Trip: Rainbow Springs & River Run MLK W/E 2011
Meeting place, time and date: Rainbow Springs Campground, 10:00 am, Jan 16, 2011
Put in: Rainbow Springs Campground Canoe Launch Area, actual launch time for me was 11:15 am.
Take out: Fl. Hwy 484 river left, Blue Springs Park, Dunnellon Fl. I arrived at the take out at 03:30 pm.
Trip distance: Total distance for my trip was about 6 miles; However, it is only about 3.7 miles from the campground canoe launch downstream to Hwy. 484.
Shuttle distance: 6 miles
Trip notes and comments (paddlers, good stuff, bad stuff, river level, lunch stop, etc):
This was Lamar Phillips Rainbow Springs trip that I joined. There were probably about 30 paddlers at least. We met at the campground pavilion entrance, carried our boats and gear about 200 yards to the river at the canoe launch dock and made plans to set shuttle. Some of the group was going to do the short run from the put in down to Hwy. 484, take out, then go to Crystal River Kings Bay area to see manatees. I and many others put in at the canoe launch and paddled upstream to the Rainbow Springs Park and headwaters area then returned back downstream past the put in to Hwy. 484. The paddle from the campground to the headwaters and back adds about 3 miles to the 3.7 from the campground down to Hwy. 484.
Here again this was a very large group with different paddling interest. It was about 11:15 when I actually put in. Many of the group had already left, going upstream or down. It took me about 45 minutes of leisurely paddling in my tandem canoe to get to the park and headwaters area.
Rainbow Springs and river is a beautiful run but has all the usual restrictions in the headwaters area to protect the environment and habitat. The water is extremely clear being spring fed but the river is rather deep and ranges in width from about 100-200 feet. The upper portion, what I consider, from about a mile below the campground put in up to the headwaters, the river is generally lined with hardwood and palm tree forest. The river right bank is lined with houses, the river left bank is total forest. The lower portion, what I consider, from about a mile below the campground put in to Hwy. 484, the river changes complexion somewhat and the banks become lined with beautiful stands of cypress. There is more development in this area but still most of it is on river right. The water quality is still very good but you can tell it begins to darken slightly from tannic acid.
The Rainbow River is apparently a popular destination for divers. We saw many groups of divers on our trip and several pontoon boats leading scuba diving trips.
This is an excellent run for bird watching. I think I saw about as many birds on Rainbow as I did the Silver River.
There is a small spring fed creek about 100 yards upstream of the Rainbow Springs campground put in. It is on river left. I highly recommend paddling up it if you have the time. You can only go about 200 yards before it is fenceed of but I thought it was beautiful. Most of the group missed it as it is very small. Others that saw it had the same impression I did. A park official told me it used to be called Indian Springs but the headwaters property with the spring has been sold and the new owner has a sign where the stream is blocked calling it Gissy Springs.
All in all I think Rainbow Springs is a great beginner level paddling destination and deserves doing if you’re in the area. There is a link below to some pictures and comments from the trip.