Florida Kayaking: Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park

Updated on May 11, 2018
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

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Eagerly anticipated for a number of years, the Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park kayak launch is officially open to the public. With a new boardwalk, hiking trails, restroom facilities, a picnic area, and concessions, this park has quickly become a favorite gathering spot to get out on the water and enjoy the diverse ecosystem of Florida’s gulf coast. I recently had an opportunity to kayak through the park and take a look at the facilities, and I am happy to report that it was worth the wait. Everything is top-notch, and it’s easy to envision Werner Boyce Salt Springs Park becoming a very popular kayaking destination on Florida’s Gulf coast.

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The main entrance to Werner Boyce State Park is located just adjacent to the Walmart on Route 19 in New Port Richey. It seems oddly ironic that such a pristine nature preserve can be so close to a Walmart and a busy highway. Rest assured, however, that once you hit the water you will lose all contact with civilization and will be transported to over 3,300 acres of ecological paradise. Werner Boyce State Park contains one of the largest salt flats in the state of Florida and is home to a wide variety of birds, many of them fairly rare even by Florida standards.

Because the park is still in its infancy be advised that you will not find a playground or area for kids to play. Perhaps in the future additional facilities will be added but for the time being, this park is as close to a nature preserve as it can get.

Money can’t buy you happiness - but - it can buy you a kayak - and that’s kind of the same thing

— Unknown

There is another way to access Werner Boyce State Park and that is from Brasher Park. Located just south of Werner Boyce, Brasher Park is an alternative for exploring the Gulf side of Werner Boyce Salt Springs Park and getting a glimpse of or visiting the stilt houses that dot the coast here. You can read my review of launching from Brasher Park here.

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Before heading to Werner Boyce State Park you may want to check the local tide schedule? Due to low water levels in the springs during low tide, the best time to kayak will be around high tide. Generally anytime from a few hours before to a few hours after high tide is optimal. During low tide, some areas of the salt marsh are difficult to navigate due to the low water level and you don’t want to get your kayak grounded. Should your schedule necessitate going during low tide, which is certainly doable, just be aware of the water level and any obstacles that may be in your path?

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If you are bringing your own kayak or canoe be advised that you will have to transport it a few hundred feet to the launch area. There is a brand new raised Trex boardwalk that makes this an easy task. Rollers are also available to assist with this if required. If you are renting a kayak, canoe or paddle board simply check-in and head down the boardwalk to the launch site, which is where the rental kayaks are kept.

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The springs in Werner Boyce State Park are unique in that it is actually salt water that is bubbling to the surface. The source is from a pool of seawater that is trapped 320 feet below the earth’s surface.

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Once in the water, you have a few options for which direction to head. If you want to see the springs you will need to head to the right. There are signs to direct you. There are two springs that you can get close to and you can actually see the spring water bubbling to the surface. Your journey to the springs will take you through the salt marsh and it is dotted with numerous inlets, small ponds, and canals. This is a great fishing spot and also a wonderful area for viewing some of the coastal birds and animals that reside here. The park is home to a bald eagle nest and birdwatchers will enjoy seeing the Roseate Spoonbill as well as hawks, osprey, egrets, heron, ibis, and other local and migratory birds. While out on the water you may also encounter dolphins that frequent the area. This really is a nature lover’s paradise and it is all easily accessible now that the kayak launch and facilities have opened to the public.

Blue Heron
Blue Heron | Source

After exploring the salt marsh you will have to retrace your steps and head back toward the launch area. From here you can continue toward the gulf. This part of the park has more open water so the kayaking is a little different from the inlets and canals of the salt marsh. This is actually the area where we have seen the Roseate Spoonbill, which is quite an exciting sight. With more open water and lines of sight, you may also catch a glimpse of a blue heron, snowy egret, osprey, or even a bald eagle searching for its next meal. And if you’re lucky perhaps you will even get to see the playful dolphins that frequent this part of the gulf, wouldn’t that just make your day?

