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The Weedon Island Canoe Trail

By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000


photo
[Times photo: Jonathan Newton]
A mangrove canopy opens into a large pool at the Weedon Island Canoe Trail.
This 1,046-acre park has some of the best fishing and canoeing in the state. The 4-mile canoe trail will show you Weedon at its wildest. The mangrove islands and narrow passes will challenge paddlers of all skill levels. Accomplished paddlers will finish the trail in two hours but plan for three if you want to stop and enjoy the sights.

Weedon's new Paul Getting Memorial Trail is 1.27 miles of boardwalk that takes hikers deep into the mangroves to observation platforms and a tower. Amateur naturalists can spend a lifetime trying to document a myriad of species: 104 different fish, 26 butterflies, 34 reptiles and 130 birds.

But to keep the preserve pristine, access is limited. No more than 282 people are allowed inside at a time, and no more than 1,128 people can use the park during any given day. The park opens at 7 a.m. and closes at sunset. Admission is free.

To access the canoe trail, launch next to the fishing pier at the end of Weedon Drive, the dirt road leading into the preserve. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat because it can get hot. Insect repellent also is recommended.

Every fall, Tampa BayWatch sponsors a canoe and kayak race through the preserve called the Weedon Island Power Paddle. The event is scheduled for Oct. 21. Call (727) 896-5320.

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