The Weekiwachee Preserve is part of a regional system of conservation lands that extend up to Crystal River Buffer Preserve, preserving the southernmost coastal hardwood hammock in western Florida. The preserve provides a rich mosaic of habitats including several miles of Weeki Wachee River frontage, portions of the Mud River, dense hardwood swamps, freshwater and saltwater marshes, and pine-covered sandhills. The preserve is best known for its Florida black bear population. The bears are shy, elusive and pose no threat to people, spending most of their time deep in the forest.
In 2001, the District purchased the property surrounding the first-magnitude Weeki Wachee Spring from the city of St. Petersburg. The acquisition was in support of former Governor Bush’s “springs Initiative,” under which strategies were established for the protection and restoration of Florida’s springs, including placing them in public ownership. On November 1, 2008, the District entered into a lease agreement with the Florida Parks Service for their management of the property as a state park.
Public ownership protects the wetlands’ natural functions of conveying spring water to the gulf, cleansing surface water and providing flood protection, as well as buffering nearby residential communities from tropical storms.
- 5.5 miles of bicycling on dirt lanes and paved road.
- 1.3-mile paved road adjoining the Osowaw Boulevard entrance.
- Florida law requires bicyclists under 16 to wear helmets.
- Site 69 on west section of Great Florida Birding Trail.
- Contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for more information.
Boating and Paddling
- Lakes open to hand-launched boats, canoes and kayaks.
- Electric trolling motors allowed.
- Gas-powered outboards not allowed.
- Use caution launching boats – banks can be unstable. Do not back vehicles or trailers onto bank.
- Boats must be carried to the lake – there is no boat ramp.
- Numerous lakes inhabited by both freshwater and saltwater species. Caution: banks can be unstable.
- Contact FWC for license requirements.
- 5.5-mile unpaved trail and paved road.
- 4.3 miles of marked, scenic woods roads.
- Limited picnic facilities in park.
Access and Parking
- Enter on foot or bicycle from Shoal Line or Osowaw Boulevard main entrance.
- ADA access and facilities available.