Florida Paddling Trails Association

Florida's Paddling Community

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One of the Florida Paddling Trails Association's missions is to build Florida's paddling community. In this section, we report on things like:

1. Circumnavigational Trail (CT) Hall of Fame

This PowerPoint presentation is about those who have paddled the entire trail, those who have completed significant portions, and those special "trail angels" who assist paddlers along the way:ttp://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/paddling/PDF/CT%20Hall%20of%20Fame_May_2_2015.pdf. Dan Thompson coordinates the trail angel network: w4uh@bellsouth.net.

An annual CT paddlers reunion, made up of those who have completed the trail and those who support it, is held every spring at a state park. The 2017 Reunion will be held April 22-23 at Wekiwa Springs State Park near Orlando. Contact doug.alderson@dep.state.fl.us if you plan to attend. 

2. Who Is Who in Florida's Paddling Community   

Josh Collins is on a paddle board and started at South Padre Island, Texas on March 1, 2016 and plans on paddling 3500 miles to the Statue of Liberty. He is raising money and awareness for the Task Force Dagger Foundation that serves veterans and active service members.     



Steve Richter created an event called Florida Coastal Challenge to benefit Heroes on the Water. Having started October 20, 2015 at Big Lagoon, participants traveled the coast by kayaks, paddleboards, bikes and on foot. He finished at Key West on March 23 and hopes to continue along the east coast in the future.(https://www.facebook.com/FLcoastalchallenge, www.FLCoastalChallenge.com)

3. Paddlers Who Have Completed the Entire Circumnavigational Trail

The paddling season of 2008 and early 2009 marked the first attempts by people to paddle the entire circumnavigational trail (CT). Through their feedback and suggestions, these explorers helped state planners improve the trail and open the way for other paddlers. The FPTA network of volunteers often serves as a type of AAA on the water to assist long distance paddlers. Paddlers can complete the trail by segments over several years or in one paddling season, but all segments (including at least one direction in the Keys) must be paddled to be part of this section.  

Matt Keene of Clermont, Fl, began Sept 15, 2008 at Ft. Clinch and ended Jan 5, 2009 at Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Fl. He was the first paddler to complete the entire trail since it was established. He was accompanied part of the way by two other companions, Jodi Eller and Matt Gallagher. Several FPTA volunteers helped along the way. He and Jodi (now married) then backpacked the entire Florida Trail. Matt is currently the FPTA director for Region K (Space Coast).  


Mike Ruso and Dan Dick started on November 12, 2008, at Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola and finished on March 26 2009. They are the first west to east paddlers to finish the trail. They had a SPOT Messenger device that allowed people to track their movements on their website. Mike developed an informative and practical guide for those interested in paddling the circumnavigational trail: http://thrupaddlingflorida.jimdo.com/ .  

charles ingle

Charles Ingle of Tallahassee became the fourth person to complete the entire 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. When he reached Ft. Clinch State Park on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010, he had paddled a total of 63 days, averaging 24 miles per day.     

Jake Stachovak began a 5000 mile "Portage to Portage Paddling Project" around the eastern United States. He began his journey in early December 2009 on the Wisconsin River in Portage, WI, and paddled down the icy Mississippi to the Gulf. He paddled the circumnavigational trail in 2010 and began his successful return up the east coast and through the Great Lakes back to Wisconsin: http://www.portagetoportage.com/ .

Ian Brown at Fort Clinch, photo by Mark Adams

Ian Brown of Orlando began his journey on the entire trail in November of 2009 at Big Lagoon and, after many stops and starts, finished at Fort Clinch in late summer of 2010. Several FPTA members assisted him along the way. This photo of Ian was taken by Mark Adams.    

Warren Johnson


Warren Johnson of Hoover, Alabama, completed the CT in two parts, beginning in 2011 at Big Lagoon and arriving at the Georgia border in August of 2012 at age 62. He had already gained notoriety by paddling the Alabama Scenic River Trail both directions in one trip.   


Daniel Alvarez on first day


In March of 2013, Daniel Alvarez of Tallahassee completed a nine-month, 4,000-mile kayaking journey from upper Minnesota to Key West called Paddling the Heart of America. The trip included the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. He surprised everyone by continuing his journey up the east coast, finishing the CT and completing a loop through the Great Lakes that same year: http://predictablylost.com  


Gus Bianchi by Doug Alderson

Gus Bianchi began paddling the CT by segments in Apalachicola in December 2009. After 13 trips, ranging from 40 to 212 miles accompanied by a number of different paddling partners, Gus completed all the CT segments at age 66 on September 13, 2013 in Cedar Key.             



