Dixie County is defined by the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Steinhatchee River to the north and the historical Suwannee River to the south. It is located in Natural North Florida, along the Hidden Coast of Florida's Big Bend region.
This rural area is filled with undeveloped rivers, tributaries, and coastlines. The lack of development and the wealth of it natural resources makes Dixie a great area for paddling.
The area is home to many county parks, state preserves, and the LOWER SUWANNEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (LSNWR). Some of the special and common wildlife of the area are manatee, bald eagles, otters, red-shouldered hawks, and kingfishers, and an array of coastal birds. The area offers great fishing. The freshwater fishing ranges from the small red belly to the well-known Suwannee bass. The salt water flats are full of red drum, trout, flounder, and sheepshead. Special to the Suwannee is the very large sturgeon fish which can be seen jumping during the warm months of the year. They are protected and therefore cannot be caught, but they can put on quite a show.
THE LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER - The Suwannee rises in the Okefenokee Swamp in
Georgia and runs 246 miles southwest through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. Dixie is the home of the Lower Suwannee River, which is largely protected by the LSNWR. This section is characterized by heavily wooded banks which flatten to flourishing tidal swamp and marsh in the estuary. The Friends of the LSNWR have mapped out several paddling trails in the refuge, near the end of the Suwannee River and along the Gulf. An overview of these trails can be seen HERE. Now see trails 1-4 - trails 5-8 - trails 9-12.
The final 50 miles of the SUWANNEE RIVER WILDERNESS TRAIL (SRWT) run along the Dixie Shoreline. The small community of Suwannee has the honor of being the ending point for both the SRWT and the BIG BEND SALTWATER PADDLING TRAIL. Dixie is also the host to Section 6 of the FLORIDA CIRCUMNAVIGATIONAL SALTWATER PADDLING TRAIL.
THE STEINHATCHEE RIVER - This river rises in the Mallory Swamp just south of Mayo and flows for 28 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The peaceful waterway, fringed with tall cypress and other swamp hardwood, cuts apart the small coastal communities of Steinhatchee and Jena which face each other across the river estuary. One of the unique parts of this trail is the STEINHATCHEE FALLS. It is a limestone shoal that runs across the river about six miles from the month of the river, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Paddlers should be at the Falls at high tide. Upriver there are many rocky areas and small rapids, some of which are impassable at low tide.
Dixie County is now developing THE DIXIE PADDLING TRAIL. It will start on the Suwannee River, following the lower part of the SRWT. The Dixie Paddling Trail will then turn north, utilizing its county parks along the Bend Big Coastline. The 3rd segment will turn up the Steinhatchee River. It will be mapped out soon and can be seen at www.DixieTrails.org.
For more information on places to stay and areas to explore, and who to contact for help, look around on thei website. Another good source of information on paddling in Dixie and the surrounding areas is www.hiddencoastlines.com. Much of the above information came from this publication.
A brochure and map of DIXIE TRAILS, Blueways and Greenways. It includes paddling and boating, fishing and diving, motor, biking,birding and hiking trails. This is 12X18" and suitable for medium resolution printing. Click image above for the full size brochure.
A map useful for Kayaking, Fishing and Diving