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Jenkins Creek Report

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Report By:  ed    Date: 3/16/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 15 photos     Map & Directions: View

A loop covering three Hernando County Parks, saltwater marsh, freshwater springs, developed housing areas, manatees and wildlife galore. Being my first time, it took me 7.3 miles of paddling, but I'll show you how you can see the sights in only 5!

My Report:

Time: Sunday, 3:15pm. Just finished refreshing Canoe and Kayak Lists. If you need paddling gear checklists you should visit the site. Ok, I know you didn't come here for equipment lists...

Quickly loading the kayak and a short drive later, I was at Jenkins Creek Park in Hernando County. The small park has a boat ramp, picnic area, restrooms and fishing pier. A much larger Linda Pedersen Park sits across CR-597. It has all the rest of the usual park amenities, including a 40-foot tall observation tower that I took advantage of for shooting some sunset photos.

The Jenkins Creek ramp is designed for small boats, which makes it idea for us kayakers and canoeists. From the ramp, waterways lead toward the Gulf (left - by going under the bridge) or to the Weeki Wachee River (right - via canals and a short tunnel).

In fact, I found that you could do a complete loop from Jenkins Creek along the saltmarsh, out to Bayport Park, up the Weeki Wachee River to Rogers Park and back along the canal to Jenkins Park. That's the 5 mile trip I'm going to share with you.

Distances on the "Jenkins Creek - Weeki Wachee Loop" never exceed two miles between good places to land so I'd rate this as a safe trip as long as winds are calm. Paddling conditions can change quickly in the saltmarsh or open Gulf if the winds pick up. Another thing - watch for boats, especially as you near Bayport Park.

The Trip:

Starting from the Jenkins Creek ramp, go left under the bridge. After passing the bridge and fishing pier, turn west and follow the marsh grasses toward the Gulf. The passageway continues to open up wider as you near the Gulf. Lots of saltmarsh, saw grasses, bird life along the way.

At about 1 mile, several small passageways lead off to the north. I didn't bother exploring them and instead kept to the main waterway. The main channel on Jenkins Creek is not marked, so keep good track of where you entered the Gulf, as many passageways look the same. At about 1.5 miles and just past a large strand of palm trees on the north side of channel indicate the point to turn north. Looking north you'll be able to see several small islands, some with palms. These lie between Jenkins and Weeki Wachee River.

Paddling north you'll spot the building and fishing pier at Bayport. To my surprise, the park has been closed since November for repairs. Will reopen in May 2008. Covered picnic tables, restrooms and boat ramp at Bayport.

To continue your loop, reenter Weeki Wachee River and follow the channel markers upstream. After about a mile, you'll start to see civilization again. Follow the Weeki Wachee toward the housing development. Several canals lead into the houses, but keep the houses on your right side and the marsh on your left to avoid getting lost. If the water starts to look black and tannin stained instead of clear, you've probably gone the wrong way.

You will go past many unique homes - some big and contemporary, some tiny and not so nice. If you pass a run-down A-Frame house / shed, you're on the right path.

About 3/4 mile after entering the housing area, you'll see the CR-597 bridge. Just beyond the bridge lies a restaurant and a kayak rental shop on the north side of the river and Rogers Park on the south. Go past the beach and turn right at the canal to find the canoe launch. Rogers makes a fine place to get out, stretch the legs, have lunch, do some swimming, etc.

Done splashing in the water at Rogers? You can take a side trip up the beautiful Weeki Wachee River or continue on this adventure by going under the CR-597 bridge and immediately turning south. A canal follows the roadway and that is your way back to Jenkins Creek.

Along the way you'll pass under several small bridges and need to go through a 30 foot long by about 4 foot wide tunnel. I had to put the paddle across the deck and push my way through using my hands. Thankfully the tunnel was surprisingly clear of spiders.

