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Latest update: October 2020

Waccasassa River... Upstream from Launch

Wild and Remote Paddling in North Florida

The Waccasassa River is fed by Blue Spring in Bronson, FL and much of it borders Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park. 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 on an outgoing tide.

paddle Waccasassa River, kayak, canoe

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Waccasassa and Wekiva Rivers, Otter Creek

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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



 Page Summary:

  1. Paddling on Waccasassa River
  2. Waccasassa River... Upstream
    - Upstream from launch, Wekiva River juncture
    - Blue Spring, Bronson FL
    - Upper Waccasassa Conservation Area
  3. Waccasassa River... Downstream
    - From launch downstream to Otter Creek
  4. About Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park
  5. More Information and Resources

Paddling the Waccasassa River... Comments and Photos

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

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.

Waccasassa River... Upstream

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

Blue Spring, Bronson FL

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

paddling Otter Creek, kayak, canoe

Upper Waccasassa Conservation Area

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

paddling Otter Creek, kayak, canoe

Waccasassa River... Downstream

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.

About Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

Continuing to Waccasassa Bay, the Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park, 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. Primitive camping available.

More Information and Resources

Nearby Paddling:

Waccasassa / Wekiva / Otter Creek Overview
- Waccasassa River
- Wekiva River (Levy County)
- Otter Creek
See FL North Region for more paddling

Related Resources:

Florida State Parks - Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

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