WEEKI WACHEE RIVER
7244 Shoal Line Blvd
Spring Hill, FL 34607
Includes boat ramp, canoe launch, swimming area, showers, seasonal lifeguards, observation deck, restrooms, picnic tables and shelter, playground, barbecue grills and a volleyball court. $5 to park.
After launching, head toward the main river and turn right. This will take you toward the headwaters and the main spring. Weeki Wachee River is darker at this point, due to run off and tannins, that are created by the cypress tree needles that drop into the water. These tannins create the copper color tainting the river.
Paddling east toward the spring head, the water becomes clearer and the flow is more pronounced. It can be difficult to make headway against the current especially during the low tide, when the water is being pulled out to the Gulf of Mexico. The river upstream is beautiful and wild. Downstream, development increases with many homes along the river banks.
The Weeki Wachee River (WWR) is a river in Hernando County, Florida. It flows 7.4 miles westwards from Weeki Wachee to the Gulf of Mexico at the Weeki Wachee estuary. The name is derived from the Seminole: uekiwv /oykéywa, wi:-/ "spring" and -uce /-oci/ "small", signifying either a small spring or an offshoot of a town named Spring. The river is best known for its spring, and the Weeki Wachee Springs attraction built on the premises. The spring is the surfacing point of an underground river, which is the deepest naturally occurring spring in the United States. It measures about 150 feet wide and 250 feet long, and daily water averages 170 million gallons. The water temperature is a steady 74.2 °F year-round.
The WWR runs through the Weekiwachee Preserve which is part of a regional system of conservation lands that extends up to Crystal River Buffer Preserve, preserving the southernmost coastal hardwood hammock in western Florida.
The preserve provides a rich mosaic of habitats including several miles of WWR frontage, portions of the Mud River, dense hardwood swamps, fresh and saltwater marshes, and pine-covered sandhills. The preserve is best known for its Florida black bear population. The bears are shy, elusive and pose no threat to people, spending most of their time deep within the swamp.
This is one of the best paddles Florida has to offer and a popular weekend destination (the best paddling is on weekdays to avoid the weekend paddlers and tubers). Motorboat traffic can be busy, watch also for the river boat that launches from the park. Manatees are common, especially in cooler weather. Other wildlife include otter, alligators, turtles, deer, and a variety of birds.
© April L. Gustetter