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Latest update: Feb. 2016

Withlacoochee River (South)... Kayaking on an Outstanding Florida Waterway

Withlacoochee River (South), a designated Outstanding Florida Waterway, is a blackwater river originating in the Green Swamp. This twisting and turning river then flows northwest (one of a few rivers in Florida flowing south to north) to the Gulf of Mexico at Yankeetown. There is some development along the banks, but the major portion flows through state forest, wildlife areas, and public lands and is quite remote with diverse vegetation and wildlife. Note that motorboats and airboats share the river as it widens heading north (sections non-navigable to larger boats at low water). (Detailed map and photos below.)

Paddle West-Central Florida, Withlacoochee River

Map of Launches...
Withlacoochee Paddling Trail


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Distance: 76 mile designated trail (Lacoochee to Dunnellon); 100+ miles total
Location: Pasco, Hernando, Sumter, Citrus, Marion Counties
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Lacoochee Park, CR 575 bridge, Silver Lake Recreation Area, Hog Island Recreation Area, Nobleton Wayside Park, Lake Townsen Regional Park, Centennial Park, others (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Fort Cooper State Park, Brooksville, Withlacoochee State Trail

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Withlacoochee River Canoe Rental (rentals)

Nobleton Outpost (rentals)

Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak (rentals)

Support and Advocacy:

Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration

Withlacoochee River (South Section)... Comments and Photos

Initially, the river is narrow and depending on rainfall can be impassable. The best paddling and the designated trail starts at SR 575 (Lacoochee Park) and travels north to Dunnellon (Dunnellon Wayside Park, US 41 bridge). Rainbow River feeds into the Withlacoochee just before Dunnellon. East of Dunnellon the river passes through Lake Rousseau, which was formed by a dam in the early 1900's, and then continues west to the Gulf.

The river passes through the Withlacoochee State Forest, the third largest state forest in Florida. In addition to paddling, activities include hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, fishing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and horseback riding.


Paddling on the Withlacoochee, South to North

 

CR575 Upriver into Withlacoochee State Forest

From Withlacoochee River Canoe Rental (CR575 at Lacoochee), paddling upriver. Due to low water the launch was high and dry so we launched from the river bank below.

 


Silver Lake

Silver Lake Recreation Complex

Silver Lake Recreation Complex has parking, picnic pavilion, fishing, hiking trails, boat/kayak/canoe launch, and campground.


Upriver from Silver Lake

From the launch at CR60 at the south end of Silver Lake, paddling upriver. At the launch area are parking, swimming, fishing, and picnicking. On different trips, we saw a big difference paddling at low water (wide banks, places to pull off) vs. high (fewer places to pull off).

Low Water

High Water


Little Withlacoochee River

The Little Withlacoochee joins the main river near Silver Lake. A more technical paddle; we paddled at high water, but can be non-navigable at low water.


Iron Bridge

Launch

We launched at Iron Bridge, paddling both upriver and down from the launch. We paddled during low water, so there were many places to land but we also were stopped by shallow water and had to turn around. The Iron Bridge Day Use Area has parking, kayak/canoe launch, picnicking, and hiking.

 

 

Downstream from Iron Bridge

 

Upstream from Iron Bridge


Hog Island (south of Nobleton)

Launch

We launched at the Hog Island Recreation Area. The river splits here and circles Hog Island, a nice paddling trip. We then paddled upstream. This is a very pretty area, through cypress forest - but few places to stop and stretch. The Hog Island Recreation Area has parking, picnicking, hiking and equestrian trails, boat/kayak/canoe launch, and a campground.

 

 

Paddling Around Hog Island

 

Upstream from Hog Island


Wildlife

Wildlife abounds in this area, here are some we saw.

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