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Weeki Wachee River Report
(Canoe Rental to Rodgers Park)

View: More Weeki Wachee River reports, Southwest FL Locations 

Report By:  gpax    Date: 1/17/2009 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 28 photos     Map & Directions: View

Clear, stunning aqua-marine water with sand bottom. Wildlife as well as water front houses. Limited pull overs. Lower part had a significant tidal influence. Manatees seem fairly common.

My Report:

Chris and I had this date circled on our calendar for quite some time to visit Central Florida's Nature Coast. As the weekend weather forecast came closer we found ourselves being accompanied by an Alberta Clipper cold front on the same weekend.

Our plan to launch at the Weeki Wachee Canoe Rental at 8 AM was moved back to a warmer noon. We arrived with four layers of clothes. I dropped off the boats and my sister helped me shuttle our car to Rogers Park for a downstream paddle / pedal. The attendant at the canoe rental place charged $20 to allow us to carry our own kayaks through his shop and launch them down a trail out back. Even though we were his only business he was a shade grumpy with us.

We found the river to be a stunning aqua-marine color. Chris was a bit taken back when she put her hand in the water and it was way warmer than the air. Then we remember that the spring water is 72 to 74 year round.

We immediately passed our only tour pontoon boat full of tourists. The first mile or so is part of the Weeki Wachee Park. The parking lot was empty which gave me the impression that the park was closed. I was surprised to see the pontoon boat. We passed one canoe, one kayak and two power boats before reaching Rogers Park.

Immediately we saw large birds and turtles. Some were doing lazy eights in the air currents while some were probing the banks with large bills. The river was full of a variety of fish which could be seen in the crystal clear water. Five turtles were seen sunning themselves in our short trip as well as three large deer. I still have not seen an alligator from my kayak seat.

About half the way down we began to see large houses along the banks as well as a couple of camps and a set of condos. When we reached the tidal influenced areas we found houses built along the banks with seawalls. All of the banks were posted and there were no pull outs. We did find one remote sand bank and stepped out for a few minutes.

About a half mile before the end we ran aground in an area with a home owner out shoveling under his dock. He explained that it was low tide and the tide was very low in the winter. I had heard that we needed to take tide into consideration and now I knew first hand.

We continued another quarter mile and saw a canoe with three people fishing in a hole. I saw something unusual in the water and asked them if they saw it. And they said yes it was a manatee. I u-turned to the fishing hole for my first encounter with a manatee.

The manatee sort of appeared out of the deep under my boat. I looked down and saw a huge tail appearing on my left perpendicular to the boat. I was shocked at how big it was. He appeared to drift out of view. Then I saw two round nostrils surface for a quick breath of air. I paddled around there for a good fifteen minutes before continuing on. Chris had continued to paddle and left me. She missed these amazing creatures. My guess was that there were at least five in this hole.

I paddled down about a quarter mile and took a left just before the bridge. The canoe / kayak launch was high and dry because of the low tide. We retrieved our kayaks and tied them on top of our car. The boat ramp was closed for construction so there was no attendant to take money. We parked for free.

This was a tremendous spot for my first Central Florida paddle. The color and clarity of the water were amazing. We rode the current down stream which helped. Due to our late start the shadows became long and the sun low before we were out but the water colors were stunning. And my very first encounter with the manatees in the hole was awesome. Even though the negatives were the expensive and a bit grumpy put-in, few pullovers and low water due to tides, I would still rate this river as a must paddle five.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Fees/Costs $: $20 for two kayaks

Photos from Canoe Rental to Rodgers Park:    (Click image to view full size)

Canoe Rental No Comm
Canoe Rental

We start at the canoe rental. With wheels inserted we roll through the door ahead and through a 36 inch door. The putin is 75 yards down a single lane road.

Canoe rental launch No Comm
Canoe rental launch

We are off. Chris is surprised when she puts her hand in the water how warm it feels.

2 birds and a turtle No Comm
2 birds and a turtle

Almost immediately we are greeted by two birds and a turtle.

Looking down river No Comm
Looking down river

Weeki Wachee Scene

Beautiful water No Comm
Beautiful water

Weeki Wachee Scene

Turtle Sunning No Comm
Turtle Sunning

This turtle has his hind legs up catching the full strength of the afternoon sun.

gpax No Comm

Chirs catches me paddling downstream.

Cypress Tree No Comm
Cypress Tree

Weeki Wachee Scene

Clear water No Comm
Clear water

Weeki Wachee Scene

Deeper blue hole No Comm
Deeper blue hole

Weeki Wachee Scene

So photogenic No Comm
So photogenic

Weeki Wachee Scene

Another scene No Comm
Another scene

Weeki Wachee Scene

Houses along banks No Comm
Houses along banks

Weeki Wachee Scene

Bird No Comm

Weeki Wachee Scene

Cypress Knees No Comm
Cypress Knees

Weeki Wachee Scene

Schools of Fish No Comm
Schools of Fish

Weeki Wachee Scene

Sea walls No Comm
Sea walls

Weeki Wachee Scene

First Manatee Sign No Comm
First Manatee Sign

Weeki Wachee Scene

Diving Cypress Tree No Comm
Diving Cypress Tree

Weeki Wachee Scene

Place to step out No Comm
Place to step out

Weeki Wachee Scene

Huge ferns No Comm
Huge ferns

Weeki Wachee Scene

Chris navigates No Comm
Chris navigates

Weeki Wachee Scene

More seawalls No Comm
More seawalls

Weeki Wachee Scene

Beautiful bird No Comm
Beautiful bird

Weeki Wachee Scene

Signs No Comm

With all the canals it is easy to get lost. Signs have been placed at intersections.

Swirl in the water No Comm
Swirl in the water

I ask these guys,"Whats that swirl?" "Oh, thats just a manatee." I U-turn my kayak. Chris paddles off downstream.

Manatee under boat No Comm
Manatee under boat

My first sight of a manatee was when he came up under my boat. Gosh, he is bigger than my boat!!!!

Manatee surfaces No Comm
Manatee surfaces

My first ever encounter. He comes up for a breath. I clearly see his two round nostrils. I stayed 15 minutes and probably saw five manatees.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsWeeki Wachee State Park is adjacent to our put in but we did not explore much due to our late put in.

Post Date: 1/20/2009

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