Aardvark's Florida Kayak Co., Inc.
It’s the Saltwater Version of the Appalachian Trail.

The Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail has been divided into 26 segments. Each segment is
unique, ranging from the remote Big Bend Coast and Everglades/Florida Bay wilderness, to the more urbanized
coastlines of Pinellas County and Fort Lauderdale. Once complete, the trail will likely be utilized by thousands of
Florida residents and visitors alike who will paddle the trail for a few hours, days, weeks or months. Some hardy
souls will want to paddle the entire trail, or complete the trail in segments over several years, similar to how hikers
often tackle the Appalachian Trail.

The trail serves to highlight and educate paddlers about Florida’s rich history and fragile coastal environment,
including 20 national parks, seashores, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries, 37 Florida aquatic preserves and
47 Florida state parks, along with numerous local parks and preserves. Sea kayaking is one of the country’s
fastest growing outdoor sports and requires less infrastructure and fossil fuels than most other coastal boating
activities. It is especially suited for Florida’s growing population of retirees and senior citizens because new
materials and manufacturing designs are helping to make kayaks lighter and easier to maneuver.   
Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company, Inc located in Crystal River, Florida provides guide and provisioning services for
the Citrus County Section of the Nature Coast Segment (#7) of the
Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling
Trail
. (FCSPT) We have been involved in this section of the trail since its inception and have over 20 years of
experience in the waters along the trail.  This section of the trail is also known as the Nature Coast Canoe and kayak
Trail.

This page will give you some basic information on the
Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.
(FCSPT) and some more specific information on paddling our section of the trail. It is a work in progress and it will also
serve as a portal for users and segment volunteers to exchange information once the Trail Association is fully
organized.  Aardvark's has been named as the Segment Coordinator (Citrus County) for Section Seven. It will be our
job to periodically visit the campsites along our assigned section and look for other problems and opportunities.
Florida Circumnavigation Saltwater Paddling Trail
Words of Wisdom

The Citrus County portion of the trail begins at the county line near Yankeetown at the mouth of the Withlacoochee River
and exits south of the Chassahowitzka River at the Hernando county line.  If we have one word of advice it's that portions
of this trail are not for novice paddlers with no navigation skills. The Citrus Section will have only one campsite marker
and four trail markers along its entire length. If you cannot read a map or use a GPS with some proficiency, hire a guide!
The area south of the Homosassa River is particularly remote and difficult to navigate.
File a float plan and stick to it.

Overall, we don't consider the Trail to be a beginner's paddle.  Parts of it may be if you have some navigation skills, but
the remote nature of the area, coupled with the complexity of winds and tides, requires skills that most beginners have
yet to acquire.


Here are some tips for paddling the Trail.


* Pay attention to weather and tides.  There are few safe havens and it is essentially a wilderness area.  Winter tides and
winds can dry out portions of the trail, especially south of the Homosassa River.

* The northernmost access to this portion will be the Gulf terminus of HWY 40 (aka
Follow that Dream Highway) in Levy
County.  Midway across the Withlacoochee River you'll hit Citrus County.  This stretch heading south has a significant
section of open water and you'll have to go out and around the Duke Energy Complex.  There is a pass through the jetty
for the intake and outflow canals.  Make sure to watch for "No Trespass" signs as this marks the security zone for the
complex.

* Next ingress / egress point is Ft. Island Trail at either the Beach Park or the Trail Park upriver .  The route to the Trail
Park is more sheltered, but you'll experience more powerboat traffic on weekends. If you drive around to the fishing pier
side of the park, you can use the old ramp (south side in canal) and avoid the trailer traffic at the main ramp.

* Mid Trail access is from the small park on John Brown Road off Ozello Trail.  Don't leave valuables in plain site in the
parking area.  This spot is somewhat remote.  Weekends draw lots of airboats.

* The next free access is on Mason Creek in old Homosassa.  You can also use the ramp at MacRae's, but you'll have to
share with bigger boats.  Mason Creek ramp can get busy, but it's mostly smaller boat traffic and is closer to the trail than
the big ramp.

* The next access point is a long way away, so use caution when paddling this southern leg.  It is very remote and access
is not good.  It is largely sawgrass marsh with muddy bottom and no place to land. The next place on or off, depending
on how you view it, is the ramp at the Chassahowitzka River Campground. It is almost 6 miles upriver from the spot where
the trail intersect the Chassahowitzka River. In the winter, with a falling tide and east wind, this can be a strenuous finish.

* If you are not committed to a particular direction, plan this trip based on wind direction.  You cannot avoid paddling
against the tide at least somewhere along the trail, but you can get the wind at your back at least most of the time.

* LEAVE NO TRACE -

  • Forgo the campfire in favor of a backpack stove.
  • Pack it in, pack it out.

For more LNT tips, go to
LNT.ORG
For camping information, please contact the
following managing agencies:

Spoil Islands
Office of Greenways and Trails
(352) 236-7143

Salt Creek Uncle Tom's Island
Crystal River Preserve State Park
(352) 563-0450

Chassahowitzka River Campground
Citrus County Parks and Recreation
(352) 382-2200
Citrus County Trail Maps
For the Long Distance Paddler

Thinking of a long distance journey on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail? Want to paddle the
entire trail? You can choose to tackle the trail in segments over several years or attempt a thru paddle all at once.
Either way, several factors and considerations should be part of your preparation and planning. Also, view the “Trip Tips
and Safety Information” and the “Recommended Gear and Safety Equipment” pages on this website for more
information. Some of this information may also be useful if you’re planning a shorter trip.

