River Camping Paddle Trips
One of the best ways to really experience a river is by camping along the banks on a overnight paddle trip. For those who enjoy the challenge, the fun and relaxation of an overnight trip, we will work with you to put together an enjoyable nature experience.
River camping on the Little Manatee comes in 2 major categories. There are full primitive paddle camping trips where you take all your gear with you and camp along side the river in the wilderness and then there are trips in which you paddle the river and camp at semi-primitive sites either at the Canoe Outpost or in the State Park. We offer paddle camping trips on the upper river east of US 301 or on the lower river west of US 301.
A typical overnight trip on the upper Little Manatee begins with a bus ride upriver 10 miles to our Trip 4 put in. Most folks paddle 2-4 hours on day 1 covering between 5-7 miles. On day 2 you can choose to leisurely fish and paddle the remains of the 10 miles back to the Canoe Outpost and stop there or you can continue on through the State Park for about 2 hours more and cover the additional 5 miles down to our day run take out for a 15 mile 2 day run. Camp sites on the upper sections are generally small openings suitable for 1-4 tents but no large groups.
A lower river paddle camping trip begins at the Canoe Outpost and follows our Trip 1 day run and the loop extension sections for a 3 hour paddle to the campsite. On day 2 you have the option of a short paddle back to our day run pick up point or continuing on through the lower, more open river sections to one of several pick up points west of I-75. Your day 2 paddle time on the lower sections can be as short as 1.5 hours or longer depending on your choice of pick up point. Some folks also add a side trip into Desperation Creek to increase the paddle time on day 2. The campsite on the lower river is more open could accommodate larger groups.
You may also choose to combine sections of the river to get the length and type of trip you want. Just ask and we will work with you. Any trip you choose is sure to be fun and an adventure. Be sure to check out the specific trip descriptions on the Little Manatee River Trips page. Remember that the upper sections of the river are more challenging and natural and you may encounter some obstructions. Please call for a conditions report before you plan your trip.
For those who want the feel of a paddle camping trip but the flexibility of having land accessability and some facilities, consider semi-primitive river camping. The Canoe Outpost offers a group camp area that could serve as the overnight spot in your trip. ( Please see our Camping & Lodging page for camp descriptions ) Perhaps you would do our Trip 3 or Trip 4 runs on day 1, camp at the Outpost and do our Trip 1 the next day. Some groups have also chosen to start at the Outpost for Trip 1 and paddle down to the semi-primitive camp on the river in the State Park. This camp offers near-riverside space for up to 20 campers in a wilderness setting while having bath facilities and water just a 1/4 mile hike away. Both options allow for land accessability for resupply or having non-paddlers join in the camping.
For paddle camping, we provide just the same gear as we do for our day trips so it is essential that you bring all the camping gear you need. Our outpost store offers super size Zip-loc dry bags and regular vinyl dry bags for sale. Be sure to bring trash bags and bring back all waste. You will need a shovel or other tool for latrine use. Extreme caution must be used to prevent forest fires and no live trees are to be cut. Responsibility and respect for the wild is the key to successful, sustainable camping trips on the river.
Rates: There is no charge for primitive river camping. The only fees are for the rental of the boat of your choice. Most commonly you will use a 17’ aluminum Grumman canoe to get most capacity. The rental rates are the same for each day or part of a day as the Trip 1 day runs on our prices page. Transportation is included to the put in and even from the day run take out if you choose to do the extended trip. Trips on the lower river with a take out west of I-75 will incur an extra transportation charge of $25.00 per trip load.