Rainbow / Withlacoochee River Trip Report

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Published Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Date: August 28, 2007
Number of Paddlers: 36, including 6 canoes and 9 single yaks rented, plus private boats.

Travel Time: The trip from Mulberry Center to Goldendale boat ramp in Dunnellon was about 45 minutes with no difficulties or delays. Limited parking made car pooling a necessity on this trip. We had just enough spaces to fill the parking area.

Boat Rentals:

Boats and shuttle service were provided by Nathan at Rainbow River Canoe and Kayak. All equipment was in good shape, and his service was excellent. This was a special trip just for our club. He doesn't ordinarily do a shuttle to/from Goldendale. The shuttle took paddlers and boats to K.P. Hole for the 9 mile run back to Goldendale. After Gary paid the group admission fee at KP Hole, and a briefing from Nate on the rivers and directions, we were on our way.

Weather Conditions:

Weather was hot; but some cloud cover and a canopy of shade trees along the Rainbow made it comfortable for most of the trip. Comments suggested that the trip was just long enough as it was really starting to heat up as we reached the take-out point (12:30-1:00).

The River & Terrain:

The Rainbow River is spring fed by some 400-600 million gallons of crystal clear water daily. Beginning at the head springs in Rainbow Springs State Park, the river wanders off to join the Withlacoochee in Dunnellon, somewhat over 5 miles away. A few opted to paddle up stream from KP Hole to the spring head, even though we had 9 miles of paddling ahead of us.

The Rainbow has a dual personality, being a most pristine river, yet one of the more developed ones that we have paddled upon. One side of the river has some beautiful homes and grounds, while the other side is almost entirely undeveloped. There are some older and more congested sections closer to the end, but the beauty of the water and the interesting wildlife make up for this.

Most paddlers took a break at the park where the Rainbow and Withlacoochee meet. Some went for a swim, while others enjoyed the chance to stretch and have a snack in the shaded park.

The remainder of the trip was on the Withlacoochee. The water was clearer than we had anticipated, and in many places you could see into the depths observing fish and other underwater creatures. The on shore environment was similar to the Rainbow, with sections of development on one side and wilderness on the other.

Wildlife Sightings:

This was a great river for wildlife. The crystal clear water on the Rainbow made underwater sightings of fish, turtles and vegetation extraordinary.

We saw river otters, one gator, lots of birds...red tail hawks, ospreys, ibis, tri-color herons, little blue herons, white egrets, moor hens with chicks, and possibly a purple gallinule! One “lucky” couple spotted a water moccasin headed straight for their boat!

Group Enjoyment & Difficulty:

This is a good river for beginners through experienced paddlers, if you follow instructions. We did have one development that gave everyone a scare. At the conclusion of the trip, when all boats were counted, we were missing one canoe. It seems that two gentlemen pulled out ahead of everyone else and made a wrong turn at the intersection of the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers. By the time the rest of our group reached the intersection, they were long gone in the wrong direction. An hour and a half after everyone else finished the paddle they were discovered. The outfitter retrieved them somewhere on the river and eventually got them back to their car. Needless to say it created a lot of anxiety for a couple of hours. It was an unfortunate incident; otherwise, everyone seemed to really enjoy the day's event.

If you are looking for a nice day out with visitors or friends, a combination of a visit to the Rainbow Springs State Park at the head spring for a picnic and trail walk would combine nicely with a canoe rental from the concessionaire at that location.

Post Trip Lunch:

Many people had already left the Charlie Horse restaurant by the time I arrived. However, those who were there told me the lunch and service provided was excellent. The wait staff was very accommodating and friendly, prices and selection were good, and the facility easily accommodated our large group.

For More Information: http://www.therainbowriver.com/mainx.htm

Thanks to all who joined our trip and made it a pleasant day out!

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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