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Werner Boyce State Park is easy to get to and has plenty of parking to accommodate vehicles with trailers. If you need to rent a kayak or canoe the rentals are managed by Paddling Adventures. This highly-respected outfit can also be found at other kayaking locations in the area including Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

Paddling Adventures
Paddling Adventures | Source

Paddling Adventure Rental Rates

Single Kayak:

  • 2 Hours: $22
  • 4 Hours: $32
  • All Day: $45

Tandem Kayak:

  • 2 Hours: $30
  • 4 Hours: $45
  • All Day: $58

Stand-up Paddleboard:

  • 2 Hours: $30
  • 4 Hours: $45
  • All Day: $58

If you plan to explore just the salt marsh, inlets, and springs area then two hours should be plenty of time. Heading out to the Gulf of Mexico will require additional time so keep this in mind when renting.

Handicap accessible restroom facilities
Handicap accessible restroom facilities | Source

Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park Hours and Fees:

Park Hours:

  • Park is open daily from 8 am to sunset.
  • Kayak rentals are available from 8 am to 5:30 pm daily. Rentals are due back by 5 pm.

Park Fees:

  • Pedestrian or bicycle: $2
  • A vehicle with up to 8 occupants: $3

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When you are done on the water you may want to consider spending some time checking out the park’s hiking trails? Werner Boyce State Park has a number of trails that are easy to traverse and they offer an abundance of scenery and photographic opportunities. From the park’s main entrance along route 19, you will find the short Eagle Trail and the half-mile-long Salt Springs Trail. There are a few other entry points into the park that offer hiking options including the Black Rail Trail and the Scenic Drive Loop Trail. Both of these trails are located in more remote parts of the park and offer easy and scenic hiking options.

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The west coast of Florida certainly offers up some wonderful kayaking opportunities and Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park is bound to become a popular destination. We make it a point to try and discover a new and interesting location to hit the water on our every visit to Florida so stay tuned for our next discovery.

show route and directions
A markerWerner Boyce Salt Springs State Park -
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, 8737 US Highway 19 North, Port Richey, FL 34668, USA
get directions

B markerBrasher Park -
Brasher Park, Port Richey, FL 34668, USA
get directions

Questions & Answers

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      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        7 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you Dianna. We visit this area of Florida often as we have family there. We try to find a new place to go kayaking every time we are there. Love the quote also.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        7 weeks ago

        Sounds like an adventure worth the cost and travel. The quote is priceless and I'm sure many kayak lovers would find it true.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        8 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        To be honest Suhail I don't think it matters. They have never had an incident at Werner Boyce with an alligator that I am aware of. And the times that I have seen gators I have been in a kayak and they ignored us. I think unless you provoke them they will pretty much keep to themselves. The advantage of a kayak is that they are more maneuverable than a canoe. Pretty much anywhere in Florida where there is freshwater could be alligator habitat. They can also be found in brackish water, which I suppose Werner Boyce could be considered seeing as it connects to the gulf.

      • Suhail and my dog profile image

        Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

        8 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON

        So the park lies in alligator habitat/range? I am just wondering whether a canoe rather than a kayak will make a better pedaling alternative.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        8 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Suhail. Thank you. I suppose there is a chance of seeing an alligator in the park. On our visit we did not although we have seen them on kayaking trips in other parks in Florida. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

      • Suhail and my dog profile image

        Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

        8 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON

        Hi Bill,

        This is an excellent article introducing a park to my full taste. However, I would think that there is a possibility of a chance encounter with an alligator. Am I correct?

        Because of kayaking and canoeing, it seems to be a tailor made park for my family :-)

        Regards,

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        8 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Heidi. Thank you. It’s a beautiful park, and right off of busy route 19 and behind a Walmart. Go figure? When you are there you are a world away from civilization.

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 

        2 months ago from Chicago Area

        This area looks lovely! I'll have to remember it for a future trip to Florida. Always love your photos!

