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Planning Your Trip

One of the purposes of this guide is to show Jacksonville citizens just how easy it is to get out on the water, and just how many kayak and canoe launches are accessible in areas you might never have guessed. But just because we are blessed with great access to the water does not mean you don’t have to plan for your trip.

The first stage in planning a trip should always be safety. Please read our paddling safety section before going out on any trip. Once you have properly planned for safety, you can move on to the fun part, choosing where to go! We have highlighted just a few possible paddling routes in our trails section. This section provides the starting point, ending point, and travel route for many great sections of the guide. We have also provided GPS coordinates for key spots along the water in case you go exploring on your own.

No matter which route you choose though, make sure to inform someone who will not be paddling with you that day of your plans.

Paddling Safety

While for the most part this area provides for safe paddling for all skill levels, everyone should make sure to pay attention to hazards and always use appropriate gear. This guide provides warnings for areas with high boat traffic and areas that are exposed during low tides. The waterways near bridges often have high traffic and may have strong currents. Paddling in a group is always safest!

St. Johns River tide information is available here. Tide information can help you plan your route as well as know when you can safely enter and leave the water. In addition to checking the tides, paddlers should check the weather, but also prepare for Florida’s sudden thunderstorms. Do not underestimate the danger of lightning. Current weather information may be found here.

As a general note while on the St. Johns River, paddling close and parallel to the banks is safest, as many power boats travel in the middle of the river, often at high speeds.

What you will need to bring with you:

  • Personal floatation device
  • Whistle
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hard-soled footwear

Suggested items to bring with you:

  • Insect repellent
  • Hat
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Flashlight

While you are planning for your own safety, take a minute to plan for the environment’s safety as well.  Paddlers as a group are very environmentally conscious. Bring drinks and snacks in reusable containers. Dispose of all garbage appropriately, especially fishing line and plastic bags which can entrap wildlife. Do not approach wildlife. Leave what you find (unless it is garbage).

Pollution Warnings:

We encourage everyone to explore Jacksonville’s waterways. As always, however, paddlers should exercise all necessary precautions.  In addition to using proper safety equipment, pollution levels and algal outbreaks in the water should be monitored and considered before embarking on a paddling excursion. Some useful sources of information on area water quality include local news, Department of Environmental Protection and Environmental Protection Agency websites, the Duval County Health Department, and the Environmental Quality Division of the City of Jacksonville.

Safety Links: