Weeki Wachee River Trip Report

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Ted & Joanne Wendel | VCKC
Published Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Date: 26 October 2004

Location: Weeki Wachee River

Number of Paddlers: 30 (Rentals: 10 canoes, 5 single kayaks and 4 private boats)

Reference Used: Prior trip report (March 2004)

Travel Time From Publix Shopping Center: 70 miles or 1 1/2 hrs. The main body departed at 0800 and arrived at the Canoe Rental at 0930. Directions were good and no one that I know of got lost.

Trip Length: 6 1/2 miles or just over 2 ½ hrs. Put in water at approx 0930 and arrived at Take-Out (Christian Campgrounds) at 1150 hrs.

Boat Rentals:

Weeki Wachee Canoe Rental (352) 597-0360 and website www.floridacanoe.com has sufficient number of canoes and kayaks (single and tandem) for our club. Their rental for our trip (exclusive of tax) was $33 per canoe and double kayak and $24 for single kayak (add tax) and included shuttle service from take-out (Christain Landing). They charged private boat owners $5 for Put-In and $10 for shuttle service. Please note that rental rates will increase a couple of dollars in 2005. They had Old Towne canoes that were in excellent condition, had molded seats and included back supports, the canoes were very comfortable. Like our last experience, we found the outfitter to be a very efficient, clean and courteous operation. Their shuttle van held about 10 to 12 passengers and was a ten-minute trip back to the outfitter. The outfitter, at the end of the trip, commented on how quickly we paddle - this is a comment I have heard frequently and I am not sure if they have formed an impression of retirees or that we do complete our trips quickly.

Air Temperature and Weather Conditions:

It was a beautiful late October day and a perfect day to be on the water. The air temperature at the time of Put-In was in the mid-70s and only rose to 80 for the majority of the trip. The sky was clear with no clouds (that I noticed), with very low humidity and a great breeze.

The River and Terrain:

I had forgotten just how beautiful this river is. You paddle left from the Put-in and the scenery and clarity of the river hits you quickly. For most of the trip, you feel that you are floating over a river of glass. The current was swift throughout the trip, and it straight runs, it made for an easy paddle. The Weeki Wachee is not a wide river and I would estimate that for a little more than half the length of our trip, was free of signs of riverside homes. We were told that the Weeki Wachee escaped most of the damage done by the hurricanes that swept through over the past 2 months. The water level was not noticeably higher than I recalled from our last trip on it, perhaps the current was a tad faster, we did notice signs of freshly cut trees and limbs but we encountered no major obstructions. At the end of the trip, the Outfitter told me that he had his crew clear the water and he could not wait for the State. The water depth ranged from inches to as much as 10 or more feet - but for the most part was relatively shallow. Overhanging trees provided a canopy of protection from the sun for perhaps half the trip - it also added to a wilderness feeling. During the early portion of the trip, road traffic noise was apparent.

The river was not overly wide and there were few channels. Instructions were always to stay left. At about the half waypoint, there were two put-ins for lunch/swim stops. At the first one we paddled by a club member who took advantage of the beautiful spring fed water, and enjoyed a swim. The majority of members stopped at the second spot (photos attached). After this stop, we passed more and more homes on the river. The sign for the Take Out was as explained by the livery, it was clearly visible and following their instructions the take out ramp was on the right side of the river. The Take Out is just a few canoe lengths before the Christian Camp sign.

The river is rated for those with beginner skills and that is mostly correct, however, at times, the river offers some challenges to avoid being swept into overhanging branches or into obstructions. I was not aware of anyone having problems that they couldn't overcome.

Wildlife Sightings:

At the start of the trip, we saw Snow Egerts nesting in a few trees and a Wood Stork in a nest in a large tree after that was hit or miss. A 4 to 5 foot snake, possibly a cottonmouth, swam across the river immediately in front of our canoe, and I remember the warning given by our club president and the fears of one member regarding snakes. It is always exciting to see Florida's wildlife, especially the deadly types, but never ever touch! At one point the people in the boat ahead of us pointed to the river and told us that there were Manatees in the water (See photo). My wife and I had never seen one on a paddle, so this was very exciting. They are so perfectly camouflaged that we would easily have missed seeing them, as they appeared to be another submerged tree stump or clump of vegetation. We did not notice much fish life but we did pass-by a few large schools of fair sized fish but could not identify them.

Group Enjoyment and Difficulty Rating:

There were many new club members on this trip and I overheard comments of how great this trip was and how much they enjoyed it. How could you not! I would continue to recommend this trip to those with basic paddling skills - what a great introduction to Florida rivers and our club goal to offer rewarding trips to its members. This is certainly an outfitter and trip to remember for when you have visitors who are looking for a place to explore during their stay.

Ted & Joanne Wendel

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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