Two dozen landings on two tea-colored blackwater rivers in two states, plus Reed Bingham State Park on the Little River and Langdale Park on the Withlacoochee River, two of only six second magnitude springs in Georgia (McIntyre Spring and Arnold Springs), and in Florida first-magnitude Madison Blue Spring State Park and many other springs all the way to the Suwannee River.
The Withlacoochee River is one of the few undammed left in this country, flowing in its unruly blackwater splendor for 115 miles past cypress, river birch, oaks, and pines through Georgia and Florida with shoals and springs, including Madison Blue Spring State Park, to its confluence with the Suwannee River. The Little River is also an undammed tea-colored blackwater river below Reed Bingham State Park, which itself is the venue for the annual WWALS BIG Little River Paddle Race. The Little joins the Withlacoochee just outside Valdosta in Lowndes County, the largest population center in the entire Suwannee River Basin.
Table of Contents:
Wild and Scenic,
Many Years of Harmony,
Lakes, Ponds, and Swamps,
Classification of Trail,
Overnight Trip Option,
Map and Spreadsheet,
Sponsors and Partners,
Nearest Population Center,
The highest access point on the 115-mile Withlacoochee River is at mile 98 for GA 37. Add to that mile 57.5 for Kinard Bridge Road on the 105-mile Little River, and that’s 155 miles of boatable rivers, although it’s unlkely anybody would paddle both rivers on one trip. However, 57.5 miles down the Little River, followed by 63.2 miles from its confluence onwards down the Withlacoochee River to the Suwannee River adds up to 120.7 miles of a doable downstream trip.
WWALS’ Withlacoochee River is known in Florida as the Withlacoochee River North, and is not to be confused with Florida’s other Withlacoochee River (South), which flows directly into the Gulf of Mexico. Similarly, WWALS’ Little River is the Little River of Southern Georgia or the Little River (Withlacoochee), and is not to be confused with any other Little River in Georgia or Alabama.
Wild and Scenic
See Withlacoochee River Paddling Guide, by Suzanne Welander, in Brown’s Guide to Georgia, including an interactive map. It lists the Withlacoochee in Georgia as 65 miles paddling from GA 37 to GA 31.
A list of Georgia’s truly beautiful scenic rivers includes the Withlacoochee. Originating in Tift and Berrien counties, its dark waters flow south along the Cook County line into Lowndes County, where it is joined by its largest tributary, (ironically) the Little River. Intimate, shaded in its northern reaches) mysterious in its beauty – the Withlacoochee is one of the few Coastal Plain streams in which limestone ledges form small shoals. A second distinctive feature of the river is the occasional white sandbar on the insides of bends, which are perfect for swimming or camping.
—Suzanne Welander and Bob Sehlinger, Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia (Menasha Ridge Press), page 381.
Many Years of Harmony
Back in the 1970s there was this Canoe Guide to the Withlacoochee River, covering the 56 miles from the confluence of the Little River with the Withlacoochee River at Troupville west of Valdosta to the Suwannee River at Ellaville and Florida’s Suwannee River State Park.
Lakes, Ponds, and Swamps
There are some lakes, ponds, and swamps that are boatable all year.
Withlacoochee River watershed:
- 2,360 square miles, 2,090 in Georgia and 270 in Florida
- Withlacoochee River without Little River: 1,206 square miles in Georgia and 270 in Florida
- Little River watershed: 860 square miles, all in Georgia
Many creeks, lakes, ponds, and swamps and the main rivers:
Little River: 105 mile river and 59.2 miles on the Water Trail, all in Georgia.
Withlacoochee River: 115 mile river and 97.7 miles on the Water Trail: 70 miles in Georgia and 27.7 miles in Florida.
Withlacoochee (North) River Paddling Trail Trip Planning, by FL DEP. It lists the Withlacoochee in Florida as 28 miles paddling from SR 145 to Suwannee River State Park.
Overview: This river gently curves through Twin Rivers State Forest past hardwood forests, crystal – clear springs, and sandbars along the bends. Primitive camping is allowed along the way. There are some small shoals, but portaging is generally not necessary. The Withlacoochee contributes a significant amount of water to the Suwannee River and joins it at Suwannee River State Park. The trail ends at the boat ramp in the state park, about a quarter-mile upstream on the Suwannee River.
