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Trip report: Oct. 2012

Homosassa River...

Paddling with Manatees

The Homosassa River is fed by Homosassa Springs, and flows 8 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.  This is a prime manatee viewing area, the water around the spring maintains 72 degrees and manatee inhabit the area year-round. Because the mineral content of the water resembles salt water, both freshwater and saltwater fish can be found here. The spring is within Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, but access from the river is restricted as the park is a wildlife refuge. (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Homosassa Springs, Homosassa River, kayak, canoe

Homosassa River Paddling Map


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Distance: 8 miles
Location: Citrus County (Homosassa, 6 miles south of Crystal River)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Kayak launch at Riversport Kayaks; boat ramp at MacRae's. (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Riversport Kayaks (sales, rentals, tours)

River Safaris (tours)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

Homosassa River... Comments and Photos

We focused upstream from Homosassa to the state park. Downstream, the clear water from the spring becomes tannic and then brackish as it approaches the Gulf. The river flows through an undeveloped area, with mangrove islands and saltwater grass flats - a popular fishing area and full of motorboats.


Town of Homosassa to State Park and Return

The round trip from the town of Homosassa to the State Park is about 5 miles. We explored a few side canals as well. Some boaters told us they had seen manatee, but we did not see any on this trip.

 

Launch area at Homosassa, Monkey Island

Free launches are available in Homosassa from the boat dock at MacRae's or from the kayak launch behind Riversport Kayaks; we recommend the kayak launch and its easy trailer parking area. As we exited the canal from the kayak launch, Monkey Island (maintained by a local restaurant) was directly in front of us, with its mock lighthouse and home to a family of resident monkeys.

 


Homosassa to State Park, Side Creeks and Coves

Proceeding upstream the river is wide and can be rough when windy, watch for the many motorboats (No Wake Zones helpful). In this section, houses line much of the river, and some canals off the river wind through housing developments. After 1.5 miles, the Halls River feeds into the Homosassa, another paddle-friendly river we'd like to explore on another trip. The Homosassa narrows past this point and the spring is another 3/4 mile (access restricted). Note: while choppy water made it difficult to actually see manatees on this day, they made their presence known as we drifted and startled several. The resulting boils soaked our sit-on-top kayaks a few times.


Wildlife

We saw a lot of birds, these are some of them.


Also visit us here: Paddling on Florida's Nature Coast at Crystal River, Chassahowitzka River and Weeki Wachee River

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