A Love Affair with the Great Outdoors

by: Doug Alderson, Outdoor & Nature Expert

I have a confession to make - I'm in love. The romance began in 1968 when I moved here with my family from the Chicago area. That's because I discovered that wild rivers, lakes, forests and coastline were within easy reach of Tallahassee. And while Florida's capital city may have grown larger in the past 43 years, those same outdoor places from my boyhood are still there to enjoy thanks to carefully protected public lands.

If you're a paddler, like I am, there are numerous places to launch a canoe or kayak. Summer favorites are springfed rivers such as the Wakulla, St. Marks and Wacissa. Those rivers are often cool, clear and they have sufficient water during low rainfall. Plus, they're great for people who are new to paddling.

Swamp-fed streams, such as the Aucilla, Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee, along with two water bodies closer to town-Lake Lafayette and the Bradford Chain of Lakes-are more rainfall dependent. They hold darker, tannin-tinted waters from swamp vegetation, and these often serve as shimmering mirrors for moss-draped cypress, gum and other trees. Each stream and lake has its own unique allure.

The Big Bend Coast is also in our backyard, and thanks to protected state lands and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, there are vast stretches reminiscent of when Native Americans paddled in dugout canoes on trade routes and for travel and fishing. Unspoiled islands are exciting destinations and countless mazes of wild tidal creeks can provide hours and days of exploration.

I'll cover a sampling of these scenic waterways in this blog, and when the weather cools, I hope to feature our many hiking and biking trails, too. Occasionally, you'll hear from a guest blogger because I certainly don't hold a monopoly on a love for the outdoors.

Since this is my first blog, I would be remiss if I didn't provide some websites and other rChild  kayaking at St. Marksesources that will help you plan your trips. For renting kayaks and canoes, and to sign up for guided trips, check out the comprehensive list of outfitters on the Outdoors section of the Visit Tallahassee website (www.visittallahassee.com). There are also canoes/kayaks available for rent at Maclay Gardens State Park, Ochlockonee River State Park, and St. George Island State Park.

The Florida Green Guides Association features several professional guides in our area who lead paddling and hiking trips: http://fgga.us/.

Clubs and associations are also great ways to join with groups in the great outdoors, and to attend stimulating lectures. Here are a few:

The Apalachee Canoe and Kayak Club: http://www.clubkayak.com/ackc/.

The Florida Trail Association, Apalachee Chapter: http://apalachee.floridatrail.org/.

The Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association: http://www.tallahasseemountainbike.com/.

Capital City Cyclists: http://www.cccyclists.org/.

I'll try to list more resources in future blogs. So, stay tuned, and feel free to e-mail me with any comments or questions: dougalderson@comcast.net.  


Doug Alderson. Outdoor & Nature Expert from Tallahassee, FL Author:

Doug Alderson

Outdoor & Nature Expert


Doug Alderson is the author of several books, including Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast (University Press of Florida 2005), The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth (Quest Books 2007), New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Okeechobee by Kayak (University Press of Florida, 2009), Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife (University Press of Florida, 2010), and his newest book, Wild Florida Waters: Exploring the Sunshine State by Kayak and Canoe (Earthways Press, 2011). Additionally, his articles and photographs have been featured in magazines such as Sea Kayaker, Coast and Kayak, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sierra, Mother Earth News and Shaman's Drum. He has won several state and national awards for his books and magazine features. Doug also works as the paddling trails coordinator for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

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