The Wekiva River is one of only two federally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers in the entire state of Florida. It’s also designated a State Paddling Trail, an Outstanding Florida Water and an Aquatic Preserve. Nearly its entire 16-mile length lies within protected boundaries. In short, the Wekiva is perhaps the most pristine river in all of Florida.
This magnificent river starts at Wekiwa Springs State Park. The springs and main pool are beautiful, flowing under a footbridge before becoming the Wekiva River. Rental canoes and kayaks are available at the park. If you’re launching your own, take note that it’s a bit of a hike from the parking lot to the launch point.
Of course, there are several other launch points along the Wekiva River. One of my favorites is Katie’s Landing in the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. Launching here couldn’t be any more convenient, as you can drive to within 10 feet of the river. This park is about midway between Wekiwa Springs State Park and the St. Johns River, the Wekiva’s final destination.
Katie’s Landing is a great little park in and of itself, with huge live oaks draped in Spanish moss, a large stand of bamboo and cypress trees at water’s edge. But the real adventure starts on the river. I’ve paddled both upstream and downstream from here. Either way is beautiful, but downstream gives a sense of being more remote.
Check out the Photo Gallery and video (below) for both paddles. Wherever you choose to start your trip on this great American river, you’re sure to be impressed. Every paddle is a step back in time, leaving the hustle and bustle of Orlando’s busy I-4 corridor far behind. I strongly recommend placing the Wild & Scenic Wekiva River high on your Bucket List.