Little River: Four boat ramps and five other access points.
Withlacoochee River: Nine boat ramps and at least five other access points.
Little River: Class 1+, mostly flatwater blackwater river with no industrial development and no large point sources of pollution, with one dam at Reed Bingham State Park.
Withlacoochee River: Class 1+, with mostly flatwater and occasional shoals, on an undammed blackwater river with no industrial development and no large point sources of pollution.
Yes. No reservation, permit or fee required in Georgia for rough camping on islands.
Camping on SRWMD lands in Florida is free with a permit, obtainable by calling SRWMD at 386.362.1001.
Follow this link to the current WRWT map, with links to indexes by access point, categories, and all points, as well as to the source spreadsheet.
Also, these exist:
- Florida’s Suwannee River Water Management District map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail includes the Florida part of the Withlacoochee River.
- Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection map of Withlacoochee River North Paddling Trail also includes the Florida part of the Withlacoochee River, with slightly different names (Madison Boat Ramp) for some of the access points.
- Interactive Map, Withlacoochee River by Brown’s Guide, which includes only access points in Georgia, omitting some of the farthest upstream Withlacoochee River access points (Franklinville Road, GA 122, and GA 37) and including quite a few Little River access points.
- Canoeing & Kayaking Georgia By Suzanne Welander, Bob Sehlinger, Don Otey has a map of the Withlacoochee River.
- There’s a very old map in the 1970s Canoe Guide to the Withlacoochee River Trail.
- Valdosta – Lowndes Tourism Authority: $500
- 2016-11-07 Brooks County, GA: resolution
- 2018-01-16 Adel, GA: resolution
- 2018-02-01 Hahira, GA: resolution
- 2018-02-20 Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority letter of support
- 2018-04-05 Valdosta City Council: resolution
- 2019-06: Lowndes County Public Works made and planted road signs for Troupville, Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, in time for the 300 paddlers of Paddle Georgia 2019.
- 2019-10-31: Numerous letters from elected bodies and others in Georgia and Florida were received in support of the WWALS grant application to the first year of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) for a Troupville River Camp downstream from Troupville Boat Ramp near the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, at the center of the WLRWT. That grant was not approved, but the project continues, and numerous local bodies are close to raising all the necessary matching funds for another grant application.
- 2021-04-02: A generous grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR) enabled WWALS to design, print, and plant at-water signs for the WLRWT, and to purchase from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) road signs. The same grant enabled WWALS to publish 10,000 z-fold brochures which we are distributing for free through welcome centers and rest stops on I-75 and I-95 in Georgia and Florida, as well as through county and city governments, parks, outings, and festivals. Your donations to WWALS help defray the cash match for that grant.
- 2021-06-30: The Mayor of Valdosta prominently mentioned the WLRWT and the proposed Troupville River Camp in a letter supporting redesignation of the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers from Fishing to Recreational.
- 2021-08-11: The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) did redesignate parts of the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers.
2021-08-31: The Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA) updated Master Plan includes as goals:
- 6.1 Continue to work with the county and WWALS to construct a network of launches, ramps, camp sites, and river camps, similar to the amenities along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (SRWT) in north Florida (where possible).
- 6.2 Incorporate WWALS recommendations for improvements (for water quality, health and safety, and river access) into to a phased, 12-year River Access Improvement Plan, consistent with the SPLOST funding cycles.
- 2021-11-08: The local stakeholder group One Valdosta-Lowndes includes as as their number one BIG thing “River Camp Project”.
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, WWALS Watershed Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org
In Georgia, Valdosta (Lowndes County), Adel (Cook County), Nashville (Berrien County), and Tifton (Tift County) are located on or near the Withlacoochee River, and Moultrie (Colquitt County) and Quitman (Brooks County) are on creeks that feed into the Rivers.
In Florida, Madison (Madison County) and Jennings and Jasper (Hamilton County) are near the Withlacoochee River.