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[ft-l] Aucilla River

Title: Mabel

I have been housebound a lot this week working on the hiking guide, but finally Saturday Fred and got out with eight fellow FTA members for a beautiful canoe trip down the Aucilla river which is located about 1.5 hours west of Live Oak.

The Aucilia is one of the most popular canoeing rivers in Florida's Big Bend area. It begins just south of Boston, Georgia, and flows into the Gulf of Mexico south of the confluence of the St. Marks. It pops up and down with such irregularity, however, that in many places it is not a river at all but a series of lakes, marshes, and/or sinkholes. just north of U.S. 27, the Aucilla makes up into a clearly defined river and proceeds in an orderly fashion for about twenty miles until it goes underground again. It rises some five miles to the south and is joined by the waters of the Wacissa, flowing through a man-made canal on to the Gulf.

The Aucilla, limestone ringed and bedded with dark, clear tannin water and beautiful vegetation, varies from high banks with upland hardwoods to more tropical-looking areas of cypress, palms, and palmettos. The reflections of the trees in the dark water is a treat at any season of the year. There are two relics of man-made dams on the upper section that may provide an easy whitewater experience for the novice paddler. Since the dams were built of native limestone that has now washed aside, there are no dangerous hydraulics or undercurrents. On the lower section, there are a series of rocky shoals, and at the point where the Tallahassee hills drop off the karst, a stretch of real whitewater appears. Dropping eight to ten feet over 30 yards of boulder strewn river, the Big Rapid is about the best Florida has to offer the whitewater buff. A few more miles through increasingly beautiful jungle-like terrain, and the Aucilla goes underground. No dramatics just a quiet pool with a few logs floating around.

None of us turned over the canoes on the shoals, but it was close in a few instances. We did portage around one place that looked as if it might damage the canoes if we went through it. When we got to the end of our 7 mile canoe trip, we hiked on the Florida Trail for one mile to where the River disappears. It reappears about five miles south of this spot. It was another glorious day in paradise- -weather cooperated 100%.


Carol Ann