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Lastest update: April, 2016

Weeki Wachee River... Paddling and Mermaids

Weeki Wachee Springs is famous as an attraction featuring the Weeki Wachee mermaids and is now owned and operated by the State of Florida as part of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The first magnitude spring feeds the Weeki Wachee River which extends 8 miles to the Gulf of Mexico at Bayport. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Paddle Weeki Wachee, West-Central Florida

Distance: 8 miles
Location: Hernando County (US 19 and SR 50)
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
Tidal: Partially, where the river meets the Gulf
Launch points: Weeki Wachee State Park, Rogers Park, Bayport (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Buccaneer Bay

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

CHS Watersports (rentals)

The Kayak Shack (rentals, tours)

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (rentals, tours)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Weeki Wachee River... Comments and Photos

The run between Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and Rogers Park is a popular weekend destination - the best paddling is on weekdays to avoid the weekend paddlers and tubers. The swift current made the downstream trip an easy paddle, and we recommend it for casual paddlers for both the ease of the ride and the beautiful scenery. Motorboats are allowed and motor traffic can be busy, with more as the river approaches the Gulf (popular with fishermen). Watch also for the river boat that launches from the State Park.


Weeki Wachee Springs State Park to Rogers Park

We paddled the 5.5 miles from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park to Rogers Park, using the Kayak Shack shuttle to drop us off at the state park then paddle downstream.

Launch to Spring

We paddled upstream a short distance to the spring, but access is restricted. Watch for the tour boats. Here, the water is crystal clear.


 

Downstream

Leaving the State Park, the river is usually clear, with many twists and turns - beautiful and wild through park and forest. Continuing downstream, the water becomes more tea colored. A few houses line the river between the 2 and 3.5 mile markers; at Weeki Wachee Gardens (approaching Rogers Park) are many more homes and a maze of canals. As it approaches the Gulf, the river widens, flowing past open flats and sawgrass. Closer to the Gulf, high winds and tide can create rough water and challenging paddling.


 

Wildlife

 Wildlife include otter, alligators, turtles, deer, and a variety of fish and birds. We saw many fish and assorted birds and turtles. Manatees are common, especially in cooler weather - we were told some had been seen, but we saw none this trip.


Paddling at Bayport

Launch and Park at Bayport

We had not been to Bayport in a couple of years and enjoyed the new kayak/canoe launch and picnic area. Launch from here, or from the boat ramp (trailer parking fee applies).

 


 

Bayou and Gulf

We launched from the boat ramp and returned to the kayak launch. Our trip took us around the canals in the bayou and under the Cortez Blvd. (SR 50) bridge out to the Gulf. High winds created waves and some challenging (and wet!) paddling. In the bayou are many channels, a good map and GPS are recommended to avoid getting lost in the maze. We also heard air boats (though could not see them), so be careful.


Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

In addition to the spring and mermaids, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking, picnicking, and restaurant. Other activities are the Buccaneer Bay water park (Florida's only spring-fed water park), and a River Boat Cruise.

 

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

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