Bennett's Creek Kayak Tour
Gulf to Bennett's via Bird Creek
2-3 hour round trip along the lower Withlacoochee River. Remote, wilderness scenery
with little development visible. Roseate spoonbills can be seen in summer.Bird
Creek/Bennett's Creek Eco-Paddle
While technically beginning in Levy County, the Bird Creek paddle weaves across the
invisible boundary line between Citrus and Levy Counties as one explores portions of
Withlacoochee Bay, Bird Creek, the Withlacoochee River, and Bennett's Creek. Tides
and winds can affect the usability of the Bird Creek Park launch site. An alternative
launch site is located on the banks of the Withlacoochee River just across CR40 from
the park entrance. Locals know it as redneck beach.
From here, some knowledge if the local tides is helpful. During winter low tides, the
water off Bird Creek Park may be non-existent. If this is the case, then the water level
leaving Bennett's Creek and heading back to the launch will also be low. If the tide is
starting to rise, the best route is often up the Withlacoochee, skipping the Bird Creek
section entirely. By the time you start making your way back, hopefully water levels, as
you near the gulf, will have risen enough to allow passage.
You begin the paddle in she shallow waters of Withlacoochee Bay, heading north
before turning back to the east and entering Bird Creek. After a short paddle you will
pass under the Bird Creek bridge on CR 40. This bridge was featured in the 1961 Elvis
Presley Movie entitled Follow That Dream.
Bird Creek winds through marshy island studded with huge cypress snags which make
excellent perches for a variety of bird species. Both osprey and eagle nests can found
along the creek. There are several branches to the creek with the main branch
intersecting the Withlacoochee River after about .75 miles. Continue up the
Withlacoochee watching for manatees and dolphins until you come to the entrance to
Bennett's Creek after approximately another .85 miles.
The upper part of Bennett's Creek will remind you of a primitive forest with its towering
It is hard to believe you are very close to a huge power complex just to your north.
After entering the creek and paddling about .3 mile, look for a cove on the north side.
The mudflats surrounding the cove are alive with fiddler crabs which attract roseate
spoonbills in the warmer months. By late summer and early fall, these migrants have
moved on. The sight of several dozen spoonbills perched in the trees is truly one of
the treasures of the trails.
As you leave the spoonbills behind, the tree canopy gives way to more open salt
marsh. While present all year, some of the biggest alligators in these parts are more
active in summer and more likely to be seen sunning themselves along the banks. As
with all wildlife, keep your distance.
Nearer the gulf, the creek opens up as you approach east pass and your route home.
Chambers Island is the large land mass between you and the Withlacoochee River. The
island was the location of large commercial port know as Port Inglis with over 34
buildings. Today, nature has taken it back and little evidence of the bustling port is still
Port Inglis Island was the world’s largest shipping port of phosphate in 1902. WW1
stopped the shipping. The old mouth of the river originally flowed behind the island
into what was called Bungalow Bay but later a channel was cut directly west. Around
1875 John Chambers', Chambers Mill Point saw mill was the largest one on the west
coast of Florida, giving the island the dual name of Chambers Island.
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Withlacoochee/Benett's Creek/Bird Creek