Picture is from St. Marys Shoals Park in Baker County, FL
Paddle the Upper River – St. Marys Shoals Park to St. Marys Cove
- 3-6 hours (depends on water level). At 4 ft, it took us 4 hours.
Launch and Takeout
- 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.
- 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!
- Check the weather before you leave.
When the weather is cooler, wear quick drying clothes and take layers. Avoid wearing cotton. Staying dry and warm makes a trip a lot more fun when it is cold outside.
- Check the water levels within the river before you head out. Higher water typically means the river will be muddy and flows might make paddling difficult. Low water can create more obstacles to maneuver within the river.
- Let someone know where you are going and when you will likely be home.
Be prepared to stay out longer than you expect. Unexpected water conditions or taking a more leisurely float might make your trip longer than you thought. Average paddling rate is roughly 3 miles per hour.
- Check the gauge of the section you plan to paddle. Not advised to paddle at flood stage. DANGER swift water!
What to take