With exciting activities like airboat tours, fishing charters, swimming with manatees and even harvesting your own scallops all available within a short drive of the Villages of Citrus Hills, residents can easily find themselves with a full plate of new and exciting opportunities.
However, sometimes the most enjoyable activities are the simple ones that have been delighting local residents for generations.
One of the most overlooked water activities in the area is the relaxing experience of paddling your own kayak down the untouched natural beauty of the Withlacoochee River. This has been a popular adventure for years, and it is still a great experience for nature lovers from all over Florida.
The Withlacoochee River Paddling Trail
The Withlacoochee River Paddling Trail is comprised of the 76 miles of river that flows from Lacoochee Park all the way to Dunnellon. The trail contains 18 different access points that are located in five different counties along its path. There are also multiple locations for lunch breaks and campgrounds along the way.
Because the river is calm, the trail is considered easy to moderate paddling, so no experience is necessary for you to feel perfectly comfortable making your way down the Withlacoochee River. True beginners will appreciate that the 18 different access points will enable them to custom select the exact length of their trip.
As you travel down the river, you will likely notice that it is broken into three distinct sections. In the upper section, you will notice high banks and a narrow river. As you proceed into the middle section, you will notice the banks becoming less defined and the surrounding swamp becoming denser. When you make your way into the lower section of the river you will again see more defined banks and less swamp.
Kayak Rentals & Guides
Since many local residents don’t own their own kayaks, or have means to transport them, there are many different businesses located along the Withlacoochee River Paddling Trail that can help you plan your next kayak trip and rent you all the equipment you need to make it a success.
If you are looking to explore the upper section of the river, Nobleton Outpost rents kayaks and canoes in that area. They have planned trips that range from 2-4 hours and are able to take care of all of the logistics of dropping and picking up the boats for you.
At the lower section of the river, there are a number of businesses in Dunnellon that will transport you as far up the river as you like and drop you off so that you can float back to their locations. These businesses are also able to tell you exactly how long it will take to complete your adventure and equip you with everything you will need to complete it safely.
This option allows you to experience paddling through the crystal clear spring water of the Rainbow River.
Rainbow River paddling trips generally start at Rainbow Springs State Park. From there, paddlers will make their way back to Dunnellon. Most of the kayak rental companies in Dunnellon allow you to park there and take a shuttle to the beginning of the river.
The Florida Trail Adventure Combo
If you are interested in creating a nature excursion that combines trail hiking with your paddling adventure, there is seven-mile hiking trail along the Withlacoochee River that connects the Hog Island Recreation Area with the River Junction Recreation Area. This means that you can paddle from River Junction to Hog Island and then hike back to River Junction to retrieve your vehicle and go pick up your boat.
Regardless of how long you would like your paddling trip to be, or how much experience you have, there is an appropriate trip that can be designed for just about anyone along the Withlacoochee Paddling Trail.
The feeling of slowly floating down the river is a relaxing experience like nothing else!