Little Manatee River
Originating in eastern Hillsborough and western
Polk counties the river travels 40 miles to empty into Tampa Bay at Bahia Beach. The upper 28 miles is mostly
wilderness, narrow and winding, making for great paddling with new scenery around each turn. Manatees are
sometimes seen in the lower parts of the river.
Canoe Outpost – Wimauma 813-634-2228
Manatee County Blueway
Inspired by local public servants and with
assistance from the National Park Service, Manatee County was ahead of the curve on blueways, establishing trails
in early 2002. Seventy-five miles of trails provide non strenuous paddling in normal conditions.
Upper Manatee River
The Upper Manatee River Canoe Trail is
officially designated as part of Florida's Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. This trail makes an
ideal half-day trip. Only a few miles from Bradenton, the Upper Manatee River is easily accessible and you can
paddle both ways so you don't have to arrange for pick-up. The river's gentle curves and slow-moving
current make the trip a peaceful and leisurely paddle. Wading birds search for food along banks lined with
subtropical vegetation, while osprey fly overhead.
Pete Kelley Guide Service 941-744-9596
Rays Canoe Hideaway 941-747-3909
A 4 to 5 mile peaceful paddle between Linger
Lodge and Jiggs Landing. This paddle requires you to bring your own canoe or kayak; you’ll also need a friend
who can park a car at the take-out at Jiggs Landing.
While canoes can be rented in Myakka River State
Park east of Sarasota on State Road 72, you cannot take these canoes out of the park. Thus, traveling the river
usually depends outfitters and guide services that lead regularly scheduled trips. The Myakka offers perhaps the
largest — and certainly the most prolific — alligators in the area. While it’s not a river for the gator-phobic,
paddling groups do safely make the trip each year and are treated to incredible natural sights.
Myakka Outpost 941-923-1120
Snook Haven 941-485-7221
Charlotte County Blueway
Fifty-three separate trails totaling 212 miles
are incorporated within the county’s Blueway system. This astonishing length is longer than a drive from Sarasota
to Ocala or Tampa to Lake City. Obviously, this many miles of trails will take any individual a long time to
explore, and given the different seasons and weather conditions, could in itself include many paddles of a
lifetime. A brochure has been issued by Charlotte County with a great deal of information, including launches,
trail names, trail lengths, difficulty rating, descriptions and rating of scenery. This Free brochure can be
obtained from Charlotte County Parks & Recreation, by Calling 941-625-7529.
Peace River - Wachula
Along its 67 miles, the pale, tea-colored river
is true to its name. It is a serene, slow-moving river with few signs of civilization. Whether you paddle for a
day or a week, the quiet isolation lets you leave big city worries behind. You'll see turtles, otters, deer
and turkey while an occasional black bear may wander to the river's edge. Wading birds and gators frequent
the water's edge. Sandy beaches and sloping banks provide excellent resting points.
Canoe Outpost – Arcadia 800-268-0083
Peace River Canoes – Arcadia 863-494-9693
Canoe Safari – Arcadia 863-494-7865
Estero River Canoe Trail takes the paddler on a
body of water stretching from Corkscrew Swamp in the east to Estero Bay on the west. The 7-mile canoe trail can
be done in one day. The trip follows a maze through a series of mangrove-lined islands and coves. The area can be
very confusing if you are not familiar with the trail.
Estero River Outfitters 239-992-4050
Stretching south from the vast 700 square mile
Lake Okeechobee, nourished by the rain soaked Kissimmee River Basin, the Everglades is a wide slow moving river
of marsh and sawgrass covering some 4,500 square miles, flowing quietly, peacefully, towards the mangrove
estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico.
Everglades Island Airboat Tours 800-611-8908
Everglades National Park Boat Tours 239-695-2591
Everglades Private Airboat Tours 888-665-8834
Speedy Johnson’s Fun Cruise 800-998-4448
Captain Doug's Airboat Tours 800-282-9194
Billie Swamp Safari 800-949-6101
Southwest Florida Eco-Tours 239-776-9050
Manatee Sightseeing Adventure 239-642-8818
Everglades Day Safari 800-472-3069