Camping, hiking, boating, freshwater and saltwater fishing; a full range of outdoor activities are available at the District’s Chassahowitzka River and Coastal Swamps property in southwestern Citrus County.
Purchased in the early 1990s, the property is part of a large greenway of public lands that protects the Chassahowitzka Swamp ecosystem and wildlife resources. The Chassahowitzka River’s headwaters, tributaries and springs are known locally for their great sport fishing and crabbing.
A restoration project will begin at the head spring in May, and is expected to be completed in September. Hydraulic dredging will remove sand, silt, muck and debris, and will help improve water quality and habitat in the springs.
The vast expanse of salt marsh, hardwood swamps, crystal-clear springs and river are a canoeist’s paradise. The river has been designated an Outstanding Florida Water by the state of Florida. The river is shallow and best suited for shallow draft boats. Boaters should keep track of tides to avoid getting stranded.
There are two entrances available to access District-owned portions of the Chassahowitzka area. Hikers can gain access from Burnt Bridge Road off U.S. 19 through the Withlacoochee Forest-Homosassa Wildlife Management Area. Hikers will find dense, forested wetlands and a two-mile network of old logging roads. The roads are not maintained or marked, and hikers should be prepared for wet crossings at several narrow washouts. This area provides great fishing opportunities as well at two small artificial lakes and at the stream near the footbridge.
The Citrus County Parks and Recreation Department operates the Chassahowitzka River Campground and Recreation Area at the head springs, the main entrance to the property. Boat rentals, a boat launch and a camp store are available at the campground. The camping area has 80 full-service campsites with various levels of amenities, including electricity, sewer, water, tables, grills and fire rings. Group campsites are also available. A bathhouse with showers is located at the campground, as well as laundry facilities, a shuffleboard court and a picnic pavilion. Birdwatchers will enjoy the Chassahowitzka River Trail, Site 51 on the western section of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
Each issue of WaterMatters features a different District property ready for you to explore. These public lands are close to home and are free or very inexpensive to use. Find District lands near you at WaterMatters.org/recreation/.