Explore Your Watershed

Paddle the Upper River – St. Marys Shoals Park to St. Marys Cove

Paddle Information

Duration
  • 3-6 hours (depends on water level). At 4 ft, it took us 4 hours.
Launch and Takeout
  • Launch from St. Marys Shoals Park (MAP)
  • Takeout at St. Marys Cove (MAP)
Water Level
  • at least 4 ft
  • Check out water levels at Macclenny (below)
Recommended skill level
  • Intermediate due to the length of trip, large number of strainers, remote location, and potential speed of water flow.
Park Entrances and Fees
  • There are two entrances to Shoals Park. If the main entrance is closed, go to Shoals Road about one mile east. 
  • River access is about 10 minutes from when you enter the park.
  • $5 entry fee
  • There are no amenities at the river’s edge at the launch site or at the takeout.
What to bring
  • See Know before you go! section below
  • FULL (reusable) water bottle. I suggest 2.
  • Lunch and snacks. PACK IN, PACK OUT.

Be Prepared!

  • Build in time to get shuttle – 30 minutes. Lock your car and do not leave anything of value inside. For $3, you can park your car inside the fence of St. Marys Fish Camp at the takeout. Ask for Brian!
  • Shoals Park has sandy roads. Please use 4WD! As you get closer to the river, there are some spots of loosely packed sand.
  • Wear a lifejacket! St. Marys River is beautiful but can be dangerous. Review paddling safety and techniques beforehand.
  • Lots of down debris in the river. Become familiar with STRAINERS and learn to recognize them. 
  • Eddies and little whirlpools form around the bends. Practice caution and be mindful.
  • Most of the land along this stretch is privately owned. If you have to stop, be respectful, leave no trace, and do not stay long. PACK IN, PACK OUT
  • Learn about the best times of year to go paddling. Deer hunting season starts mid-October (Zone C), DEER FLY season at the beginning of summer, and spring can bring lots of rain.
  • Check water levels and our Preparedness Tips below before any paddling adventure on the St. Marys River. 
  • Be safe and HAVE FUN!

Know before you go!