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Weedon Island Preserve

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Difficulty: Basic Scenery: Very Good
Location: St. Petersburg,
Pinellas County
Distance: 4 miles (South Paddling Trail)
Atlas: Page 91 B-1
Last Update: May 2006 Canoe OK: Yes


Weedon Island Preserve is a 1,046 acre Pinellas park that is home to many different species of wildlife and plants. The park was established for preservation and education and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For the paddlesport enthusiast, Weedon Island offers two canoe trails only minutes from St. Petersburg, Largo or Pinellas Park.

Weedon;Mangrove Tunnels;Paddling
Its hard work paddling the narrow mangrove tunnels.
In many locations, the mangroves grow so close together they form a canopy (tunnel) that completely encloses the tidal creek.


Weedon Island is located north of St. Petersburg on Tampa Bay. The entrance of the Preserve can be found on the west side of the Gandy Bridge (SR 92). Turn south on San Martin Blvd. Travel approximately one mile and then east on Weedon Drive NE. Official address is 1500 Weedon Island Drive. The Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History center is located about 1 mile from the entrance station. A canoe launch, fishing pier and public restroom is at the end of Weedon Drive.

Hours are dawn to dusk, 7 days a week. The Natural History center is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Closed holidays. Guided hikes and canoe trips are available by calling 727-453-6500.

Important Items

Boat, Paddle, PFD
Take-apart, canoe paddle or pole
Insect Repellent


Saltwater Estuary
Mangrove Tunnels
Self-Guided Canoe Trail
Shallow water (1-5 feet)
Sea grasses
Native American Shell Mounds

Weedon;White Ibis
White Ibis.

Tour: South Paddling Trail (4 miles)

It's recommended to make the trip at high tide. During low tide you'll encounter what seems like miles of water less than two feet deep. Be aware that tidal currents race through the narrow mangrove tunnels and either provide push or additional exercise.

Begin at the canoe launch and head southeast into Papy's bayou (away from the fishing pier). You'll quickly spot canoe trail marker #1. The markers will be your guide for the duration of the trip. As you reach each marker, be sure to be on the lookout for the next one. The labyrinth-like maze of mangrove tunnels can easily confuse the unsuspecting paddler. At marker 3, you will enter the first mangrove tunnel. It's mandatory that you have a take-apart kayak paddle or canoe paddle as the tunnels are quite narrow. The mangrove tunnels offer much opportunity to see birds, fish and thousands of small black crabs hanging out on the mangrove roots. The tunnels also provide a haven for mosquitoes and other biting insects, so use insect repellent. You've been warned!

After paddling for approximately 15 minutes, you'll reach a saltwater pond at canoe marker #5. Cross the pond and enter the next set of tunnels. Another pond and more tunnels follow. In this area is a nice picnic spot, complete with tables and refuse containers. A hiking trail goes from the picnic area to a parking lot (approximately 300 yards away). Continue following the canoe trail to reach Tampa Bay. To the east lie Benjamin and Snake Islands. The trail continues south in the protected waters between Weedon and Ross Islands.

The last set of mangrove tunnels puts you back in Papy's bayou about one mile from the canoe launch. Look to the west to see the observation tower and fishing pier. By following these landmarks, you'll quickly find your way back.

Special Interest:

Weedon;Click to see a panarama of Weedon Island Preserve. Weedon Island has a very colorful and long history. The island was originally inhabited by early Native Americans from approximately 10,000 BC to 1,200 AD. For the careful observer, it's easy to spot elevated sections of ground that may be shell middens or burial mounds. An example of a kitchen midden can be found at the start of the boardwalk. This mound was originally over 10 feet high and 100 feet long. The midden was leveled during the 1930's when the Grand Central Airport was built on Weedon Island. The airport is no-more, but part of the foundation for the airport's office and waiting room still exists.

In more recent times, Weedon Island has seen development of a two mile long boardwalk that meanders through the mangrove swamp and the Cultural and Natural History Center in December 2002. The Paul Getting Memorial Trail (boardwalk) follows the south paddling trail through two saltwater ponds and the picnic area. The high point (literally) of the boardwalk is an observation tower that reaches 45 feet above sea level. Three levels of stairs takes visitors to an observation deck that provides a magnificent 360 degree view of the St. Petersburg area.

Weedon;Canoe Trail;Map
Weedon South Paddling Trail Map.
Weedon;Night Heron;Birds
Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.

GPS Location Aid


Weedon Island put-in
Canoe Launch
Canoe Trail #5
Saltwater Pond
Canoe Trail #8
Saltwater Pond
Picnic Area
Canoe Dock
Tampa Bay Access
No Exit