is very good no matter the time of day. The best time in the creek is during high tide. Also make sure you bring a camera, as there are many photo chances you won't want to miss such as dolphins and various birds! Once you launch go left under the bridge and follow the main water. During high tide, there are many different cuts and trails to scout out. 90% of them will put you back in the main water but there are those few that become a dead end!

Directions to launch: State Road 44 East to Peninsula, turn left on Peninsula, and then a quick left again to the park. When launching Kayaks go left under the bridge and follow the main waterway - it’s a lot of fun with breathtaking cuts and turns.

Southeast Trail

Launch from the beach at Menard-May Park, paddle across the ICW and Firecracker Island, and note the large sandbar at low tide. Turn right and stay to the right as you paddle south just past the cut on the right, and paddle left around Mangrove Island on the east side of the channel.

You can paddle around these Mangrove Islands and see many species of birds: blue herons, snowy egrets, brown and white pelicans, rosette spoonbills, and osprey, just to name a few. You will also spot sea turtles, dolphins, manatees, and rays. There are quite a few oyster beds, so closed-toed water shoes are recommended.

Directions to Launch: Use the beach area to launch at Menard-May Park, which is located at 413 So Riverside Drive, Edgewater, FL 32132.

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Spruce Creek

Spruce Creek, an Outstanding Florida Waterway, is a natural blackwater river (tannic acid from swampy vegetation stains the water black at its inception at the upper creek). Downstream, the creek becomes navigable, gradually widening as it approaches Strickland Bay.

Many houses now line the creek west of I-95, and the best recreational paddling is from Spruce Creek Park to I-95 and Strickland Bay (6 miles) and within Spruce Creek Preserve.

Strickland Bay converges with Turnbull Bay and accesses the Indian River/Intracoastal Waterway. Near the Atlantic is salt marsh and inland is freshwater. Watch for oyster bars at low tide.

Directions to Launch: Spruce Creek Park (I-95 Exit 256, east one mile); Strickland Bay bridge (US 1, 5 miles north of New Smyrna Beach); Cracker Creek.

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Rainbow River

This is a gem of Florida. Located in Dunnellon, about 20 miles southwest of Ocala, the river is fed by multiple springs, including one of the largest in terms of discharge at the headwaters of Rainbow Springs.

It’s only 5.7 miles long, making it a perfect kayak or small-boat adventure.

Rainbow Springs State Park is a great place to start for a first visit. We recommend a weekday visit to avoid the business of the weekends.

There’s even a waterfall if you want to do a little hiking.

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Silver Springs

If you’ve ever driven through Ocala NationalForest on SR 40 and blinked, you may have passed Silver Springs, State Park.

It's worth a stop, grab lunch and take a glass-bottom boat tour.

Or, walk through Cracker Village, a replica 19th-century settlement of what it would’ve been like for pioneers of that era.

There’s also hiking, camping, and paddling.

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Shipyard Island

The trail is marked, but bringing a GPS and a good map is recommended.

Watch the tides; at low tide, it will be necessary to pull your kayak or canoe in some areas. Unlike the creeks and spring runs we prefer, this is salt water and the paddling trail is lined with mangrove hammocks, plus cacti. Exiting the trail, much more paddling is available on Mosquito Lagoon (watch for motor boats) and winding through the islands of the national seashore.

Wildlife includes alligators, turtles, and crabs; schools of mullet swam by (and almost jumped in) our kayaks. Good for birdwatching, we saw hawks, eagles, and osprey as well as ibis and other water birds.

Directions to Launch: The boat ramp is on the right just inside the north entrance to Canaveral National Seashore along A1A in New Smyrna Beach. The entrance to the paddling trail is directly across Mosquito Lagoon from the ramp (look for the two PVC pipes, then follow the channel markers).

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