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Way down upon the Ichetucknee River
By Tom Adkinson

(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of travel stories spotlighting activities logical for Americans as they venture out in a time of coronavirus.)

itchetucknee river
Ichetucknee State Park; image by Florida State Parks

FORT WHITE, Florida – Although just six miles long, the Ichetucknee (ITCH-e-TUCK-nee) River has an oversized reputation because it is one of the prettiest float streams in America. People use tubes, paddleboards, kayaks and canoes to float on crystal-clear water, look for wildlife (turtles, white-tailed deer, turkeys, raccoons, perhaps a manatee and more) and admire towering cypress trees and longleaf pines. Activity can get hectic in summer, but you can achieve more social distancing from fall through the spring when the sensitive northern section of the river is closed off to floaters.

sunbathing turtles
Sunbathing turtles; image by Florida State Parks

The Ichetucknee Headspring, where thousands of gallons of water a minute flow up from the limestone aquifer to form the river, earned National Natural Landmark status from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

This natural lazy river (the flow is about 3 miles per hour) is the heart of Ichetucknee Springs State Park, which also has three nature trails that range from a half-mile to two miles long. The Ichetucknee flows into the Santa Fe River, which then flows into the Suwanee River. Songwriter Stephen Foster, no doubt, found “Suwanee” easier to work with than “Ichetucknee.”

Trip Planning Resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published September 18, 2020

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