Weeki Wachee River: Weeki Wachee Spring to The Gulf of Mexico is a 5.5 mile point-to-point trail located near Spring Hill, FL that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for canoeing and sea kayaking and is accessible year-round.
Maybe the clearest rivers ever! Great paddling and almost always have seen at least one Matinee. Upper deck is a good place to eat at the end of the ride. Last mile can be a little bit harder if the tide is coming in so save a little extra for the end.
Hands down, my favorite place to canoe/kayak in the entire state of Florida. Granted, I haven't been *everywhere*, but as a lifelong Floridian, I've gone out on my fair share of paddles on all kinds of bodies of water--the gulf, rivers, and lakes.
Just behind Weeki Wachee Springs, there's a small parking lot where you can haul your canoe down to the put-in. There's also an outfitter there where you can rent a canoe or kayak for the average going rate. The employees there are super friendly, but be warned: THEY WILL CHECK YOUR COOLER. I took one can of beer because there's nothing better than a nice cold beer on a beautiful afternoon on the river. Sadly, it was confiscated. I get it, though, gotta keep people safe and keep the river clean.
For the first part of the trip, you won't be permitted to swim just yet. Once you pass the clearly marked sign, you'll have the green light to go ahead and swim if you want. The water on the first part of this river is so clear and gorgeous. There are areas on the river that are mostly shade and areas that there is a great deal of sun exposure. I'd recommend some good sunscreen. There are a number of sandy areas where you can pull off and have some lunch. A little over the halfway point, you'll see a rope swing that goes out over a deep area in the river. I've seen some cool stunts there. Be careful though--it's easy to slip going up that tree. You'll see a fair amount of wildlife. Each time I've been out, I've see a number of birds, turtles and even manatees on the latter end of the trip! Toward, the end, the water deepens, slows, and darkens. There is a take-out there at Rogers Park that is very convenient.
If you're thinking of going out on the river for an afternoon of paddling, I highly recommend this location!
I have not done the salt water part but the fresh water part was a joy. We saw snakes, birds, deer and small animals. It was a beautiful day and the river was high. The current took us down quicker than I would have liked because it was so pleasant on the river.
This is one of those clear-flowing Spring Streams that are Florida's lesser-known delights. You can drink from the water until you reach the saltwater tidal flow; it's that clean. The flow is gentle and speeds you along nicely. It has two distinct characters; from the Weeki Wachee spring to the shoreline highway is freshwater and shady. while from the highway to the Gulf is saltwater, exposed marshland, with no escape from the sun.
You may put in your own kayak or canoe where the canoe rental business has its building, behind the Mermaid Show attraction, or simply rent one there. Takeout is at a state park where the river crosses the highway by the Gulf.
The freshwater half has many fine swimming spots, miniature sandbar beaches, and coves where you may easily be lucky enough to encounter a manatee family and play with them. Keep an eye out for otters also!
Personally, though, I prefer the saltwater half. If one paddles it at high tide, there are channels through the grass that weave an enchanting labyrinth through hammocks and sloughs.