Eric Anthony Rodriguez

Eric Anthony Rodriguez

This past Saturday, a friend and I decided to do a four-mile paddle on the upper Suwannee River. We decided to let the Canoe Outpost handle the logistics, so we could just enjoy the journey. We were glad it was warm enough to wear shorts and T-shirts. It is less fun to be on the river when you have on long pants and a jacket.

We were both amazed by how colorful the trees were on this stretch of the river. There was red, orange, yellow and brown mixed in with the usual green leaves. The river was rather low, exposing even more of the bright white limestone which provided a striking contrast to the various colors on the trees. The colors were reflected on the water on the stretches where there was no wind hitting the river. Some people drive to the mountains to see leaves the color that we enjoyed right here in Suwannee County in November.

We were not alone on this part of the river, and I am glad other people got to enjoy the beautiful colors we were enjoying. There were two other groups that we saw at different points of our trip. We were able to also have moments when it was just us and the river. At times the wind blew and sent the multi-colored leaves fluttering into the water all around us. We stopped at some of the sandy beach areas to take it all in and make the trip last as long as we could.

When we passed the Suwannee Springs bath house, the sound of the water rushing into the river was all you could hear. Since the river was low, you could see the bottom of the walls that were built so that people could swim in the healing waters of this spring. The sulfur smell was particularly strong on this day, and it makes you wonder if maybe there is something therapeutic about soaking in water with this much sulfur in it.

We could still hear the sound of rushing water as we got near the old U.S. 129 bridge. There were a few people enjoying the view from the bridge and a couple of them waved at us as we floated by. That bridge, which provides a great view of Suwannee Springs, was built in 1931 and was in use until 1971. I hope it gets maintained so that future generations can walk over the Suwannee River and enjoy the view.

Just a little bit further downriver we came to the new bridge that people now drive on when traveling to and from Suwannee County into Hamilton County. Several cars sped by in both directions. I wondered if any of the people in those cars knew the beauty they were missing down here on the river.

Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at

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