Episode 104 - Big Bend Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail

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. It was also selected by American Canoe Association (ACA) and ‘Paddler’ magazine as one of the twelve best paddling destinations nationally in their inaugural list in 2005.

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 through 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 fascinating 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 abilities 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.

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