Large cypress buttress in Graham Creek, in Tate's Hell.

Paddling and Wildlife Watching Around the Apalachicola River

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

IGOR chip- human appreciation 150In the video above, we spent a day hitting Apalachicola River WEA Paddling Trail System and Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail sites. Luckily for me, I had Liz Sparks and Andy Wraithmell to show me the cool spots and tell me what animals I was looking at. With spring approaching, birds will be migrating back through the area, and the warmer weather makes for better paddling, greener trees with flowers blooming, and more appearances by other critters like alligators and turtles. In other words, it’s time to start planning your own adventures.

The Apalachicola River WEA Paddling Trail System map. The question marks are where the trail may or may not be there, depending on rainfall. The exclamation points signify that you may encounter larger watercraft, and to be cautious.

If you’re planning an adventure in the Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area, or any other Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission managed land, you can of course visit their website to download or request paper copies of a wealth of materials- maps, bird lists, and various informative guides.  The maps and guides have important safety information (what do you do if you see a bear?) as well as some suggested day trips.

Whether you’re as clueless as I am or an old pro like the people who guide our EcoAdventures, you should always plan your trip (especially if you’re heading into one of the question marks).  The map you saw in the video above is available as a pdf download at the link a couple of sentences up, or you can call 850-488-5520 to request a free hard copy.  It’s printed on waterproof paper and has a map of the general area as well as maps of individual trips you can take and a ton of information.

Greg Blakney shows WFSU producer Rob Diaz de Villegas his camping ready recipe for chicken and dumplings.

Staying with that theme of planning your adventures, our next EcoAdventure (Wednesday, February 29 at 7:30 PM on WFSU-TV) will look at preparing for kayak camping. What do you bring? How should you pack your kayak? What will you EAT? Georgia Ackerman and Rick Zelznak of the Wilderness Way have some answers for you. Also within the next couple of weeks, we’ll look at an app that aims to help you recognize what birds you’re looking at if you happen to be out there without an Andy Wraithmell or George Weymouth.

Music in the video by Philippe Mangold and Trafic de Blues.



About Rob Diaz de Villegas

Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for WFSU-TV, covering outdoors and ecology. Early in his television career, Rob focused on music production. After a couple of years of producing and editing Spanish and bilingual music video shows in San Antonio, Rob returned to Tallahassee in 2002 to resume production of his local music performance show, OutLoud. From that, he transitioned to local music documentaries, until one day he found himself standing in a muddy salt marsh with a camera, and his life was changed forever. Rob created this blog for a National Science Foundation funded marine biology project called In the Grass, On the Reef. No one asked Rob to expand on this work and cover all ecology in our area, but it seemed like a good thing to do. Subsequent projects under the Ecology Blog umbrella include EcoShakespeare (funded by WNET and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and Roaming the Red Hills (funded by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy). His most recent documentary follows the lives of four red wolf pups born at the Tallahassee Museum, apex predators that once hunted in our local wild spaces. Rob is married with two young sons, and they try to have outdoor family adventures as often as possible (you might see them on the blog from time to time).

6 thoughts on “Paddling and Wildlife Watching Around the Apalachicola River

  1. This is terrific, Rob! Tate’s Hell and all of Franklin County is such a special place. Shout out to the fine folks at FWC for all the hard work they do. 🙂

  2. You have done a great job with your site, Rob!

    Often over-looked, Madison, Florida, is a beautiful area for bird watching. Located in the north-central part of the state, Madison has a low population density and minimal industrial development. The county is the home of three rivers, numerous swamps, lakes and springs and the Lidell Brothers Nature Center, a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail. The trail is located on the campus of North Florida Community College and is open year-round to visitors.

  3. Rick, thanks for the info! I don’t often make it out to Madison County, so I’ll definitely have to look into these spots. We have one or two more spots to book for Spring and then we take a break until Fall- though I may try to sneak some Summer shoots in. Is there a time of year where any of these spots is better than at any other point in the year?

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