Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 S. Meridian St., MC 5B4, Tallahassee, FL 32309
The Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail area encompasses one
of the longest and wildest publicly-owned coastal wetlands in the United States, and displays a striking array of bird and marine life. Flocks of white pelicans often zoom past in winter and great egrets dot marshy expanses, white as snowflakes. Bald eagles and ospreys entertain with their aerial maneuvers, and in the often clear waters, one can spot crabs, fishes, sea turtles, manatees, cannonball jellyfish and small sharks and rays. The Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in 2005 by the US Department of the Interior. In 2005 it was also selected by American Canoe Association (ACA) as one of the twelve best paddling destinations in the nation. The Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail is open from September 1st through June 30th and offers four overnight trip options for advanced paddlers with open water experience and primitive camping skills. Primitive campsites have been established on the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area for use only by paddlers on the trail. Paddlers must possess an approved permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to use these sites. Permits are provided at no charge and required in order to conserve and protect this beautiful but fragile coastal wilderness, and to ensure adequate camping space for paddlers. The use of the Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail guide is strongly recommended. This unique guide may be purchased on-line or by calling (850) 488-5520. The 40-page guide contains detailed maps with GPS points, mileage figures and compass bearings to help you locate campsites and explore this f
ascinating coastline as well as interpretive information about the rich natural and cultural history of this region. It is printed on durable, water-resistant paper and spiral bound for easy use in a kayak. Day trips on the pristine rivers that empty into the Gulf are appropriate for paddlers with all levels of experience and offer excellent fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. The Big Bend area has remained largely unspoiled, undeveloped, and offers a taste of superb natural Florida adventure.
105 miles (with side trips), traverses about 85 miles of coastline.
Overview of paddling level required:
Experienced paddlers with Primitive camping skills.
Put in locations:
multiple, depending on trip selected.
Suggested maps and where available:
A 40-page guide
to the trail includes detailed maps and information on the rich natural and cultural history of this region can be ordered on-line or call 850-488-5520.
Best time to paddle for best weather conditions and campsite availability?
Nov, Dec. March-early May. The trail is open Sept. 1st through Jun. 30th.
Campsites Types (primitive, outhouse, running water, etc);
Primitive- fire rings only, no potable water; some limited lodging available.
Seven, one night in the town of Steinhatchee with camping available or multiple lodging options. The primitive campsites are exclusively for trail users and are spaced 10 to 14 miles apart.
Group size or number of campers accommodated if different groups:
Limited to 8 kayaks, four tents total.
850-488-5520. Permits are required and are available at no charge.
Trip suggestions, include paddling level required for each
Multiple day options on interior rivers suitable for beginners and intermediate paddlers.
Extended (if applicable):
Experienced paddlers only. Four different trip options exist: the whole trail is 9-days, 8-nights or may be broken down into three different segments of 3-days, 2-night trip options.
Closest city to fly into or drive from:
How can one get involved with using, maintaining or supporting the trail?
Visit the Big Bend website and purchase the paddling guide to develop trip plans. http://myfwc.com/recreation/big_bend/paddling_trail.asp