By: Mike Hammond
I’m admittedly very biased on where the best place to paddle is in Florida. But if you’re traveling outside of Lee County and want to incorporate paddling into your trip, there is a fantastic resource out there for you to use.
The Florida Paddling Trail Association (FPTA) connects paddlers to the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, resources, events, educational information, planning tools and other paddlers throughout Florida.
The FPTA website (floridapaddlingtrails.com) can be used in several ways. It is not just for the brave souls who paddle the entire trail at once or in sections; It is also for anyone who paddles in Florida. If you’re headed anywhere in the Sunshine State, you can go to the FPTA site and find information on launches, day paddles, camping areas, emergency contacts, environmental considerations- everything you need including the contact information for the section’s regional trail director.
The website also has links to several books and trip reports from those who have paddled the Florida Saltwater Navigational Trail (CT). Thirty-eight paddlers have completed the entire trail. We have been lucky enough to have a couple who have provided presentations for the Calusa Blueway Speaker Series. The 30th paddler to complete the CT, John Shinner, will be our speaker for the January 9th, 2024, program.
If you are one of the adventurous paddlers trying to complete the CT, you will not be alone. At least you don’t have to be. The FPTA has a network of volunteers called “Trail Angels.” Trails Angles support CT paddlers in a variety of ways. Rides to the grocery store, company paddling, monitoring progress through difficult sections or weather. One of our local Trail Angels even paddled a pizza out to a primitive campground for some appreciative paddlers.
Whether you are looking for a fun day paddle or a life changing paddling adventure, checkout the Florida Paddling Trail Association to get your started.
Please go to https://www.floridapaddlingtrails.com/ for more information.