Carl W. Anderson from Fernandina Beach, Florida , completed the CT in sections beginning in early  2011 at the lower Aucilla launch, completed each section as time permitted, and arrived at Fort Clinch State Park on September 16th  2013 at age 67. Carl paddled most of the trail with Gus Bianchi and his wife Barbara.         



Jodi Eller by Matt Keene

Jodi Eller of St. Augustine became the first woman to complete the CT. She paddled most of the trail in 2008 with husband Matt Keene, the first CT thru paddler, and she completed the remaining segments in late 2013 with assistance from FPTA members. "The trail is amazing," she said. "It goes through so many different ecosystems. How the beaches change along the trail is just incredible. The trail made me a stronger paddler and it also redefined who I am in a way, bringing me back to the essence of being human. It's a powerful experience to go through." 

 Marc DeLuca and JimWindle, two retired police officers from Charlotte, North Carolina, began their journey at Big Lagoon State Park on November 2nd, 2013 and ended on March 1st, 2014. They were greeted at the end by thru paddlers Gus Bianchi, Carl Anderson and Ian Brown: http://KayakAroundFlorida.wordpress.com



Mary Mangiapi is the 14th person to have completed the trail and the first woman to complete the trail in one paddling season. She began her trek September 6, 2014 at Big Lagoon and finished December 10, 2014 at Fort Clinch. "I have been endurance paddling for 19 years in Florida and can say that this trip is an incredible challenge," she said. "Along the way, I have encountered 10' seas and numerous storms. I even cracked a Kevlar bulkhead while crossing Tampa Bay in big waves. I also have teeth marks in my kayak from a bull shark." She paddled an 18 foot Epic kayak.

Jeff Buncie is the 15th person to complete the CT, just one part of a crazy long-distance endeavor he calls the BNC Odysseia.  According to his Facebook site: “the BNC Odysseia is in fact a measure of one's endurance both body and mind. I have compelled a journey that will encompass the next 4 1/2 - 5 years of my existence. Over these years, the goal will be to travel over 16,000 miles by foot and 5,000 miles by kayak. Follow his adventures on  Facebook   


Sean Bower is CT thru paddler number 16, arriving at Fort Clinch on April 4, 2015. He paddled along the Gulf to Key West in 2014 with Richard Wood, took a break, and continued his journey in 2015. To learn more, log onto http://gokayakflorida.wordpress.com


Zane Blakey and Scotia Stein are the 17th and 18th persons to complete the trail. They embarked from Big Lagoon State Park on January 1st, 2015 and finished at Fort Clinch on April 18th that same year. They are the first people to paddle the entire trail in a tandem kayak. http://zaneandsco.wix.com/travels.


By paddling five miles to Key West on March 4, 2016 Richard Wood completed the trail in segments, making him the 19th person who has paddled the entire CT. Taking more than six years, he prides himself at being the slowest person to have completed the trail! 

Nicho Rivera and Jake Parker started paddling the entire trail in early January of 2016 at Big Lagoon and finished on April 4 at Fort Clinch, making them the 20th and 21st paddlers who have completed the trail. Recognizing the need to be part of something bigger, they supported the Surfrider Florida Chapter and its focus in on the education and preservation of coastal waterways and our complex interaction with the oceans.

Rich Brand

Rich Brand paddled the CT in 2016 as part of "Expedition Inspire," a roughly 7,500-mile great loop along the East Coast, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River. He spoke with school-aged students along the route, promoting a "nothing is impossible if you try" and "never miss a moment" message. 

Scott Warren finishes CT

Scott Warren completed the trail at Fort Clinch on February 19, 2017, having begun at Big Lagoon on October 30th, 2016. Several other CT veterans welcomed him, an estimated 22% of CT thru paddlers to date! "I'm honored to be part of such a great group of paddlers," he said. He is CT thru paddler #23.


4. People Attempting the CT

The Howard Family of four began paddling the trail January 3, 2017, at Big Lagoon. They plan to move slowly and finish in June. Their "Adventure for Change" will raise funds for a different charity or family in need during each of the 26 CT segments.



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