Zenfolio | April L. Gustetter | WEEKI WACHEE RIVER - Spring Hill, Fla.

93 photos

Rogers Park
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.
Unlike this view, the place was PACKED Sunday. I put in just right of the unload/load parking spot.It was about 2.75 miles each way...The homes on the WWR range from the very modest to the oh so wonderous...and sometimes they are both in one.What they all have, of course, are docks - and I find art in docks.Had to get the full view of this home in...I could definitely live here.This was the start of my shared journey with the manatee family.Hard to see in this shot, but the white "stripes" on the middle one are scars from propellers.They swam mostly to my left but occasionally right under my yak to get to the other side.Gentle & graceful, these "sea cows" peacefully glided amid the human traffic (again, white = scars).It broke my heart every time I saw the wounds I knew could have been avoided.Coming up for air, all that surfaced was a nose full of nostrils, then WHOOSH, back under it went.This family of manatees let me travel with them for the entire length of the the river from Rogers Park to the split at W. Richard Dr.Love this shot...so grateful I was there at that moment to capture it in time.Was not able to tell if this was an adult and two kids or two adults and one kid...nor did it matter.What was clear was that there was a lot of hugging going on :DNow you can see the scars...so wrong that these amazing, unthreatening creatures should have to suffer such pain.Humans can be asses sometimes.I took it upon myself to tell the too many motor boats to get away while traveling the nearly 3/4 of a mile with these sweet things.It was such an honor to be their guardian for this part of their journey and mine.Not once did they come up too soon or too close to be harmful to either of us...