Ask any veteran salt marsh paddler what is the most important thing you need to know in order
to have a good time paddling in the estuary, and most will say “understanding the tides.”
In order to safely navigate Timucuan’s waterways paddlers must have some knowledge of
currents and tides. The safety of any paddler is greatly compromised if stranded by a falling tide.
Tide forecasts may be found in local newspapers or television weather reports, or on NOAA
weather radio. Know the times of the tide stages for the location of the particular blueway trail
to be paddled that day. Tides rise and fall every six hours to create an environment that is in
constant motion. Plan your trip to coincide with either the rising or falling tides as suggested in
the individual descriptions for each trail. Your enjoyment of the inshore waters will be greatly
The ICW flows along the west side (Amelia River) of Ft. Clinch and then continues across the
Nassau River and into Sawpit Creek and Sisters Creek and then crosses the St. Johns River and
joins Pablo Creek. Several of the trails listed in this Guide contain sections that include the
ICW. Paddlers must be aware of the motorized boats that use the ICW and at all times observe
the Coast Guard regulations governing the right of way procedures between motorized and non-
Before you go paddling make sure your boat and equipment are in good working order. Be sure
to carry basic safety equipment and know how to use it correctly. Always leave a float plan with
someone prior to your trip, even a day trip. Do not go anywhere in the Preserve without a map.
Know your capabilities and your limits and those of your paddling partners.
The most common injury to paddlers in Northeast Florida salt marshes comes from cuts caused
by stepping on oyster shells. Oysters are filter feeders and can be found growing singularly or in
large “beds” in the muddy banks of most salt marsh creeks. Alive or dead, oyster shells are
extremely sharp and injuries from them most always require a visit to an emergency room for
sutures and anti-bacterial treatment. Protect yourself by not touching them or walking barefoot
in soft mud where they are frequently buried.