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Weeki Wachee River Report
(Rogers Park)

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Report By:  ed    Date: 11/25/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 15 photos     Map & Directions: View

I rarely take mid-week trips but when John Norris from FPTA emailed and said that a few friends were paddling Weeki Wachee on Tuesday morning, I took notice. Between fall colors, paddling buddies and manatee sightings, it was a great trip!

My Report:

John Norris from Florida Paddling Trails Association invited me on this mid-week paddling trip. Now I usually don't go mid-week, as I like to keep to an "honest" work week, however a chance to see the fall colors on the Weeki Wachee River with John, Terry and Beth was a tempting invitation.

The plan was to meetup with John and crew at the Hardees near US 19 and SR 50. That's just north of the newest addition to the Florida State Park system. For those not in the know, as of November 1, Weeki Wachee Springs has become a state park. Here is a link to the official website. If you plan on visiting the state park be sure to check out their schedule on the website as hours vary by day / season.

Of course, I arrived late at Hardees and missed them by a few minutes. The skies were cloud covered, gray and a light rain. Not a good morning for paddling, or was it?

Backtracking to the put-in at Rogers Park I finally joined the group. After a brief diversion and giving the rainstorm some time to pass, the clouds gave way to sunny blue skies. It was chilly by Florida standards but "Polar Bear Terry" from Montana had no trouble with the weather.

We quickly launched and headed up river. A few manatees were spotted at Hospital Hole and along the river purple asters were in bloom. Fall colors were everywhere and a quite startling difference from my October Weeki Wachee trip.

About halfway to the spring we ran into a young manatee at a large bend in the river. At first we thought he/she was alone, but soon spotted mama and sibling nearby. The manatee was curious and kept following Beth around the pool. Terry decided to get a closer look and borrowed a mask / snorkel from Beth and went for a swim. Twenty minutes later the manatee decided he had enough of human play and went back to his family and we continued up river.

As I mentioned earlier, Weeki Wachee Springs is now a state park. The first noticeable difference was a large yellow floating barrier to keep boats out of the springhead. Previously, a steel cable was suspended in the river near water level.

There is no place to get out of your kayak / canoe at the headsprings, so plan on staying in your boat during the upper part of the river. In an emergency you can exit at the springs or nearby canoe rental, but otherwise plan on eating / resting in the boat.

Our return trip took only about 1/3 the time as it did going up river. It almost happened too fast and I still had 30 or so photos left on my camera. Drats! I'll have to come back and shoot more fall foliage soon.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 12
Fees/Costs $: Free

Photos from Rogers Park:    (Click image to view full size)

Morning Mist No Comm
Morning Mist

After the rain subsides, a morning mist was all that was left behind.

Terry Canoes No Comm
Terry Canoes

Terry paddling his hand-made canoe on the Weeki Wachee River.

Beth Baby Manatee No Comm
Beth Baby Manatee

Beth paddling with a baby manatee. Don't worry - mom and sibling were close by.

Baby Manatee No Comm
Baby Manatee

A young manatee checking out Beth and her sea kayak on the Weeki Wachee River.

Terry Snorkels No Comm
Terry Snorkels

Terry wanted to get a closer look so he stripped down to shorts, grabbed Beth's mask and went for a swim!

Terry Snorkeling No Comm
Terry Snorkeling

Terry snorkeling with a young manatee on the Weeki Wachee.

Beth's Manatee Pool No Comm
Beth's Manatee Pool

We spent about 20 minutes watching the young manatee who seemed to be having fun with Beth and Terry.

Fall on Weeki Wachee No Comm
Fall on Weeki Wachee

Fall comes to the Weeki Wachee River.

John at Weeki Wachee No Comm
John at Weeki Wachee

John Norris of Florida Paddling Trails Association on the Weeki Wachee.

XMas Tree No Comm
XMas Tree

This would make a fine cypress Christmas Tree.

Beautiful River No Comm
Beautiful River

Can you ever get bored of the Weeki Wachee River? Each season brings new adventures!

Purple Asters No Comm
Purple Asters

Purple Asters were in full bloom along the Weeki Wachee River.

More Fall Colors No Comm
More Fall Colors

Great fall season paddling on the upper part of the river.

Terry's not cold. No Comm
Terry's not cold.

Terry, who hails from Montana, doesn't let to cool temperatures affect his shirtless paddling trip!

At the Springs No Comm
At the Springs

End of the line at Weeki Wachee Springs. The state has added a new barrier across the river. More changes sure to come with the new state park.


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsWeeki Wachee Springs and its famous mermaids are now part of the state's park system. As of Nov 1, 2008, the Department of Environmental Protection officially took over the 60-year-old tourist attraction, incorporating it into the state park system.

Post Date: 11/26/2008

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