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Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced Scenery: Good
Location: Cedar Key,
Levy County
Distance: 5 miles round-trip
Cedar Key to Snake Key
Atlas: Page 69 C-3
Last Update: November 2003 Canoe OK: No

Photos only Photo-trip - limited details.


Cedar Key is a quiet island community of about 700 residents located on the Gulf of Mexico along the big bend of Florida. During the 1800s, this area was once a bustling sea port and has many interesting historical sites and fun new developments. Paddling is great at Cedar Keys as long as you remember to watch the tides and oyster bars.

The island is surrounded by 13 smaller barrier islands in the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge which was established in 1929 by President Hoover. The area is home to and protected breeding grounds for many different species of birds including ibis, egrets, heron, pelicans and cormorants. Plants common to the area include saw palmetto, cabbage palm, live oak and, as the name of the islands indicates, cedar trees.


The nearest large city is Gainesville, approximately 50 miles to the northeast. From I-75 in Gainesville turn west on SR 24 (Exit 384, old #75) to Bronson. Continue west on SR 24 past Otter Creek to Cedar Keys. Follow signs to the "Big Docks". A small city park (Swim Beach) with parking, restrooms and boat ramp are located just before the docks.

Cedar Keys Photographs

Cedar Keys;City Park

Swim Beach at City Park
The swim beach at City Park is one of the few sandy beach areas in Cedar Key. Most of Cedar Key and neighboring islands are surrounded by shallow water and oyster bars.
Cedar Keys;Dock;Cedar Key Big Dock

Cedar Key Big Docks
On the way to Atsena Otie Key, you'll pass the Big Docks. This popular area offers good food, shopping and a number of art galleries. It makes a great place to stop for lunch after your paddle trip.
Cedar Keys;Atsena Otie

Atsena Otie Key
Heading south, Atsena Otie is a short 3/4 mile paddle from the Cedar Key Big Docks. Atsena Otie has a dock, hiking trails and an old cemetery that makes for interesting exploring.

With the exception of Atsena Otie Key, the interior of all other islands is closed.
Cedar Keys;Pelican;Atsena Otie;Dock

Atsena Otie Dock
In the 1800s Atsena Otie Key was the site of Eagle Pencil Company's Cedar Key factory. The plant operated until nearly all cedar trees in the area were depleted.
Cedar Keys;Snake Key

Beach at Snake Key
Continuing south for two miles past Atsena Otie, Snake Key is one of the southern most islands in the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. By the way, there really are snakes on Snake Key (as well as most other islands in this area).
Cedar Keys;Snake Key;Fishing

Fishing at Snake Key
Beside a nice beach, Snake Key offers great fishing. Bring a rod and try your luck for redfish.

For the more adventurous paddler, the next stop 2 miles to the west is Seahorse Key. Note the island is closed to all access from March 1 to June 30 to protect nesting birds.