The Lower Suwannee encompasses the river, tidal creeks and the salt marshes. Our Canoe and Kayak Trail brochure gives you three loop trails of varying lengths from which to choose on the north side of the Suwannee. A convenient put-in is located on highway 349 at the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail hub (the old Angler's Resort) at the town of Suwannee. Four miles up the Dixie Mainline Wildlife Drive there are 2 tidal creeks, Sanders and Shired that offer great discovery. Shired Creek flows out to Shired Island, an Indian midden island nearly 7,000 years old. Sanders Creek is gorgeous both upstream and down, but check tide charts before venturing out.
McCormick Creek off the Lower Suwannee Nature Drive offers a nice spot to begin a quiet paddle. From the ramp, the creek to your left winds through forested wetlands. To the right you will find marshes that eventually open into the Gulf of Mexico. Beware of the many creek branches that may be confusing upon your return.
Shell Mound located at the end of county road 326 near Cedar Key provides shallow, tidal salt marshes and great birding opportunities. An unimproved ramp allows for canoes, kayaks, and small boats to be launched with ample parking near-by. Dennis Creek and the Gulf are easily accessed from this are. A longer option would be a paddle from Shell Mound to Cedar Key - fairly easy and quite picturesque. Be sure to take along an adequate amount of water.
A list of paddling locations outside the refuge boundaries can be obtained from the Ranger, as well.
The Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges have prepared guides for several paddling trails on the refuge. They are intended to provide necessary navigational information and also the biological information needed to connect well with the refuge habitats you are paddling through. Friends holds the copyright on the content of the panels. The panels may be reproduced for personal use at no cost, but cannot be sold or in other ways used for profit.
How to download: click the title of the guide to be taken to its location on Google Documents. To save, click "File" in the top-left corner underneath the title of the document, then select "Download."
- Paddling Guide Overview: The Paddle Connection to the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges
- Paddle #1: Fishbone Creek
- Paddle #2: Shired Island
- Paddle #3: Sanders Creek
- Paddle #4: Cat Island
- Paddle #5: Lock Creek
- Paddle #6: Lock Shingle Creek
- Paddle #7: Gopher River
- Paddle #8: Sandfly Creek