Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The INcredible Ichetucknee

Tuesday April 2, 2013
Site 28, O’Leno State Park
High Springs, Florida


Ichetucknee River is a definite MKP


Today was one of the highlights of our time here.  Kayaking the Ichetucknee was the second of the things I particularly wanted to do while at O’Leno State Park.  The first was see the River Sink and River Rise which we did.  On Thursday, we came over to Ichtucknee to see what was the tubing/kayaking situation.  If you didn’t see that introduction to this park, perhaps you’d like to.  If so, click here.

We drive over to the south side of the park and put in at the foot of the park’s portion of the river.  We’re going to paddle up stream to the Northern end, stop at the top and float back down.  I know this is going to be a fantastic paddle when I see a manatee in the grasses just beyond where we are putting in.  I had no idea there were manatee in the Ichetucknee.  Now this is even more My Kind of Place (An MKP).


kayaking the Ichtucknee 002



More amazing trees.

We aren’t very far up the river when we pass by one of the largest cypress we’ve ever seen.  We wonder if this one is even older than the one whose section we saw in the CCC museum.  700+ years??   The paddle upstream is not difficult and one of the most beautiful I have ever seen,


kayaking the Ichtucknee 008


kayaking the Ichtucknee 027

kayaking the Ichtucknee 046 


kayaking the Ichtucknee 031



Kudos to the park service.

As we pass by Dampiers landing we notice that the park service boat has a cage around the propeller just like we had talked about wishing was a law in Florida on all their rivers to protect the manatee. 

This dock is one the tubers can use to get back in the water and float down.  What a beautiful spot


kayaking the Ichtucknee 044


kayaking the Ichtucknee 037


propeller cage


More enormous trees.  It is just amazing to me.   So many.


kayaking the Ichtucknee 045


kayaking the Ichtucknee 046



On up the river we approach Mid Point landing, the half way point from top to bottom on the river.   Another lovely spot for  launching into the river.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 044


kayaking the Ichtucknee 049



David disappears from in front of me

Soon I see he has turned into a side stream.  I turn to follow him and discover he has located one of the other 7 springs that feed the Ichetucknee.  In fact there are 2 or 3 little springs here.  One flows  laughingly down the bank and the other two bubble up from the small circular spring head.   The current put out by these little boils is amazingly strong.


kayaking the Ichtucknee 051      


kayaking the Ichtucknee 054


kayaking the Ichtucknee 055


kayaking the Ichtucknee 056  

This paddle continues to be outstanding.


kayaking the Ichtucknee 061

kayaking the Ichtucknee 070


kayaking the Ichtucknee 072 


kayaking the Ichtucknee 074


kayaking the Ichtucknee 082


kayaking the Ichtucknee 092


kayaking the Ichtucknee 098



Very fine Lunch spot.

We reach the dock at the top of the park’s portion of the river where some kayakers and all tubers put in.  We really haven’t seen another soul all morning.  We decide to have lunch here.  We can sit on the steps and enjoy the quiet.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 113


David’s apple jumps out of his lunch box and he has to go hunting for it so it doesn’t fall in the river.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 114


  Just as we are taking this picture of our nice lunch spot, down the steps come the first people of the day.  But it is about 1:00 so I’m not surprised even though it is a Thursday.  This is still Spring Break month.   We’ve already had a wonderful quiet and awe inspiring trip up the river.

 kayaking the Ichtucknee 118


We begin our float back down.  This is just marvelous.  Look at the grasses in the water.  Where are the manatee??  They would love this.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 122


Today is definitely a turtle day.  They have been everywhere.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 146A




And then a great day becomes fantastic!!

And then as we come around the corner David spots him.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 155


It’s a manatee feeding.  A BIG manatee eating that grass that you see falling down in front of him.   I have to work very hard to stay to his side as the current (remember we are now floating down the river) keeps pushing me too near him and nearly over him.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 162


kayaking the Ichtucknee 167

He comes up out of the water to munch that grass.  See his front flipper?  He’s on his side.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 160


Up for a breath of air and I’m frantically trying not to float over top of him.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 176



As you can imagine I spend A LONG time just watching the manatee.  But the afternoon is wearing on and there is more river to enjoy.


kayaking the Ichtucknee 183


kayaking the Ichtucknee 193


kayaking the Ichtucknee 198



Spring breakers change the serenity.

My reverie is short lived unfortunately for as we approach Mid Way we can hear them hooping and hollering and jumping and splashing into the water.  The spring breakers are there making an incredible amount of noise and ignoring all the signs which say no jumping and no diving from the floating docks at Mid Point and Dampiers.

