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Latest update: March 2021

Wekiva River...

Wild and Scenic Kayaking in Central Florida

The Wekiva River begins at Wekiva Springs State Park and runs 16 miles north to the St. Johns River. The Wekiva is one of only two National Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida (the Loxahatchee River is the other). The Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run together comprise the Wekiva Paddling Trail. Despite proximity to Orlando and its developed suburbs, the river maintains its pristine natural beauty. However, it is threatened by pollution and utilities extracting water from the aquifer that otherwise would flow to the springs. (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Wekiva River

Wekiva River Paddling Map


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Distance: 16 miles; the 27 mile FL Designated Wekiva Paddling Trail includes Rock Springs Run, plus a section on the St. Johns River to take-out
Location:
Seminole County
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Wekiva Springs State Park (Wekiva Springs Road), Wekiva Island (Miami Springs Road), Wilson's Landing (SR46, Sanford), Katie's Landing (SR 46, Sanford), Highbanks Marina (St. Johns River) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Wekiva Springs State Park, Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Nature Adventures (rentals, Wekiva Springs State Park concessionaire)

Wekiva Outfitters (rentals, tours, shuttle; at Wilson's Landing)

Wekiva Island (rentals)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of the Wekiva River

Wekiva Wilderness Trust

Wekiva River... Comments and Photos

Wekiva Springs is a popular destination and the river can be busy, especially on weekends. Rentals and launch are located at Wekiva Springs State Park and at Wekiva Island (a private enterprise), Be careful as the Wekiva approaches the St. Johns due to motorboat traffic. Wildlife sightings include alligators, birds, turtles, deer, and an occasional black bear.


River Source at Wekiva Springs State Park

Wekiva Spring is the source of the Wekiva River. From the spring is a short run to the rental/launch area. Watercraft are not allowed on the spring run, a boardwalk blocks the way. The river run starts across a lagoon where alligators and other wildlife are often seen.

Wekiva Springs State Park is a great escape in the Orlando area (about 20 miles north), but can be very busy, especially on weekends and holidays. They shut the gates when they reach capacity - so plan to arrive early. State Park fee applies. Kayak and canoe rentals are available, and the spring is popular for swimming and snorkeling. the park also has a concession, Nature Center, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing, horseback riding, bird and wildlife viewing. We also enjoy hiking and biking at the Park, see our report at www.100FloridaTrails.com


Wekiva Springs State Park to Wekiva Island

This can be a busy section - especially on summer weekends - with paddlers launching from both Wekiva Springs State Park and Wekiva Island, plus others coming off Rock Springs Run. A positive is that no motorboats are allowed within the State Park boundary.

Wekiva Island has kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals. Launch your own vessel for a fee, the launch is from a concrete slab also used by boaters It can be slippery, be careful. This is a popular local watering hole and can get busy, especially on weekends.


Downstream from Wekiva Island

We paddled about 1.5 miles downstream from Wekiva Island. There's some boat traffic in this area, but a pretty paddling ride. We liked a side creek we explored, smaller and more technical, though we eventually turned back due to fallen trees and debris.

Paddling Downstream

Side Creek



Kayaking at Katie's Landing

Katie's Landing is the only launch on the river in the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. Located off SR46 (Sanford) along Wekiva Park Drive, north of the bridge over the Wekiva River, there's plenty of parking, a restroom and picnic tables with grills. State park fee applies.

Katie's Landing Upstream (past SR46 Bridge) and back

The launch is easy on and off. Upstream the river is wide, with little shade and some motorboat traffic. There are a few homes along the shoreline to the east.


Katie's Landing Downstream and back

The river was more narrow in this direction, and very pretty with several side canals for exploring. We saw lots of birds.


Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park

Across Wekiva Park Drive from Katie's Landing is a trailhead to trails at Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. Other activities at the Preserve are hiking, off-road biking, horseback riding, equestrian camping, bird and wildlife viewing, and fishing. To the west are the Seminole State Forest (hiking, biking, paddling, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing) and Rock Springs Run State Preserve (off-road biking, hiking, camping, equestrian trails, hunting).


Wilson's Landing

Located off SR46 (Sanford) along  Malekean Traill, south of the bridge over the Wekiva River, the park is pretty with a boardwalk overlooking the river and a big picnic pavilion available for rental. To launch (next to the boardwalk) requires wheels or dragging your kayak or canoe downhill about 100 yards (and consequently, back uphill after your paddle). For that reason, we launched from Katie's Landing. No fee.


Wildlife along Wekiva River

The abundant wildlife include the usual alligators, turtles, birds, fish. Bears, otters and deer are also seen.

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