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Canoeing - Kayaking - Rafting

 

 

Chassahowitzka River FL USA
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Baird Creek - Copyright 2005 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Tim Wilmath, Tampa Florida timwilmath@aol.com
  • Date Submitted: 9/2005
  • Location: just south of Homosassa, Florida USA
  • Class: 1 with tidal currents at times
  • Distance Paddled: 12 miles round trip, from the Chassahowitzka River Campground to the Gulf of Mexico, plus several side trips down creeks
  • Water: fresh water from crystal-clear springs changing to salt water on approach to the Gulf of Mexico. During low water, the river can be shallow in some places, but typically OK for kayaks and canoes.
  • Wildlife: alligators, manatees, raccoons, otters, deer, and many species of birds.
  • Special Regulations: No special regulations, but for additional info call:
    Chassahowitzka River Campground
    8600 Miss Maggie Dr. Chassahowitzka.
    (352) 382-2200
    Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: From the intersection of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98, go west on Highway 480 (Miss Maggie's Drive) 1.7 miles to the end, passing small homes and a lodge. Turn right at signs for the Chassahowitzka River Campground.
  • GPS - (N28.42.892'W82.34.631')
  • Fee: $2.00 parking fee includes a map of the “canoe trail” provided at the store
  • Description: Concrete boat ramp,
  • Parking: adjacent paved
  • Facilities: restrooms, concession, canoe rentals, camping in a wooded campground(primitive or with water and electricity), showers
  • Handicap Access: nothing special

Where We Paddled and What We Saw

The Chassahowitzka River offers wildlife viewing, swimming in springs, and a variety of scenery that makes this one of the most pleasurable kayak trips in Florida. The clear shallow river runs from the head springs through the 30,000 acre Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge to the Gulf of Mexico.

After putting-in at the boat ramp, paddle upstream (east) for about 50 yards to the first of many springs on your adventure. These are the Chassahowitzka Springs. Due to boat traffic, swimming is prohibited here.

Continue upstream for a few hundred yards to the next set of springs. You will notice several holes or "vents" that bubble up from the bottom (photo at left). You can beach your kayak and swim here. Good swimmers, we swam carefully into one hole and traveled through a 5 foot underwater tunnel to emerge at another hole.

After leaving this spring, retrace your route back past the put-in and head down river. Within 100 yards you will see Crab creek (photos at right) located on the north side of the river (river right) on the first of several spring sourced creeks that feed the river. You'll see a beautiful home right on the spring. You can visit the springs, but all surrounding land is private property.

From Crab Creek Springs, kayak downstream along the Chassahowitzka River for approximately 1/2 mile. On your left you will see another creek entrance. You can identify the entrance by a tiny island, complete with palm trees, marking the pathway. (photo at left). This is the mouth of Baird Creek, one of the best parts of this kayak trip! (photo at top of page)

Baird Creek is a narrow, shallow twisty, jungle-like waterway enclosed by sawgrass and over-hanging trees (not wide or deep enough for motorboats!). This canopied waterway offers some tremendous photo and wildlife viewing opportunities.

After paddling about 20 minutes you will come to a large open lagoon, which is Blue Springs. Although a great place to stop and picnic, look for a small "secret" opening on the right that will allow you to continue to "The Crack” a wonderful spring that few people know about (photo at right). If the water is low, you may have to beach your kayak and walk the last 100 feet or so to the spring. On weekdays, you will likely be the only visitors to this great spot (notice my lone kayak in photo). Visiting this spring is at least a one-hour side trip off the Chassahowitzka River (but is well worth it).

After leaving the crack, retrace your route back to the river, and continue downstream.

There are several more creeks that feed the river that lead to additional springs, including Potter springs and Salt Springs.

 

You may want to bypass these side trips to allow time to paddle 2 miles further down river to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) at the mouth of the river on the Gulf of Mexico.

On the way you'll pass a number of abandoned boats and fishing shacks. All are on private property but make great photo opportunities.

Once you paddle past the wildlife refuge welcome sign in the middle of the channel, you will enter tidal creeks and salt marshes. Following the main channel for another 3.5 miles will take you to the Gulf of Mexico.

There is a covered picnic area there that makes a great picnic spot

The Chassahowitzka is a river of striking contrasts, semitropical forest, canopied canoe trail, marsh, and open paddling. This is a great paddling trip for canoers or kayakers!