Frances Avenue Park
5580 Frances Ave
New Port Richey, FL 34653
The Pithlachascotee River is an urban river located in the city of New Port Richey on Florida's central Gulf Coast. A trip along the "Cotee" (pronounced coat-e), as locals call it, offers kayakers and canoeists the opportunity to paddle twisty and shallow streams, a wide tidal influenced river and numerous saltwater bays.
The upper part of the Pithlachascotee River is an official canoe trail as part of Florida's Statewide System of Greenways and Trails system. The 5-mile trail starts very narrow and shallow by the Rowan Road bridge and finishes at Frances Avenue City Park.
This is the route I took, in reverse. I put in at Frances Avenue City Park, skirted the edges of the James E. Grey Nature Preserve, passed under and paddled beyond Rowan Road bridge, then turned around and enjoyed the route back. It was a wonderful 3.5-hour round-trip paddle, taking time to explore side canals, pause for photos, and make one pit-stop (didn't stop for lunch...I blissfully ate my salad while gliding with the current).
This part of the Cotee is very remote, unlike the lower portions of the river, which are far more urban with housing on both banks. The upper tract has only periodic signs of human occupation (I saw a couple of motorized boats at my launch and return, with only one canoe along the way...weekends may be more populated). Vegetation is lush and varied, with some areas only navigable by kayak due to downed trees.
Frances Avenue Park is a small, clean city park with restrooms, a cement boat ramp, and areas for canoe and kayak launching. At low tide (like the Friday morning I put in), the shore is slick mud, but take-out is a breeze when the tide comes in.
The James E. Grey Preserve is an 80-acre nature park, of which 50 acres are protected wetlands. The preserve officially opened to the public in 2003 and is named after the patriarch of the Grey family. John Grey brokered the deal between the city and a New York company for the land. An archaeological survey done for the city found pottery fragments and tool pieces from what was probably a seasonal hunting camp used by prehistoric American Indians dating as far back as 2,500 B.C. Also, The West Pasco Audubon Society has found 140 species of birds in the preserve. The park features a canoe/kayak launch, covered pavilion, picnic tables, restrooms, and several hiking trails.
© April L. Gustetter