The Chassahowitzka River (pronounced Chaz-witz-ka) is located just off US Hwy 19 about 7 miles south of Homosassa Springs. It is a wide, shallow river, less than 5 miles long, extending from a group of small springs to the Gulf of Mexico. As it nears the Gulf of Mexico it is fed by numerous small feeder creeks. Because the river is shallow, there is little to no development along the river until you near the gulf. Birds of all kinds abound.
After an overnight stay at the Rainbow Springs Campground, our group of GCA kayakers headed for the Chassahowitzka River. The weather which was cold overnight was expected to be sunny and in the mid 50’s with little wind. We were not disappointed. We launched our kayaks about 11:00 AM at the head springs and were immediately entertained by a few manatees in the springs. As we headed down stream, we saw numerous birds. The one most notable was the pelican. They would glide past our kayaks very close and then dive for food.
We had a difficult time finding a place for lunch as the area is a wet march and soft earth. We finally found a small out cropping of rock that looked like lava formation and had lunch. After lunch we headed back to the head springs.
On the return trip, we took a detour down Baird Creek. It is a narrow winding creek just barely able to float the kayak. At the end of Baird Creek the water gets too shallow to paddle and some of the kayakers ventured about 100 yards farther and ended up at a small spring. Upon leaving Baird Creek we headed back to the head springs.
At the head springs, we were again entertained by manatees.
A special thanks to Ralph Bartow, for organizing this special paddle. Also, to Lisa Haskell and all who helped for organizing the “Manatee Paddle” 2011