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Withlacoochee River (North) Report
(Withlacoochee River North)


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Report By:  majesticorp    Date: 2/14/2015 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 21 photos     Map & Directions: View


Valentines Weekend 2015. Trip from CR 150 to Suwanee River State park. 23 miles. Overnight camping trip.

My Report:

Starting out:
My Husband and I went on our first overnight camping trip on the Withlacoochee River North 2/14/2015- 2/15/2015.

We launched from CR 150 at around 10:00 am. We wanted to start at CR 145, however there is bridge construction going on, so we did not see a place that would be easily accessible to the river. We chose to go 5 miles down river and launch at the Twin Rivers State park launch site, CR 150. This was an easy place to get into.
We did not use a shuttle service. My husband dropped the gear and I off, and then he drove to Suwannee River State Park. A friend gave him a ride back to the launch site. The Suwannee River State Park has a parking lot for folks who will be taking out there. It was $5.00 a night parking. He said that they asked lots of questions regarding how many people would be on the trip, how long we were going to stay and for our emergency contact information.

Weather and Water:
It was sunny and clear and a brisk 34 degrees when we started out. It warmed up to about 60 during the day. The water level was high. According to http://www.mysuwanneeriver.org/realtime/river-30-day.php?id=02319000 , the water level at Pinetta was 57 feet.
We did not see any of the much talked about shoals. They were all underwater. There were several places, particularly between Pinetta and Madison Blue Springs where the water was swirling and a little rough, but nothing I could really even classify as a rapid. It was more (rapidish, or rapid-like), but to call them a “rapid” would be giving them a lot of credit. However, the swirling parts could push you into a strainer very quick, so they still had to be navigated around carefully.
Because the water was high, there were not many sandbars to stop at. We learned pretty quickly that if we felt like we needed to stop, we better stop at the first sandbar we saw, because another one might not be accessible for a few more miles down the river. (Just like rest areas on 1-75).

The water itself is dark, tannic water, but not nearly as dark as the Suwannee.

The Trip:
The trip was very nice. As mentioned earlier, it was chilly, but we bundled up in layers of water wicking material, so we were not uncomfortable at all. There are numerous small springs on the Withlacoochee. The first one was on the left going downstream. It was called Hardee Springs. There was a staircase going down to the spring and some sort of building up on the shore. It was a small spring, but crystal clear. There were 3 foot gar that swam under the boat. There were also lots of fish jumping near there.

We stopped at a sandbar for lunch. There were lots of animal tracks; ours were the only human foot prints that we saw.

The second spring was located probably 5 miles down river on the right. It was more of a swampy area. It was really neat to navigate in through the trees in crystal clear water.
We were on the look out for a tree with a yellow blaze signifying that there was a campsite. We did not see one, but probably a quarter mile downstream we noticed a picnic table up on a bluff. There was a narrow area cleared and a steep trail that went up to the picnic table. We guessed that this was the first campsite for this area in the Twin Rivers State Forest. I got out and checked it out. The campsite appeared to be on a cul de sac at the end of a trail. It looked like there was a trail that went down to the swamp spring area. There may be sandbars to park your boat when the water is lower, however at this level; it would be a tough portage to get your gear up the hill and a challenge to get packed up in the morning because there was no good place to pull the boat out of the water.

A couple miles downstream from this area we made it to Madison Blue Springs State Park. It was cold, and I think the park was closed. We did not see a single person there while we were stopped. We were able to paddle right up in the spring, and actually floated over the submerged staircase (which was pretty surreal). We stopped here, used the restroom (which were left unlocked), filled our water bottles and then headed on.

The next stop was our campsite. We arrived here aroung 3:30 in the afternoon. We did see the yellow blaze on the tree marking this campsite. There was also a really nice sandbar that we pulled up on. We were able to pull our boats completely out of the water. The campsite is up on a bluff that over looks the river. There was a picnic table, and a cleared out sandy area for the tent. It looked like this campsite had been used by paddlers, and maybe people on horseback (there was horse dung on the ground) and the remnants of a pretty recent fire.

The cell phone service was very good here. The only downside is that this site is across the river to what we guessed was a mine of some sort. There were trucks honking and machinery going all night. It didn’t bother us at all, but I could see where it could get annoying.

It was a really nice experience to sit on the sandbar down by the river and look up at the stars. It was a clear night, so we could see lots of them. The light pollution from the mine across the river did not interfere too much.

