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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fresh or salt, water lures us

Published July 11, 2008
...here are some suggestions for enjoying the great outdoors in Hernando.

Swimming
Rogers Park
7244 Shoal Line Blvd.
Summer hours are sunrise to sunset. Parking is $2 per car.
Visit http://www.co.hernando.fl.us/parks_rec or call Call (352) 754-4027.

Although primarily known for providing boating access to the Weeki Wachee River, the 3-acre Rogers Park has a nice freshwater swimming and beach area that is set aside from boat-launching sites.

Buccanneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs
U.S. 19 and State Road 50, Weeki Wachee. Daily summer hours though Aug. 17 are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (352) 596-2062 or visit http://www.weekiwachee.com

Billed as Florida's only spring-fed water park.
Impeccably maintained with white sandy beaches, flume rides, a beach volleyball area and a large kiddie pool, it's got everything you need for a fun family day — for a price. Cost is $24.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids 3 to 10, plus tax, and includes admission to the historic Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid attraction.



Canoeing and kayaking
Nobleton Outpost
29295 Lake Lindsey Road (CR 476), 12 miles northeast of Brooksville. Outpost is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Monday (currently closed through July 18).
Call (352) 796-7176 or visit http://www.nobletonoutpost.com

Those with a taste for small adventures can take a leisurely two- to four-hour canoe or kayak ride down the Withlacochee River using either your own vessel or one of the outpost's. The Nobleton Outpost is a laid-back place that welcomes pets and motorcycles. There's even a friendly little pub/cafe on the premises that serves great inexpensive seafood, Cuban sandwiches and salads. Canoe and kayak rentals run from $35 to $45.

Weeki Wachee Canoe and Kayak Rentals
behind the Weeki Wachee Springs attraction, U.S. 19 and State Road 50. Daily launches are from 9 and 11:30 a.m. during the week and from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on weekends. Call (352) 597-0360 or visit http://www.floridacanoe.com

A tad more challenging than its counterpart on the east side of the county, the Weeki Wachee River flows with the gusto of 64-million gallons of crystal clear water every day, making the 7-mile journey downstream a joyous three-hour journey through rare pristine wilderness. Cost is $52 for a two-person canoe or kayak and $37 for a one-seater, and includes pickup. If you want to launch your own vessel, it's $10 per boat, and you have to find your own way off the river.

Nobleton Wayside Park
29061 Lamkin Drive. Hours are sunrise to sunset. Call (352) 754-4027 or visit http://www.co.hernando.fl.us/parks_rec

Here's a way to do your kayaking or canoeing on the cheap. A free boat ramp gives you access to the Withlacoochee River and a 13-mile journey through the neighboring Withlacoochee State Forest, where you will see an abundance of wild critters and birds. Afterward, you can come back to the 2-acre park and enjoy a quiet lunch under one of the shelters.



Boating and Fishing
Jenkins Creek Park
6401 Shoal Line Blvd. (about 5 miles west of U.S. 19), north of Hernando Beach. Hours are sunrise to sunset. Call (352) 754-4027 or visit http://www.co.hernando.fl.us/parks_rec

The main attraction at this park, in the middle of one of Hernando County's prime fishing areas, is the natural freshwater springs that feed into canals and coastal marshes leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Shallow areas in and around the park are the perfect habitat for crabs and baitfish. Boaters should be aware that the tiny 1-acre park is limited to small boats, personal watercraft and canoes.
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