Combining the rugged terrain and beauty in one package, it’s no wonder the Suwannee section of the Florida Trail is very popular with backpackers, especially in early spring when fragrant wild azaleas are in bloom.
Experience challenging terrain as you climb in and out of valleys dug deep by floodwaters and tributaries feeding the Suwannee River.
Discover first-hand some of the geological wonders of the region: deep sinkholes, hundreds of springs, expanses of rapids and several large waterfalls.
The views are fabulous all along the river, and when water levels are low, the white sand beaches invite you to spend a night.
CAMPING AND ACCOMMODATION
The Suwannee section is one of the few places on the Florida Trail where you can stay in cabins and B&Bs along the way. There is a B&B just along the trail in White Springs.
Booths are available at Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park in White Springs, Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak, and Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Suwannee Springs.
All three locations have also developed campgrounds with beautiful amenities and easy access to the Florida Trail. Gibson Park is another beautiful riverside campground north of Holton Creek.
This section also has many designated campsites, all with benches and a ring of fire. Some, like Coopers Bluff in Twin Rivers State Forest, also offer some shelter from the weather.
Hikers also have access to the Holton Creek River Camp. It is one of five camps built for paddlers using the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.
It has hot showers, flush toilets, filtered shelters and a friendly Camp host. And it’s free. Call in advance for a reservation: 1-800-868-9914
Random camping is also allowed along the Suwannee section on Water Management District Land. Many hikers camp on the beaches along the river. Avoid camping at or near the trailhead.
Dogs are welcome along this section of the trail. While you wouldn’t expect it, there are alligators in the Suwannee River and its side canals, so keep your dog away from the water’s edge.
While the sounds of songbirds and woodpeckers resonate through the forest, we didn’t see many wild animals on our hikes along the Suwannee. However, bears were seen at Holton Creek. Protect your food by bagging bears.
Parallel to a river, one would think that it would be easy to filter the water. However, most of the time, the trail sits on top of cliffs that are too steep or too sandy to reach river level for filtering purposes.
It is better to filter the tributaries that flow into the Suwannee River than the river itself.
Once you reach the Twin Rivers State Forest, pay attention to the water in the river. There are good clear sources at Suwannacoochee and Black Tract.
Upstream along the Withlacoochee River, the town of Valdosta is known for dumping sewage into the river, especially during the hiking season.
Wear a bright orange shirt or vest during hunting seasons at Holton Creek and Twin Rivers State Forest. Check the FWC website for the dates of the hunting season.
Walking in the middle of White Springs, it’s easy to restock at Dollar General or one of the many convenience stores. There is also a post office just along the trail.
It is also less than a mile from convenience stores in Suwannee Springs and Ellaville.
PARKING & SHUTTLE
A fee applies 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 hiking trip, inside the park gates at the beginning of the parking areas. Check at the ranger station for fees.
A shuttle service is available from American Canoe Adventures In White Springs.
You can also book a shuttle through Suwannee canoe outpost at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.
Using shuttle services, it’s easy to place a car at one end of your hike and be transported to a remote point to get back there.
It is also possible to walk north along the river to White Springs, then rent a canoe and take a paddle trip south to Dowling Park for a hike / paddle loop.
The trail has several short sections of walk that take you through riverfront subdivisions. It also passes behind a handful of back yards west of White Springs.
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, continue and / or call law enforcement.
We have not yet written all the segments of the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River for our website, although details on all of them can be found in our guide and app.
Each of the segments below is described from a day hiker’s perspective, noting landmarks, water, and campsites along the way. Not all of them are aligned in A S > N perspective, but this is the order in which they are heading north.
These trails connect to the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River, but are not part of the mileage traveled.