Dixie County is defined by the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Steinhatchee River to the north and the historical Suwannee River to the south. It is located in Natural North Florida, along the Hidden Coast of Florida's Big Bend region.
This rural area is filled with undeveloped rivers, tributaries, and coastlines. The lack of development and the wealth of it natural resources makes Dixie a great area for paddling.
The area is home to many county parks, state preserves, and the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (LSNWR). Some of the special and common wildlife of the area are manatee, bald eagles, otters, red-shouldered hawks, and kingfishers, and an array of coastal birds. The area offers great fishing. The freshwater fishing ranges from the small red belly to the well-known Suwannee bass. The salt water flats are full of red drum, trout, flounder, and sheepshead. Special to the Suwannee is the very large sturgeon fish which can be seen jumping during the warm month of the year. They are protected and therefore cannot be caught, but they can put on quite a show.
THE LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER - The Suwannee rises in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and runs 246 miles southwest through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. Dixie is the home of the Lower Suwannee River, which is largely protected by the LSNWR. This section is characterized by heavily wooded banks which flatten to flourishing tidal swamp and marsh in the estuary. The Friends of the LSNWR have mapped out several paddling trails in the refuge, near the end of the Suwannee River and along the Gulf. These trails can be seen at Friends of the Refuges Paddling Project
Yellow Jacket Landing
THE STEINHATCHEE RIVER - This river rises in the Mallory Swamp just south of Mayo and flows for 28 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The peaceful waterway, fringed with tall cypress and other swamp hardwood, cuts apart the small coastal communities of Steinhatchee and Jena which face each other across the river estuary. One of the unique parts of this trail is the STEINHATCHEE FALLS. It is a limestone shoal that runs across the river about six miles from the month of the river, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Paddlers should be at the Falls at high tide. Upriver there are many rocky areas and small rapids, some of which are impassable at low tide.
The final 50 miles of the SUWANNEE RIVER WILDERNESS TRAIL (SRWT) run along the Dixie Shoreline. The small community of Suwannee has the honor of being the ending point for both the SRWT and the BIG BEND SALTWATER PADDLING TRAIL. Dixie is also the host to Section 6 of the FLORIDA CIRCUMNAVIGATIONAL SALTWATER PADDLING TRAIL.
Dixie County is now developing THE DIXIE PADDLING TRAIL. It will start on the Suwannee River, following the lower part of the SRWT. The Dixie Paddling Trail will then turn north, utilizing its county parks along the Bend Big Coastline. The 3rd segment will turn up the Steinhatchee River. It will be mapped out soon and can be seen at www.dixietrails.com.
For more information on places to stay and areas to explore, and who to contact for help, go to www.VisitDixie.com
. Another good source of information on paddling in Dixie and the surrounding areas is www.hiddencoastlines.com
. Much of the above information came from this publication.
Notable Places to Visit
Paddling the Lower Suwannee Mational Wildlife Refuge
The 53,000 acre Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1979 to protect one of the largest undeveloped river-delta estuarine systems in the United States. The constant influx of nutrients from the river combined with numerous off-shore islands and tidal creeks create excellent wildlife habitat. Swallow-tailed kites, bald eagles, West Indian manatees, Gulf sturgeon, whitetailed deer, and eastern wild turkeys are but a few of the wildlife species that inhabit the Refuge. Natural salt marshes, tidal flats, bottomland hardwood swamps, and pine forests provide habitat for thousands of creatures - both large and small.
The Refuge offers recreational and educational activities for everyone. Bird and wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, paddling, hunting, and interpretive walks are all available. Several boardwalks and observation towers offer unique views of Refuge wildlife and habitat.
Suwannee Guides & Outfitters - 352-542-8331 - Captain Kay McCallister - Captain Russ McCallister - Captain Keith Brown
Suwannee Guides & Outfitters
Places to Stay:
Places to Eat:
- Salt Creek Restaurant, Hwy 349, Suwannee 352.542.7072. Seafood and Sunsets!
- Sarah's Suwannee Café, Hwy 349, Suwannee 352.542.0500 Home-style cooking.
- Suwannee Marina and Restaurant, 49 SE 903 Ave, Suwannee 352.542.9159 Open 6 AM , 7 days.
- Suwannee Community Center kayak launch (unpaved), Hwy 349, Suwannee. Easy access to salt marsh and Gulf. Parking. Picnic pavilion.
- County boat launch at Anderson Landing River Camp, Hwy 349, Suwannee (paved). Best access to fresh and brackish creeks and marked trails in the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge.
- Munden Creek boat launch (unpaved), end of Munden Creek road (turn right at first intersection). Access to Munden Creek and Gopher River.
- Dixie Mainline Trail has several launch points for brackish tidal creeks and road access to Shired Island Beach and boat launch.
Note: Some rental houses may have private launch facilities. All launch points are tidally affected. Check wind and weather before launching.
Contacts for Blueway Community Events:
News and Special Reports
Hidden Coast Paddling Festival October 2 - 5, 2014
For details and event schedule Hidden Coast Paddling Festival