Locations

Weedon Island Preserve Florida

paddling through mangrove tunnels

Location:

Weedon Island Preserve Florida is in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and is a 20-minute drive from Tampa or downtown Saint Petersburg.

Part of the traditional territories of Seminole, Tocobaga, Mascogo & Miccosukee nations.

The area is over 3,000 acres of natural habitat where you can hike, fish, paddle, picnic or learn about the culture and history.

Admission is free but donations are welcome.

Read about the full history of the area here.

Parking:

Parking is free however there are limited spots close to the canoe/kayak launch.  Approx 14 spots with 1 accessible parking spot.

If you aren’t lucky enough to get a parking spot close to the launch there is plenty of room to drop off your gear and then find parking back up the road or at the Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History Center. Be prepared to walk 1/4 a mile (800m) back to the launch.

    Weedon Island Preserve Entrance sign

    Weedon Island Preserve entrance sign

    Canoe and kayak launch

    Launch: 

    The dock launch for paddlers only is located approx 1.5 miles (2.4 km)  from the preserve entrance at the end of Weedon Dr. NE.

    There is plenty of room to drop off and unload at the roundabout at the end of Weedon Dr. NE.

    The area by the launch has toilets, a pier for fishing or viewing wildlife and is equipt with a rinsing station for after your paddle.

    Weedon Island parking lot by canoe and kayak launch

    Parking (left) close to the canoe & kayak  launch

    dock launch
    washrooms and fishing pier beside launch

    Bathrooms beside fishing pier and launch

    Fresh water rinsing post paddle

    Post paddle rinse station

    Weedon Island Preserve Paddle Adventure Vlog

     Weather:

    Check the tides. It’s best to go at mid to high tide.

    You are mostly protected but the wind will play a small role when outside of the mangrove forest. It’s best to go when winds are under 15 mph (24 kph). Learn how to read the wind for paddle boarding.

    Florida’s sun can be extremely hot and strong. Pack lots of water and sun protection.

    Route:

    Launching from the canoe/kayak docks head east to find the South Paddling Trail through the mangrove tunnels. The paddling trail is 4 miles (6.4km), takes approximately 3 hours and is labelled making it easy to follow. You don’t have to commit to the entire trail. There are areas in-between the mangroves to turn around. 

    Tips: 

    • Go early to get a parking spot near the canoe/kayak launch and take in a full day of activities in the area.
    • Don’t worry about alligators. This area is part of the bay and therefore filled with salty waters. Gators prefer freshwater rivers and lakes. That said, there is a chance an alligator could find its way into the preserve but it would be a rare occurance. 
    • Don’t have a kayak, canoe or paddle board? No problem. Rent from ECOmerson or book a tour.  
    • Pack a snack/lunch to enjoy along the way. There is a picnic spot you can pull off the water between markers 9 and 14. Check out the YouTube video to see what it’s like. 
    • Make a day of it.
    • Don’t forget your PFD and other safety equipment
      weedon island preserve south paddling trail signs through the mangroves

      South Paddling Trail mangrove tunnel signs

      paddling through the mangrove forest

      Overall: 

      • This is a free, beautiful and accessible area close to Tampa and St. Pete’s.
      • The mangrove tunnels are extensive and the longest I’ve ever seen.
      • You won’t find any boaters here which is a big plus for paddling the gulf waters in Florida.

      Other Resources: 

      Spread the love

      2 Comments

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *