Withlacoochee River South, Florida (May 1992)

I kayak at the OTHER Withlacoochee River (in central Florida). It is both exhilarating and a physical ordeal. Exhilarating because it is one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen, and contains an outstanding diversity of wildlife. We see alligators, many species of wading birds, hawks, 2 bald eagles, turtles, snakes, large fish, and even a wild horse. The river is very wild and undeveloped, and passes through several publicly-owned wilderness areas. The ordeal is that instead of a 4-hour float like the other Withlacoochee, this ride takes 7 hours, and is difficult for me because my kayak is designed for white water—which makes it difficult to hold a straight line. Instead, I am forced to stop and start each of the numerous times the kayak turns. It becomes an exhausting trial and tribulation. We are also hampered by air boats, which are the most obnoxious machines I have EVER experienced. They apparently use airplane engines to drive the propellers, and as a result, it seems as if you are standing in the middle of an airport runway each time one screams and shrieks by. It is appalling to think the state allows such obscenities on the Everglades. In any event, though, the river is so impressive that I'm sure to go back, air boats or no air boats. Next trip will be on a stretch just downstream, where there are numerous sinkholes I understand are outstanding for swimming.

The south Withlacoochee is over 100 miles long with 84 miles of good canoeing trail. The trail is a combination of rather developed areas and beautiful wilderness areas. It begins in cypress and hardwood swamp (The Green Swamp) and progresses through upland hardwood, pine forest, cypress ponds, and palmetto hammocks.

Much of the river passes through the Withlacoochee State Forest. The river flows north for its100 miles, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown.



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