Combining rugged terrain and beauty in one package, it’s no wonder that the Suwannee section of the Florida Trail is well-loved by backpackers, especially in early spring when fragrant wild azaleas are in bloom. Experience challenging terrain as you clamber in and out of valleys cut deeply by floodwaters and tributaries feeding the Suwannee River.
See some of the region’s geological wonders firsthand – deep sinkholes, hundreds of springs, stretches of rapids, and several serious-sized waterfalls. The views are fabulous all along the river, and when water levels are low, white sand beaches invite a night’s stay.
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FLOODING can make hiking along the Suwannee River and its tributaries dangerous. Check real-time river levels provided by Suwannee River Water Management District. Do not enter flowing waters. Use roadwalks to skirt flooded areas.
The Suwannee section is one of the few places on the Florida Trail that you can stay in cabins and B&Bs along the entire route. There are cabins at Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park in White Springs as well as the White Springs B&B. At Suwannee Springs, there is an AirBnB right by the spring, plus cabins across the highway at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Finally, there are cabins at Suwannee River State Park, and a lovely riverfront inn, the Village Lodge, at Dowling Park. These can be used as base camps for day hiking the entire Suwannee section.
Fees apply if you leave a car at Suwannee River State Park and Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. These are the safest places to leave a car during a backpacking trip, inside the park gates at the trailhead parking areas. Check at the ranger station for fees.
Shuttle services are available from American Canoe Adventures in White Springs and from Suwannee Canoe Outpost at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, making it easy to place a car at one end of your hike and be shuttled to a far point to hike back to it. It’s also possible to hike north along the river to White Springs, then rent a canoe and do a paddling trip south to Dowling Park to make a hike/paddle loop.
March is a fabulous time to hike along the Suwannee because of the colorful wildflowers, especially the very fragrant Florida azalea.
The Big Oak Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in North Florida. Much of the hiking parallels the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, which meet here at a confluence.
On the Disappearing Creek Loop off the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River, watch Camp Branch burble through rapids and cascade into a giant sinkhole
With Florida’s only Class III whitewater and the beauty of a Florida waterfall along a stretch of trail that is rugged but extremely scenic, this 2.8 mile section of the Florida Trail is a real winner
7.4 miles. Rugged climbs through abandoned river channels and along the highest elevations along the Suwannee River make this hike a serious roller-coaster through river bluff forests and sandy beaches.
Florida Trail Videos (Suwannee)
Despite pouring rain and thunderstorms, nearly 240 people showed up to tackle the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River for the annual I-Did-A-Hike, and it made for a memorable experience.