Paddling Your Way through the Okefenokee Swamp – The How to Guide

We get that a lot of paddlers have dreamt about kayaking though the wilderness that is Okefenokee Swamp. The problem is that if you have no idea what to expect and where to start your trip planning, you might find yourself stuck between…well mud and weeds.


Luckily we’ve put together a handy little guide that’ll give you some great pointers and show you what to avoid altogether in the swamp. Sit back, read up, and then get ready to start planning a kickass trip, paddling the Okefenokee Swamp!


Okefenokee Swamp – Fast Facts

Paddling Difficulty:                Easy to Moderate

Total Area:                              Over 4,000 Acres

Water Conditions:                  Flat and Still

Average Trip Duration:          3 days

Location:                                 Georgia



Before You Paddle

  • You’ll need to get in touch with the ranger office BEFORE you get to the swamp in order to get a camping permit and select a trail. Reservations are absolutely required and no walk-inns are permitted.
  • The ranger office only issues 7 permits at a time, so keep that in mind when doing your planning.
  • Campfires are strictly prohibited at overnight stops, which means that you’ll have to make use of a portable camping stove.
  • Approaching (or feeding) the alligators is not permitted.


The Trip at a Glance

You’ll have to launch before or at 10am since National Wildlife rules are very strict in this regard. Paddlers have to be at their overnight stops before sunset and need to stay put until sunrise.

The designated trail route that you got when you made your reservation has to be followed at ALL times. These are permit rules.

If you’ve reserved and east-to-west traverse, you’ll be traveling down the Orange Purple, Blue and Green trails, which effectively gives you two nights out on the swamp.

You can make a stop at Coffee Bay day-use shelter, which is located on one of the banks. Over here you’ll be able to enjoy a picnic and make use of the washrooms provided.

After this, you’ll enter Chase’s Prairie, and continuing along will take you to your first night’s stop.

Early the next morning, you can head out to Floyd’s Island, the spot where you’ll probably spend your second night out in the swamp.

The Green Trail leads to the middle fork of the Suwannee River. This leads to Stephen Foster, which is where you’ll find rental facilities and probably also encounter powerboats.

No matter what your pace is, or what you’re aiming to see out there, the most crucial part of your planning should be sticking to your designated reserved trail route at all times.


Your Camping Options

Overnight stops are located throughout the swamp. These stops are raised above the water and offer a 360 view of the area and also have ample space for tents to be pitched. All paddlers have to be at their overnight stops before sunset, so keep this in mind when determining the pace at which you’ll be paddling.


When Is The Best Time to Go?

The Okefenokee Swamp is pretty much a year-round destination for kayakers, although the peak season tends to fall between March and May each year, when the bugs aren’t everywhere to be seen. Do keep in mind that this time of year marks the increase of alligators, so take your pick. Reservations are restricted to a maximum of 2 nights per party during the peak season. That being said, once you’ve decided on when you’d like to go, it’s essential that you make a reservation. These can be done as far as 2 months in advance. A reservation will cost you $10 per person, per night, which is another thing you need to keep in mind.


Can I Park My Car for Free?

Unless you have a reservation for a trail, parking will cost you $5 per car.


The Case on Swimming

Swimming is strictly prohibited in the Okefenokee Swamp (due to obvious alligator-related reasons). On that note, you should also know that pets are not permitted to join you on your trip.


Wildlife in the Area

The Okefenokee Swamp is home to an abundance of animal species, aside from alligators. Keep your eyes peeled to spot the turtles, heron, snakes, otters, owls, frogs, cranes, and the occasional black bear.



Need More Info?

Look: We reckon that this guide is pretty conclusive, but as with all things done by man, it might lack details that you would have liked to get the scoop on. For that reason, we’ve included some cool links that you can use to add a little more info to your encyclopedia of knowledge of the Okefenokee Swamp.

  • This article shows you what a fellow paddler experienced during his first Okefenokee trip.
  • You can use this link to check out itineraries for camping and kayaking trips on the swamp.
  • Over here you’ll find 12 different trips and trails ranked according to their difficulty level.
  • This article has some useful paddling info for prospective paddlers on the area.
  • You can consult the reserve’s website for some additional information.


There you go folks. We’ve shared just about everything we know about paddling on the Okefenokee Swamp with you, and we honestly hope that this guide has been helpful. All you need to do now is to sit down, take our tips and pointers into consideration, and then plan one super swampy paddling adventure out on Okefenokee!