It was cold that night, it got down in the upper 30’s, but we had a fire (lots of good dead, dry pine to make a fire. We also used a little buddy heater and warm sleeping bags to cut the chill.

The next morning we started out around 9:45 am. The trip was rather uneventful. There were fewer areas with swirling water. This part of the river is much more populated. There are lots of houses and camping shacks near the river. However, we did not see very many people and only a couple of fisherman.
We saw one little spring that was marked as private property. There were a few houses around it and a fancy bridge crossed over it.

There was also a small, unmarked spring not far from here. It was a little bit small to get two boats in at a time.

We did have a little excitement right after the Madison Boat Ramp. Some folks were doing target practice in the woods (we heard them for a few miles), but when we got close a bullet whizzed past my husbands head and hit the water about 3 feet from his boat. Needless to say we started screaming and a few words came out of my mouth that weren’t very nice (as well as a one fingered salute). Thankfully they stopped shooting and we got past that area pretty quickly.

There were no sandbars in this part of the river, and very few places that were easy to stop at. We a place where it was relatively easy to get out and stopped for lunch probably about 2 miles from the Suwannee River. We parked the boats, and while I was unpacking our lunches my husband told me, “don’t freak out, but there is a large copperhead or rattlesnake about 20 feet from you sunning itself on the shore”. So we went on a bluff above the snake, ate our lunch and got out of there. Thankfully the snake seemed to be sleepy, and he ignored us the entire time. We are pretty sure it was a copperhead.

We finished the trip by paddling the ¼ mile upstream to the Suwannee River State Park. This is very good exercise. The Suwannee river had a stronger current and the water is strong coffee in comparison with the Withlacoochee’s iced tea color.
We finished the trip around 2:00 in the afternoon.

Overall it was a great trip. I would like to try it when the water level it a little bit lower. As mentioned before, this was our very first overnight trip in the kayaks, so it was a good trip for a beginner.

The only thing that we passed by was Pott Springs. I think it is pretty close to Madison Blue Springs and we were so busy looking for the campsite, that I think we passed right by it.

We laminated the maps from http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/designated_paddle/WithN_guide.pdf
We found this easier and more helpful than using our GPS (which we are still learning to use).

Get Map & Directions for this trip


Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 23
Fees/Costs $: $5.00 a night park


Photos from Withlacoochee River North:    (Click image to view full size)

Starting Out No Comm
Starting Out

Starting out at SR 150 Pinetta

On the River No Comm
On the River

Starting out at SR 150 Pinetta

Madison Blue Spring No Comm
Madison Blue Spring

Madison Blue Springs. Totally Flooded

Sandbar No Comm
Sandbar

Lunch on Sandbar. A couple of miles downriver from Hardee Springs

Near SR 6 No Comm
Near SR 6

Friendly Copperhead sunning himself. (Friendly because he stayed put while we ate lunch)

The Tent No Comm
The Tent

Set up at the campsite just past Madison Blue Springs

SR 150 No Comm
SR 150

About to start out SR 150 Pinetta

Campsite No Comm
Campsite

View of the river from the campsite. Just past Madison Blue Springs.

Picnic Table No Comm
Picnic Table

Picnic table at the campsite. Just past Madison Blue Springs

Campsite No Comm
Campsite

View of the surrounding area at the campsite.

Campsite No Comm
Campsite

Yellow blaze on tree marking the campsite.

Campsite. No Comm
Campsite.

Another view up river from the campsite

Boat in a tree No Comm
Boat in a tree

A boat stuck in a tree, between Madison Blue Springs and SR 6

Swampy Springs No Comm
Swampy Springs

Swampy little spring. Very pretty. Between SR 150 and Madison Blue Springs.

Crystal Clear Spring No Comm
Crystal Clear Spring

Pretty, Clear Water in spring.

Suwannee River SP No Comm
Suwannee River SP

End of the trip! The landing at Suwanee River State Park

Withlacoochee River No Comm
Withlacoochee River

There were lots of neat roots.

Madison Blue Springs No Comm
Madison Blue Springs

Deserted Madison Blue Springs

Withlacoochee No Comm
Withlacoochee

A view of the river

SR 150 No Comm
SR 150

A goofy Selfie. A little excited to Kayak!

A Spring on river No Comm
A Spring on river

One of the springs that we saw on the Withlacoochee River

 


Post Date: 4/6/2015

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