From there on the noise especially the screaming is pretty constant.  More SBers at Dampiers.  And tubers in the water from Dampiers to the take out.

I am sorry to have lost the magnificence of that bottom section of a marvelous float.  I wonder why those folks don’t just use a theme park for their sort of fun rather than such a beautiful natural environment.   But it’s been a superb day in any case.



I’ve kayaked the river, time to swim in the springs.

We close it out by driving up to the North entrance so I can swim in both of the large springs.

The main spring is a grand place to swim and I’m lucky enough to have it all to myself.  The reflections in the water make me feel like I am swimming in the trees.  David declines to swim and takes pictures instead.


Checking out Ichetucknee Springs SP 259


    kayaking the Ichtucknee 202A

  kayaking the Ichtucknee 204A


kayaking the Ichtucknee 215





I could float here forever but poor David is waiting and I want to at least spend a little time in Blue Hole before we leave

kayaking the Ichtucknee 216



kayaking the Ichtucknee 221


The edges of the springs are not deep so unless you want to walk into them, your only choice is to do a sort of racing dive.

kayaking the Ichtucknee 223   

 kayaking the Ichtucknee 231



Now that I’ve gotten to do what I most wanted, it’s David’s turn. 


He wants to go to the Springs Diner.  It’s a really authentic diner with a fabulous Wurlitzer juke box that plays CDs of the great music of the 50’s.

The building, its decor and the juke box are the highlights here.
Oh and they make a fabulous peanut butter milk shake but the food is disappointingly ordinary and a tad on the pricey side given the quality.  David is quite disappointed but does say he’d like to return and try their breakfast.   They make biscuits.


kayaking the Ichtucknee 239

kayaking the Ichtucknee 244


   This has been a very very full day with its ups and downs.  But my memories of this river will last a long long time and I would come back again any number of times to do it again.  Probably not during spring break month.   If you are a kayaker, and anywhere near Ichetucknee River State Park, don’t miss it.



kayaking the Ichtucknee 073


  1. Again an absolutely beautiful kayak trip. How wonderful to see a manatee up so close. I have been looking at kayaks again. I see one in my future..... Let's go!!


  2. Hi Sherry,
    The photos are wonderful ...... Looked like you were having a terrific time.... Wish I would have found you at Moffitt the other day ...
    my brother, Bill and I were there ... Should have made arrangements earlier with you..... Glad all went well for David ....that is fantastic ....
    Glad you are having such a lovely spring in the State Parks..... Take good care. SallyB

  3. Again... I'm out of adjectives... WOW ... what a gorgeous gorgeous trip... I have always been so afraid of swimming in rivers and lakes and such much less around floating wonderful manatess and grass? ewww man? all sorts of thises and thats in there... they could get yer toe!

    Remember the Creature from the Black Lagoon? haha I'm with David... I'll just meet you at the Diner...


  4. What a great paddle trip! Seeing the manatee up close and personal is over the top. Thanks for sharing your great day with us.

  5. What a beautiful kayak trip ... and a close encounter with a manatee ... an unexpected bonus, which you got to enjoy all by yourselves. We recently enjoyed a boat ride on a bayou or two ... were told no mosquitoes there because the water is on the move ... our kind of place.

  6. Another beautiful paddle! Glad you both got to do what you wanted that day :)

  7. Sorry the diner was a bit disappointing. They can't screw up breakfast, right? Looking forward to being able to use our Sea Eagle when we're down there.

  8. Looks like a gorgeous paddle - manatees and all! The swim looks like it was fantastic too :) Too bad the diner food was sub-par, but still neat. What a day!!

  9. Great day all around with the manatee a nice bonus. I like all the turtle shots.

  10. Just a breathtaking day! So much beauty, it's hard to take it all in. I can't get over how much water comes from those springs...absolutely amazing. :c)

  11. Looks like you are having FUN! Keep up the good work.

  12. I am pinning so darn many rivers and springs and campgrounds in Florida that it will take me forever to get to all of them. I can't wait to try, though. Ahh, Sherry, how wonderful things are for you right now. You deserve every little bit of it. I am so happy that you are taking photos and sharing with all of us.

  13. Looks like a great day. If we get a place on the water, a boat will probably follow. We will be sure to get one of those cages.

  14. THAT was a HUGE manatee!! Lots 'o turtles!!! fun seeing them all sunning themselves. Looked like a good, happy day!!

  15. Excellent day! It goes on my list :-).

  16. I really like how those massive trees reflect in the water. Would be like floating in the forest. Too bad about the noise makers.

  17. I love this post, thanks for sharing. I want to visit that area and paddle those trails and see the manatees and swim in the water. I'll put this one on my bucket list.


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!