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Latest update: Oct. 2015

Waccasassa River... Wild and Remote Paddling in North Florida

The Waccasassa River is fed by Blue Spring in Bronson and much of it borders Waccasassa Bay State Preserve. The lower river is more swampy, while the upper regions are higher and drier, with much wildlife viewing. Little creeks off the river invite for exploring, though beware of getting stranded at low tide.

paddle Waccasassa River, kayak, canoe

Distance: 29 miles (3-4 navigable)
Location: Levy County (Gulf Hammock, east of Cedar Key)
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Waccasassa River Park boat ramp (CR 326 off US 19) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Cedar Key, Crystal River, Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

None

Waccasassa River... Comments and Photos

Waccasassa - from launch upstream

We paddled upstream at high tide from the CR 326 launch for about three miles before a tree blocked the river and we turned back. The river is wide with a swift current to the juncture with the Wekiva River. After the Wekiva merge and past the CR 326 bridge the Waccasassa narrows with more twists and turns, and more obstacles. On the return trip, the effect of tide was evident - from the water line, we could see that the water went down at least a foot while we were paddling!

Launch to CR 326 Bridge

Upstream from CR 326 Bridge


Upper Waccasassa

Approaching US 19, the river becomes almost un-navigable with many log jams (we were stopped by downed trees). Although spring-fed, the water is dark (tannic) due to flowing through Devil's Hammock Swamp.

Waccasassa Bay State Preserve, accessible only by boat, is an important refuge for black bear, bald eagles, and endangered species such as manatees, and provides breeding areas for many fish and shellfish. Fishing is popular on both saltwater and freshwater within the preserve.

A popular annual event in April is the Wild Hog Canoe and Kayak Race , about 15 miles from the SR24 bridge to the SR19 bridge - a challenging race / obstacle course.

Blue Spring, Bronson FL

paddling Otter Creek, kayak, canoe

Blue Spring at Bronson, the springhead of the Waccasassa is a popular swimming hole, though the park was closed when we visited.

Upper Waccasassa Conservation Area

paddling Otter Creek, kayak, canoe

Along the river in the Upper Waccasassa Conservation Area; here we see why the river is un-navigable


Waccasassa - from launch downstream to Otter Creek

We paddled downstream at low tide from the CR 326 launch to Otter Creek, about 1.5 miles. At low tide, the beaches looked welcoming but were actually too soft to get out.

The river widens as it approaches Waccasassa Bay, with a swift tidal current. We ran into some motorboats in this section - most of the motorboats from the launch go downriver, the fishermen heading to the Bay and Gulf.

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