The Nature Coast Canoe Trail is a twenty-mile coastal marsh trail through the beautiful coastal planes of the St. Martins Aquatic Preserve and the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. It is made up of sawgrass marsh, tidal waters, hammocks, oyster bars and shell mounds. Most of the trail is only accessible by canoe and kayak.
The Citrus County Nature Coast Canoe Trail is a designated Great Florida Birding Trail. To enjoy the best birding, the recommendation is to take short trips. There are three recommended places to start your trip on the Nature Coast Canoe Trail. One may start at any of these points and go to the next point or return to the starting point. The Trail is well marked with numbered canoe trail signs.
Fort Island Trail Park on the Crystal River to John Brown Road off Ozello Trail. Follow the Crystal River west for a short distance to the Salt River; follow the Salt River down Dixie Bay to John Brown Road and Ozello Trail Road. The distance is about five miles.
John Brown Road to Homosassa River. The Trail continues south on the Salt River through Greenleaf Bay, Game Creek Bay and Silver Bay to the Homosassa River. The Distance is 5 miles.
Homosassa River to Mason Creek. The Homosassa River public boat landing is a short distance east of the Trail. The Trail crosses the Homosassa River to Battle Creek and continues south on the third leg of the Trail down on Battle Creek to Mason Creek. The trail hooks up with the Mason Creek Trail at this point.
The Nature Coast Canoe Trail continues south across Mason Creek to Oyster Creek and down Seven Cabbage Cutoff to the Chassahowitzka River and Dog Island. This is the longest leg of the Nature Coast Canoe Trail through the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. It is not recommended for birding because of distance and the low number of birds except waders. It is recommended that you take any of the other designated Great Florida Birding Trails including the above suggestions on the Nature Coast Canoe Trail, the Chassahowitzka Trail, the Mason Creek Trail and the Kings Bay Trail for your birding pleasure.Access to the trail:
Any of the abovementioned put-ins are public boat ramps with plenty of parking space.Hours of Operation:
Dawn to dusk.
The Nature Coast Canoe Trail when birding in a canoe or kayak allows one to get "next" to the birds. Take short trips and enjoy the wonders of our coastal planes.
Be prepared to come equipped for a day on this trail. Once away from any of the put-ins there are no facilities on this trail, so bring water, food, bug repellant, sunscreen and what other needs required. Be sure to pack out material carried in.Birding Opportunities:
While paddling a canoe/kayak, a birder is at the level of the birds and, thus, the birds don't get spooked easily. Forty to fifty bird species can be seen in a morning, including most of the waders, shore birds, pelicans, hawks, eagles, terns and gulls. The best months to bird are October to April.