January 15, 2011

place, time and date:  Most of us met at Rainbow Springs
campground parking lot around 09:00 am, signed waivers and drove or
carpooled the 57 miles to Weeki Wachee Springs.   It was
probably about 10:45 when we arrived at Weeki Wachee Springs.

in:  Canoe/kayak access to the Weeki Wachee Springs and River
is behind the Weeki Wachee amusement park which located at 6131
Commercial Way (US 19) Spring Hill, FL 34606.  We did not
actually get on the water until about 12:00 due to the large group,
setting shuttle, etc. There is an outfitter there named
Paddling Adventures.  Access to the outfitter and river is
through the gate on the back left side of the Weeki Wachee Springs
Amusement Area parking lot. If you set your own shuttle and
leave vehicles at the put in they should be left outside the gate as
the outfitter locks the gate at 03:00 pm.   

out:  Take out is Rogers Park and boat ramp just off
Shoal Line Blvd/ Co Rd 597.  Most of the group had arrived at
the take out by around 04:00 pm making the trip about 4 hours on the

distance:  Approximately 6 miles
distance:   Approximately 8 miles
notes and comments (paddlers, good stuff, bad stuff, river level,
lunch stop, etc):   

is a $5 per person river access fee at the put in and  $2
parking fee at Rogers Park.

had a very large group of paddlers. I think there were 20 of
us and in a variety of canoes, touring kayaks, sit on tops and sea kayaks. The paddlers included John Sellers, Mike & Jake Collins,
Lamar Phillips, Brannen Proctor, Eric Kardon, Dick Polmatier, Sunny
Waller, Judy Hezlitt, Becky Rentz, Katie O’Neill, Sandy Smith, Don
Parker, Matt & Mary Carroll, Paul Smith, Jamie Higgins, Dan &
Elise MacIntyre, Mark & Cindy Holmberg and myself.   We did
not intentionally plan on splitting up after we put on the river but
the group did get split up.   I ended up in one of the slower
groups. Fortunately everyone arrived at the take out
before any of the early group left for the campground, thus easing
the mind of the trip leader.

weather was relatively nice for the trip with the daytime high in the
upper 60s. It started out cloudy and cool, later turned sunny
and warm then cloudy and cool again before we got to the take out. 

Manatee Mom and Calf
group that I with was in saw a mother manatee and calf about 1/2 mile
below the put in. We stopped for lunch about 1/2 mile
after seeing the manatees. Our lunch stop was on a sunny
grassy bank that looked like it would be a good place for alligator
habitat but we did not see any. While we were having
lunch the large manatee and  calf came slowly swimming
downstream allowing several of us to get some good photos. We
saw 3 more manatees about 1/2 mile before we got to the take out. This was at a large deep hole in the river. We saw manatees
here last year.  

Wachee springs and river is a beautiful beginner level run with
crystal clear water most of the way. I highly recommend
paddling it if your in the area and have the time.   There are
very few houses or signs of human habitat until you near the end of
the run.   The river is relatively shallow which allows the
paddler to see lots of fish, although we did not see a lot of bird
life. Most of the banks are lined with trees or dense
vegetation making it somewhat difficult to find good stopping place
for a large group.   We did see a couple of power boats on the
narrow & shallow upper portion of the run and one sheriff deputy
on a jet ski. Be sure to check and obey the rules if you plan
a trip.

link below is for photos with comments on the Weeki Wachee run.