|Location: New Port Richey,
|Distance: 6 miles
one-way from Sims Park to Robert K. Rees Park on Green Key.
|Atlas: Page 91 C-3
|Last Update: November 2003
||Canoe OK: Yes
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 canoeists
and kayakers the opportunity to paddle twisty and shallow streams,
a wide tidal influenced river and numerous saltwater bays.
Alicia exploring mangrove 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
Francis Avenue City Park.
From US 19 and Main Street in New Port Richey, go one block north
on US 19 and turn left on Green Key Road. Follow Green Key Road
two miles to Robert K. Rees Memorial Park. Leave a car at the parking
lot by the beach. Return to the intersection of US 19 and Main Street.
Turn east (left) on Main Street and go two blocks to Sims Park.
The boat ramp is behind the Chamber of Commerce building on the
northwest side of the bridge. Parking is free.
Boat, Paddle, PFD
Urban Waterway (upper)
Nature Preserve (upper)
Tidal Influenced River
Saltwater Bays (lower)
Channel Marker 41 by US-19.
Tour #1: Sims Park to Green Key (6 miles one-way)
This trip requires a shuttle from the take-out at Robert K. Rees
Memorial Park on Green Key returning to Sims Park (River Road and
Main Street) in New Port Richey. Leave one car at Robert Rees Park
and take your primary vehicle (with boats and gear) to the put-in
at Sims Park.
To begin your Cotee adventure, start by paddling downriver. The
tidal influenced current flows in a northwesterly direction towards
the Gulf of Mexico. The first three miles of the trip pass through
an urban setting with housing on both sides of the river. As you
approach US 19, the river widens and you'll see a number of restaurants
that make a great place to stop for lunch. All are boater friendly,
and some have low docks or sandy beaches making it easy to land
your canoe or kayak.
Located by the restaurants and to the northwest of the US 19 bridge
is HR Nick Park, a small Pasco county park with picnic tables, restrooms
and boat ramp. This can be an alternative takeout point for those
desiring a three mile trip.
From HR Nick Park, follow the channel markers in a north then westerly
direction to the Gulf. As you near the Gulf, you'll see several
gray stilt homes approximately 1/2 mile into the water. These houses
on stilts were used as vacation homes and fishing retreats until
1968 when Hurricane Gladys destroyed or damaged the majority of
them. The State placed restrictions on rebuilding the houses following
the hurricane. If you decide to check out the survivors, remember
to hold your nose as pelicans and other birds use these homes as
their private islands. Do not land or dock as trespassing is prohibited.
From the southernmost stilt house, paddle 1.5 miles south along
the mangrove shoreline to Green Key. As you approach Green Key you'll
see a small covered observation deck that is part of the Robert
K. Rees Memorial Park. At the southeast end of the island is the
beach and take-out point.
Tour #2: Sims Park to James E. Grey Preserve (6.5
The 6.5 mile roundtrip from Sims Park to the James E. Grey Preserve
covers much of the navigable areas of the Pithlachascotee River
Canoe Trail. The lower section, from Sims Park to Francis Avenue
City Park, is mostly residential with housing on both banks of the
river. On weekends expect to encounter motor boat traffic. Upstream
from Francis Park the river becomes much more remote, with only
periodic signs of human occupation. Vegetation increases and you'll
hopefully spot a variety of wading birds, alligators and turtles.
To begin your journey, start at the boat ramp at Sims Park (directions
at top of this page). Paddle upstream about 2 miles. You'll pass
under two bridges. On the north bank of the river about 1/4 mile
past the Madison Street Bridge (the second one), you should see
a boat ramp. This is the Francis Avenue City Park ramp. The park
has picnic tables, a playground for kids and restrooms.
Going upstream from the Francis Park, you'll quickly start leaving
civilization behind and enter some nice wilderness areas. Where
the river appears to split, stay left. The right fork loops around
the island and you'll end up right back where you started. After
another mile paddling upstream, you should see a mobile home park
on the south side of the river. Keep paddling as trespassing is
discouraged (or so the sign says.) Another 1/4 mile and you'll see
the new (2003) James E. Grey Preserve.
The James E. Grey Preserve is about 80 acres of wetlands along
the Pithlachascotee River. The park opened in 2003 and features
a canoe launch, covered pavilion, picnic tables, restrooms, and
several hiking trails. We found the park little used and very clean,
but all of that could change as people discover this wonderful place
along the river.
To return to Sims Park in Port Richey, re-trace your path going
downstream for 3.25 miles. If you have extra energy and a hankering
to explore, about 100 feet down river from the mobile home park
is a small creek on the right-hand side of the river. Following
the twisty and narrow creek will take you to a large pond, complete
with island within the James E. Grey Preserve. You should be able
to spot a few picnic tables and a hiking trail.
If you are paddling the Cotee in late March, you don't want to
miss the annual Chasco Fiesta.
The fiesta started in 1922 as a way of honoring the
romantic legend of a Spanish boy and girl and the Calusa Indian
tribe who captured them. Today the fiesta features Native American
festivals, arts & crafts shows, live entertainment, running
races, and boat and street parades. It's good fun for the whole
family and one of the Southeast's biggest events.
Stilt house at mouth of
Beach at Robert Rees Memorial
Park on Green Key.
| GPS Location Aid
|HR Nick Park
|Robert Rees Memorial
Park - Green Key
|Francis Ave Park
|Mobile Homes/Side Trip
|James E Grey Preserve