Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Wilderness Canoeing and Kayaking

Sunrise Over Chase Prairie- credit Blaine Eckberg
Sunrise Over Chase Prairie


A paddling trip through the Okefenokee is an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime. Alligators glide through tea-stained water. Herons and egrets wade through tall grasses and water lilies. Bears roam through hammocks and islands.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for these and other animals--over 400,000 acres of wet prairies, cypress forests, and pine uplands. Most of the refuge is designated a National Wilderness Area.

There are seven overnight shelters and two islands available in the swamp's interior (see map). Please read through this section carefully and understand all of the procedures and regulations. Remember: it is your responsibility to be prepared for a wilderness experience which may include temperature extremes, precipitation, high winds, challenging trails, and other factors.

Camping is permitted only at nine designated stops within the swamp. Consider the skill level of individuals in your party before choosing a trail! The swamp terrain is flat with only slight currents; there is no fast water and very little dry land. Your paddle will be used every inch of the way as you wind through cypress forests or cross open prairies exposed to the sun and wind. Paddling can be slow-going and strenuous on shallow and/or narrow trails. You may have to get out of your canoe and push across peat blowups or shallow water. Water levels in the Okefenokee Swamp sometimes become too low to paddle on certain trails; when this occurs reservation holders will be notified. Swamp conditions may dictate closing certain trails.

 

Two - three day wilderness canoe trails are now available. You can make reservations by calling (912) 496-3331 between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., Monday through Friday (excluding federal holidays). Reservations can be made two months in advance and can be made only by phone; no walk-in registrations will be accepted. Groups are limited to 20 people. Unfortunately, the remaining overnight platforms will remain closed until we can clear the aquatic plants and fallen trees.

Two - Three Day Trips Available:

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ENTER MILES FIRST NIGHT MILES SECOND NIGHT MILES EXIT
SCRA
6
COFFEE BAY
6
SCRA
SCRA
10
CANAL RUN
10
SCRA
SCRA
12
ROUNDTOP
12
SCRA
SCRA
7.5
MONKEY LAKE
7
SCRA
SCFSP
2
MIXONS HAMMOCK
2
SCFSP
SCFSP
8
FLOYDS ISLAND
8
   
SCFSP
KF
8
BLUFF LAKE
8
KF
SCRA
12
ROUNDTOP
6
COFFEE BAY
6
SCRA
SCRA
10
CANAL RUN
4
COFFEE BAY
6
SCRA
SCRA
10
CANAL RUN
13.5
MONKEY LAKE
7.5
SCRA
SCRA
7.5
MONKEY LAKE
9.5
COFFEE BAY
6
SCRA
SCRA
12
ROUNDTOP
6
CANAL RUN
10
SCRA
SCFSP
8
FLOYDS ISLAND
10
MIXONS HAMMOCK
2
SCFSP
KF
12
MAUL HAMMOCK
8
BIG WATER
11
SCFSP

 

Kayaking the Suwannee Canal; and the Round Top Shelter- credit Blaine Eckberg
Kayaking Along Okefenokee's Suwannee Canal- credit Blaine Eckberg Round Top Shelter- credit Blaine Eckberg


10 Easy Steps to Wilderness Canoeing in the Okefenokee Swamp

Step 1)- Read about how to make a reservation to obtain a wilderness canoe permit.

Step 2)- Decide on your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices of possible trips you would like to do after reviewing the trail descriptions and available trips listed above.  

Step 3)- Decide on two or three possible dates you would like to do your trip.

Step 4)- Read the rules and regulations for wilderness canoeing in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Step 5)- Call the canoe reservation line at 912-496-3331 from Monday-Friday 7am-10am excluding federal holidays to make your reservation.

Step 6)- Send in your payment and the required paperwork to the refuge.

Step 7)- Review the wilderness canoeing rules and regulations and the supplies list with everyone who will be canoeing with you, the trip leader.

Step 8)- Arrange for your supplies, shuttle providers, and rentals, if needed.

Step 9)- Arrive at your start point early in the morning, unload your gear and pack your boats.  Remember you must be on the water before 10am to ensure you have enough time to reach your shelter.

Step 10)- Enjoy your adventure in the Okefenokee Swamp!     

Special Note: Cell phone coverage is limited at best in the swamp. Do not expect that you will be able to call and get help at a moment's notice. Plan ahead and be prepared to help yourself in case of an emergency.


2013-2014 Licensed Guides
Approved guides to help you plan your trip.

Canoe Trail Map


Places to Stay Overnight
Before or after your trip within the Okefenokee Swamp, you might need a place to stay overnight in or around the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Other Paddling Options
If you find that you are not able to get a permit to paddle in the Okefenokee Swamp or would like to add a few more days to your trip, there are some additional options.  Consider paddling on one of the two rivers that flow out of the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River which flows to the Gulf of Mexico, and the St. Marys River which flows to the Atlantic Ocean.  Note: You can paddle from the swamp directly into the Suwannee River, but to paddle the St. Marys River you must start outside the swamp.

Here are some links to help you plan a trip on either of these two rivers.

St. Marys River
St. Johns River Management District- http://www.sjrwmd.com/stmarysriverguide/index.html
St. Johns River Management District- http://www.sjrwmd.com/publications/pdfs/fs_stmarys.pdf
Florida Department of Environmental Protection- http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/designated_paddle/stmarys_guide.pdf
Sherpa Guides- http://www.sherpaguides.com/georgia/coast/southern_coast/st_marys_river.html

Suwannee River
Sherpa Guides- http://www.sherpaguides.com/georgia/coast/southern_coast/suwannee_river.html
Florida State Parks- http://www.floridastateparks.org/wilderness/
Sea Kayak Florida- http://www.seakayakflorida.com/Trips/Suwannee/suwannee.pdf

 

Last updated: March 6, 2014