Just as I exited the tunnel, a person who I didn't notice as I entered the tunnel surprised me with "Hi There". I jumped, knocking the GPS off the deck and into the water. Did I tell you how much I like the floating case my GPS came in? I retrieved the GPS and chatted with the fellow for a few minutes. He mentioned that quite a few kayakers use the tunnel and he even spotted manatee on doing the same on their way to Weeki Wachee.

Beyond the tunnel lies another 1/2 mile of canal along CR-597. It's wide and not too scary, even during dusk hours like when I traveled this portion.

You'll soon spot a bridge on the left leading under CR-597. This goes back to the springs at Jenkins Creek. I followed it for a bit, but was quickly running out of light and wanted to get sunset photos from the observation tower. At the bridge, the canal continues south. Don't go south - instead turn right toward the saltmarsh. As you round the corner, you'll see the bridge near the put-in at Jenkins Creek. Another 400 yards and you're home free.

Put the keyboard down, get out and try this 5-mile loop of Jenkins Creek and Weeki Wachee River for yourself. You'll have a blast!

GPS Coordinates:
Jenkins Creek Boat Ramp N28 31.387 W82 38.268
Jenkins / Gulf Entrance N27 31.812 W82 39.116
Bayport Park N28 32.174 W82 38.981
Rogers Park N28 31.865 W82 37.636
Tunnel N28 31.692 W82 37.958

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: Saltwater
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 5
Fees/Costs $: Free

Photos from Jenkins Creek:    (Click image to view full size)

Linda Pedersen Park No Comm
Linda Pedersen Park

The 40-foot high observation tower at Linda Pedersen Park. Come out and watch the sunset from here.

Jenkins Creek Put-In No Comm
Jenkins Creek Put-In

Looking north from the boat ramp at Jenkins Creek. This direction takes you directly to Rogers Park and Weeki Wachee.

Wood Storks No Comm
Wood Storks

A couple of wood storks near Jenkins Creek Park.

Great Blue Heron No Comm
Great Blue Heron

I was surprised to find this colony of Great Blue Heron living across the water from Jenkins Creek Park.

Saltmarsh at Jenkins No Comm
Saltmarsh at Jenkins

At 4pm, it was a beautiful cloudless day. An hour later a few clouds started to appear low and close to the water.

Saltmarsh Clouds No Comm
Saltmarsh Clouds

From cloudless to gray in 15 minutes. A bank of fog rolled in, dropping temperature 5 degrees. I could feel the fog on my skin as I paddled through.

Nearing Bayport No Comm
Nearing Bayport

Your marker for turning north is a group of palm trees. These live on small islands between Bayport and Jenkins Creek.

Bayport Surprise No Comm
Bayport Surprise

Oops... should have checked. Bayport Park is closed Nov 2007 to May 2008.

More Palms No Comm
More Palms

One thing you won't run out of is palm trees in the Weeki Wachee River delta.

Bridge Jumper No Comm
Bridge Jumper

Some kids can't read - NO JUMPING - this one just launched himself off the CR-597 bridge at Rogers Park.

CR-597 Canal No Comm
CR-597 Canal

The canal that runs on the west side of CR-597 takes you back to Jenkins Creek.

Spiders in Tunnel? No Comm
Spiders in Tunnel?

The tunnel would be easier at low tide. I had about 3 feet from water to top of tunnel when I went through.

Jenkins Creek Bridge No Comm
Jenkins Creek Bridge

It's getting dark. A small foot bridge leading from Jenkins Creek Bridge to a nearby island.

Gulf Sunset No Comm
Gulf Sunset

The sun just about to disappear. Photo from Linda Pederson observation tower.

Jenkins Route Map No Comm
Jenkins Route Map

A topo map showing the 5 mile trail for this trip report.


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsAcross the road is Linda Pedersen Park, 135 acres with grills, picnic tables, swimming area, playground, community building, fishing pier, showers and a 40-foot observation tower. The tower makes a great place to watch the sun setting over the Gulf.

Post Date: 3/17/2008

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