A couple of weeks ago (and 42 years later), Eric and I did just that. But given that it was mid-January, we rode the river in a kayak instead of an inner tube. It was one of the most beautiful kayak trips we’ve done, and other than passing by a lone canoeist, we were the only people on the river (which most definitely is not the case in summertime).
A Spring-Fed River
Eight springs converge to create the gorgeous crystal clear Ichetucknee River. The name was bestowed by native Indians, and means “pond of the beaver.” Indeed, we passed by a beaver lodge, spotted a river otter slinking along the banks, and quietly kayaked past great egrets, great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and turtles.
If you want to see wildlife and have the river to yourself, winter is the time to visit the Ichetucknee. Tubing in the summer is a fun way to go, but the “wildlife” is more likely to be floating in tubes alongside you.
Where We Stayed
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a day use park only, so we camped at nearby O’Leno State Park, just 15 miles down the road. Situated on the banks of the picturesque Santa Fe River, the park encompasses a classic north-central Florida landscape of cypress swamps, hardwood hammocks, and sinkholes.
O’Leno was created in the 1930s and developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); many of the stone and wood buildings built by the CCC are still in use, as is the suspension bridge that spans the river. We love parks where we can hike and bike within the park, and O’Leno provides plenty of options, with thirteen miles of beautiful hiking and biking trails.
Six miles from the campground is High Springs, a small town with surprising amenities, including The Great Outdoors, an excellent restaurant where we had lunch one day and liked it so much we returned for dinner and live music the next evening; the Secret Garden Bakery offering made-from-scratch goodies in a lovely setting; and a terrific cooperative gallery of local artists.
Honestly, I never knew Florida had so many gems! I love that in High Springs there is a post pointing to Portland! And as I write this we’ve got about 7 inches of snow on the ground! People are skiing down streets and sledding down hills ~ its beautiful, but pretty crazy too… love you, dia
Most people don’t know the “Old Florida” that we know and love. I was hoping you might notice the Portland sign in High Springs. ;-) Wow, so happy we’re not in snow — it’s beautiful, but I’m not in the mood for it. xo
I love canoeing and nothing better than not having to share….love your own personal water way. Great photos. We just may have to put FL on our travel destination :-)
Since we seem to enjoy many of the same things, I suspect you would love this part of Florida as well. The kayaking is fabulous!
You had me at the title. We stayed at O’Leno and did the same thing. What a great river. Glad to see they have finished the work on the “swinging” bridge. Last time we were there you couldn’t go across. Gorgeous pictures. SO glad you got to go again and have the river to yourself. It just doesn’t get better than that.
We had such a good time we’re planning to go back and kayak the Ichetucknee again in a couple of weeks!
Laurel, since Terry and I love to kayak, this looks fabulous. I had never heard of this river so will have to do some research and add it to the never-ending list of places to explore. Thanks for this lovely post and stunning photos. You brought this place to life for us. :)
LuAnn, you’ll find peace on this river as long as you kayak before the tubing season opens on Memorial Day. I’d also suggest kayaking during the week. It was spectacular having the river to ourselves. I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures in the Everglades!
As always I felt “there” with you…I am… in spirit anyway…love the herons but the little yellow on the dragon fly ..wow…and did I mention the art shots of duckweed! Going to base my silk scarf design today on that photo, thanks! See…you’re here too….like Tibetan Amala says “you (westerners) are the devas and dakinis of the world”…when asked why…she said…we can travel anywhere and eat anything in the world we want! That makes us some kinda angels in her book…travel on Angels!
So happy the “duckweed art” will become one of your gorgeous creations. Oh yes, our travels most definitely feel spiritual in nature. xo
Okay, that’s it… We must find a canoe….
Oh, most definitely! ;-)
Good morning–I found your blog via Nina at WheelingIt–you take amazing photographs–beautiful!! I went back and read your Yellowstone posts–we live most of the time near Yellowstone–you did visit during a particularly nasty October! Two years ago we spent the winter in delightful Cedar Key–it remains one of my husband’s all time favorite spots. (and mine too!)
Yes, it was a wintery visit to Yellowstone, but we still had fun! We’re heading back down to Cedar Key for a week on Saturday to do all the things we didn’t get to do the first time around. I’m looking forward to following your adventures on your blog!
Thanks you guys, I love getting to be a vicarious traveler with you two.
Looking forward to getting on the road! Retro Daze is getting fitted for new seat covers as we speak.
Can’t WAIT until we can make some trips together!!