1: Experience. Long distance paddlers should be competent in all types of environments and conditions, capable of
dealing with strong winds and currents, and skilled at crossing open water stretches and boat channels. You should be
able to navigate at night and in poor visibility, capable of using navigational maps and charts and a GPS system, and
trained in advanced rescue techniques, wilderness first aid and primitive camping skills. The trail is marked by GPS
points on a map, not by signs. Cell phone coverage can be spotty in some sections.

2: Distances. In several stretches, one must paddle more than 20 miles to reach a legal campsite or motel. For this
reason, proper conditioning and equipment, and awareness of weather forecasts and wind conditions, are all
imperative. Stiff fines and possible arrest can result from illegally camping on private or public lands, especially military
lands and national wildlife refuges. Only emergency conditions such as injury or dangerous weather should dictate a
decision to stop short of an authorized overnight stop.

3: Weather. As with any long distance paddling journey, weather may not always be ideal. Storms and high winds can
prohibit travel for a day or more. Lightning can be especially dangerous. Occasional storm days should be factored into
your planning. A weather radio is an important addition to your equipment list along with the ability to read changing
weather conditions while in the field.

4. Timing. Generally, it is best to avoid the summer hurricane season for a long distance journey. Recommended
paddling months are late October through April. Bugs and hot steamy weather, along with lightning storms, will be less
prevalent as well. The entire trail is about 1,550 miles. Allowing for some days off, plan to take about four months if
planning to traverse the entire trail. Or, paddle the trail in segments over a longer period of time. Make your trip a
journey of discovery, not a race.

5: Budget. Be realistic about costs. While every effort has been made to provide low cost or free campsites for paddlers,
motel stays will occasionally be necessary. Waterfront motels, and some established campgrounds, can be expensive,
depending on the season and locale.

6: Supplies. Plan on having 4 to 7 days worth of supplies at any given time, depending on the segment. The longest
stretch without an opportunity to re-supply will be from Everglades City to Flamingo in segment 14. While we list or
describe a few supermarkets within easy walking distance of the trail, there are several more that may require a longer
walking distance. Inquire locally for directions. Some small towns or fish camps may only have a convenience store for
re-supply. In some places, care packages can be sent ahead to post offices in care of general delivery, but your arrival
time needs to coincide with post office hours.

Regarding water, you’ll be able to replenish water supplies almost daily in developed sections of the trail due to the
many parks along the route. However, in the Big Bend and Ten Thousand Islands in particular, fresh water re-supply
opportunities can be spaced several days apart. See segment guides for specifics. The general rule is to figure on one
gallon of water per person per day. Be mindful that animals such as raccoons on remote coastal islands may seek your
fresh water as much as your food. Hang food and water or store in secure hatches.

7: Trail Direction and Camping. Note that the trail is designed to go north to south along the Gulf Coast, and south to
north along the East Coast. This will help to prevent trail groups from overlapping at campsites. For many fragile coastal
camping sites, the size limit is 8 persons and 4 small tents. Campsites are often on a first-come, first-serve basis and
are not always limited to paddlers. Camping rules may differ according to the managing entity. Follow Leave No Trace
guidelines when primitive camping, http://www.lnt.org/main.html.

8: Advance planning. Many motels and state park and private campgrounds, especially in central and south Florida and
in the Keys during peak seasons (holidays and early spring), require advance reservations in order to be assured a
spot. Bring a cell phone and call ahead as soon as you have a good idea of your schedule. Regarding the Big Bend
portion of the trail managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Aucilla River to the town of
Suwannee, part of segment 6), free permits are required and trail managers must have a signed permit on record, so
allow at least two weeks lead time for this process (http://myfwc.com/recreation/big_bend/paddling_trail.asp). Peruse all
segment guides, maps and associated websites beforehand to aid in your planning, and be sure to leave a detailed
float plan with a reliable friend or relative before you begin your journey.

9: Trail changes. Hurricanes and other factors can alter trail conditions and overnight stays. Check the
Circumnavigational Trail website for trail updates. Maps and segment guides on the website will occasionally be revised,
so download or peruse the latest versions before beginning serious planning. Contact the trail manager if you
encounter situations that differ from what is currently on the website.
 
Click on each map for a more
detailed view of that segment.
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Printed Circumnavigational Trail Guide Now Available

The first printed trail guide for the 1,515-mile Florida Circum­navigational Saltwater Paddling Trail (text only) is now
available on Amazon.com. The 276-page guide includes in­formation on launches, campsites, campgrounds, motels,
points of interest, and the many public lands along the route. A trail data book, equipment list, trip tips and planning
instructions are also included. Color maps will still have to be downloaded from the Office of Greenways and Trails
(OGT) Web site:
www.FloridaGreenwaysAndTrails.com.

OGT put together this printed guide as a service to alleviate the need for paddlers to download and print 26 different
segment guides and other information from the OGT Web site. Because a print-on-demand Amazon company is be­ing
used, the trail guide can be updated periodically. The guide is not available at retail outlets, only on Amazon. All
proceeds from the sale of the guide are transferred directly to the non-profit Florida Paddling Trails Association to help
support their work as a volunteer stew­ard of the trail and other paddling trails statewide.