The Weeki Wachee River, located in Hernando County in the town of Weeki Wachee. It is a 12 mile long river, flowing in a westerly direction from Weeki Wachee to the Gulf of Mexico. The source is the deepest naturally occurring, first magnitude spring in the United States, discharging from 112 to 150 million gallons of water a day. As with most Florida Springs, the water temperature averages 72-74° the year round.
Designated an Outstanding Florida Waterway in 2003, the river flows through open marshes and the southern portion of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. Wildlife is abundant along the first few miles of the river. Herons, Eagles, Egrets, Wood Storks and more call this river home. Theres is a diverse variety of trees from hardwoods to subtropicals that provide a pleasing canopy for much of the paddle. During cooler weather in winter, West Indian Manatees make their way from the Gulf of Mexico up into the river to enjoy the warmer water.
On the down side, the Weeki Wachee River has a high rate of nitrates and can be clearly seen paddling mile 4 to 5 where the residential communities align the river.
Location: The Weeki Wachee River is located in Hernando County, northwest of Spring Hill, near the intersection of Hwy 50 and Hwy 19
Launch/Take Out Point: The launch is located inside Weeki Wachee State Park. Reservations are required. Visit Boating in Florida to make reservations online…they are required. They can also be reached by phone 352-597-8484. Launching your own kayak costs $6.00. Boating in Florida is the only kayak and stand-up paddle board rental facility located in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Rental Fees are…
SINGLE KAYAK RENTAL: $35
TANDEM KAYAK RENTAL: $45
PRIVATE BOAT: $6
The Boating in Florida website has all the information you need about paddling on the Weeki Wachee River.
Take Out Point: The take out point is at Rogers Park, 7240 Shoal Line Blvd, Weeki Wachee, FL 34607If you have to park your car at Rogers Park it is $5.00 payable by Credit Card only!.
Current – Tidal: The river flows in a West-Northwesterly direction with a swift current at the start, slowing somewhat further down river. Not until you pass the take out at Rogers Parks and get closer to the Gulf do tides influence the river.
Rest Areas: Restrooms available at the launch as well as the take out. Along the river, there are numerous areas to exit your boat and relax.
The Paddle Route…
The Scenic Weeki Wachee…
After checking in at the Boating in Florida office, there is a staging area where kayak carts are available to walk your kayak down a paved road approximately 400′ to the launch. Here attendants will check your paperwork, check your coolers for alcohol as well as glass containers. not allowed on the river. PFD’s are required for launch and may be removed once on the river.
The paddle begins! This river is one of my favorites that I have paddled on. The water is so clear, with sandy bottoms giving off a wonderful blue and aqua hue almost the entire length. The river starts out with a swift current, around 3 mph perhaps a little more. It is noticeably cooler once on the river. Throughout the paddle, at least in the first 4+ miles, before reaching the denser populated area, there are numerous spots to enjoy a shallow sandy beach will resting, snorkeling or having a lunch. There are several marked in the paddle map above.
On today’s paddle the temperature was perfect, the sky was blue with scattered white clouds which leads to great photography, being able to capture crisp colors that aren’t washed out. Dahoon Hollies were the predominant tree on most of the run. With bright red berries, these trees bordered the entire river. Complementing the Hollies, were numerous patches of Tickseed Marigolds, with bright yellow flowers dominating the shoreline. Along with the flowering marigolds were numerous clumps of Climbing Aster with their light and purple star blossoms. We enjoyed a wonderful canopy of Hollies, Maples, Cedars, Cypress, Bay, Palms, Gums and Oaks.
The weather, being warmer than usual this time of year, has probably kept the Manatees from swimming up the river. Usually this time of year several West Indian Manatees can be seen. The first mile of the paddle is through an open marsh and here we have seen otters, raccoons and several water birds such as Anhingas, Cormorants, Herons and Egrets. There is quite a bit more wildlife to be seen during different times of the year. Wood Storks, Alligators, Turtles, Ibis, Lumpkins are just a few species that can be seen along the river. Mullet are easily seen swimming below the surface and occasionally jumping out of the water.
Just after four miles into the paddle, the last mile and a half residential homes line the river. While the homes are quite interesting to look at with their nautical river themes, the water quality is not as interesting. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, Weeki Wachee Spring has the highest nitrate concentrations of any the springs in the Springs Coast Basin and is evident by the greener appearance of the water.
In all, this was a fantastic day and a fantastic river to paddle on. The vivid colors of the water, the floral bloom and diversity of the trees made it such a pleasurable trip. The many stops along the way to rest in a shallow sandy bottom beach were perfect. This is definitely a paddle to enjoy during the week while school is in session to avoid crowds, though the park does limit the amount of folks able to launch each hour. Always a favorite and always rewarding, ending another chapter in Florida Paddle Notes.