Paddlers:
Dickie Tillman and Allen Hedden

Weeki
Wachee River put in is behind Weeki Wachee Springs attraction located
on US 19 and FL50/US98. Turn in the parking lot, go to the left and
back side of the paved parking lot. There is an entrance to Weeki
Wachee Canoe and Kayak Rental Go With The Flow ( Tn 352-597-0360).
Go through the gate. River access is $5.00 and you can carry or use
one of their carts to get your boat down to the water about 200 yards
away. Weeki Wachee springs is about 200 yards upstream of the put
in but you cannot paddle all the way into the springs due to spring
protection. The gate closes at 3 pm so leave your vehicle outside
of the gate. Allen said he thought Weeki Wachee Springs and River
put in area was all now state park. He/we were comfortable leaving
our boat and gear unattended at the put in while we set shuttle.
All people around were either paddlers or park officials.

Take
out is Rogers Park and boat ramp just off Shoal Line Blvd/ Co Rd 597.
Our trip was on Friday and there was plenty of parking at the take
out. It may be different on weekends or busy seasons. There is no
parking fee at the put in area or take out that I saw.

The
shuttle route is left out of Weeki Wachee parking lot, left on Cortez
Blvd., left on Shoal Line Blvd. to river bridge. Turn left just past
the bridge for the entrance to the park. This is the first and only
bridge between the put in and gulf.

Appx
1.5 miles from take out river appears to fork. Stay left for main
channel. Canals are to the right for housing developments. Tide
begins to affect the river this far in. We saw several manatees in
a large pool/spring down in this area.

Down
stream current is good until 1.5-2 miles before take out due to tide.
Water quality is also excellent until this area. Water is still
clear but begins to darken a little.

River
distance is appx 5 miles, shuttle is appx 8.

We
did our own shuttle due to inflexibility of outfitter. They only
picked up at 2 and 3 p.m.


Click here for pictures

We
met at the put in at 10:30, paid fee, unloaded boats, carried to the
put in, set shuttle, put on and made it to the take out about 4 pm.
We probably would have been to the take out by 3 pm with leisurely
paddling and a lunch stop but we took a wrong turn at one of the
forks and wasted appx 1 hour until we found the error of our ways out
of the canals. Had we not made the mistake in route and been at the
take out earlier we probably would have paddled below the take out
towards the gulf. If you are unfamiliar with the area and you go
below the bridge it would be a good idea to google up and print a map
of this area or have a gps. There are forks and canals in the river
before it gets to the gulf.

This
is a beautiful run definitely worth doing again. We saw lots of
fish, some bird life, turtles and manatees. All of this run is river
like in that it is tree lined with widths 50 to 100 feet and had good
down stream current for the most part. There were not a lot of
good places to get out for a lunch stop. I only saw one small sandy
beach area which was about 2.5 hours after we put on. Most of the
banks are lined with trees, roots and grass.

January
15, 2010
By Dickie Tillman