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Liz. Thank you. The more trips we make to Florida the more we discover interesting parks in the most unlikely places. With Werner-Boyce once you drive into the park you have no idea how close civilization is. Despite the surprising location I must say it is nice to have these parks to enjoy and get away from the chaos of civilization. Have a great day.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        I was a little surprised by the entrance near Walmart too. This is a very interesting and informative article, packed with great illustrations.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Natalie. I have found that many of the most interesting parks in Florida seem to be in the most unlikely locations. Werner Boyce is no different with a Walmart right next to the park entrance.

        Kayaking in the open water of the gulf is a much different experience than kayaking on a meandering river. The currents, wind, chop, etc. can make it difficult. From the launch site straight out to the gulf is about a twenty minute trip. We have kayaked in the gulf a few times on very calm days and even then it is more difficult.

        Being right on Lake Michigan I imagine you might have some pretty good kayaking options available to you. Check it out, you might find that you enjoy it.

      • Natalie Frank profile image

        Natalie Frank 

        2 months ago from Chicago, IL

        This seems like a great place to go kayaking. I seem to meet more and more people who kayak and as I live on Lake Michigan I'm starting to think seriously about taking it up. It's odd this waterway is right next to a Walmart and major highway though I seem to remember several similar parks and prairies in Florida that seemed strangely located. I guess with all the water and waterways you build where you can build. From your map it looks like quite ways to the gulf. How long does it take to get out there if you go straight there? It seems like it might be a bit dangerous to head out into the gulf in just a kayak what with the currents and all. I think I'd stick to the smaller routes! Thanks for an interesting article.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Flourish. We do try to avoid the heat by going early in the day and we definitely avoid the summer months. While I have seen a number of snakes while kayaking I have not seen a python. Not sure I want to cross paths with one of them. Have a great day.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 months ago from USA

        Looks like lots of fun! I’d love to visit here during non-peak season when its not so hot. You mention all the specific animals youve spotted. Ever seen one of those pythons weve heard so much about in the Everglades?

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Linda, thank you. We always enjoy the opportunity to see the local wildlife when we are visiting in Florida. Kayaking has become a very relaxing activity for us when we get the opportunity to go. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Peggy. It is a wonderful new park and I’m so glad that we had a chance to experience it. It’s a great way to see the birds and other local wildlife. Thanks again, have a great weekend

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you Robie. I wish I could do this more often also. Unfortunately at the moment it’s only ocassionally when we are visiting. It’s a wonderful way to experience nature. Thanks again, have a great weekend.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Cerio, thanks for stopping by. I came across that quote and loved it. Hopefully you find a way to get out on the water in a kayak soon so you too can experience the joy and serenity of what has become one of my favorite pastimes.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This would be a great place to visit. I love the thought of seeing all the wildlife and exploring the park. Thanks for sharing the information and the lovely photos, Bill.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        2 months ago from Houston, Texas

        That looks like a beautiful new park in Florida. Your photos are beautiful. I would love getting to see all the birds and other wildlife.

      • Robie Benve profile image

        Robie Benve 

        2 months ago from Ohio

        I love this! Thanks a lot for the great info, and your photos are spectacular. I wish Florida was closer and I could go this weekend. :)

      • Glecerio Tatoy profile image

        Cerio 

        2 months ago

        'Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy kayak' - that's so true. Hope that I'll be able to do kayak one day.

        Thanks for sharing, Bill De Giulio!

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Mary. Thank you. We have found a number of wonderful spots to kayak in the Tampa area. I find it to be a very relaxing activity.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Bill. Thank you. It was great fun and it does help when the water is calm. We try to find a new location to kayak every time we are visiting in Florida.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        Such a lovely park.Our family goes and kayak here, too, when visiting our son in Tampa. It is beautiful and what's great is you can do it all year round. We still can't kayak in our lake here in Canada as the water is still too cold.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 months ago from Olympia, WA

        This would be great fun. After spending years kayaking the sometimes wavy Puget Sound, it would be nice to be out on calm water like that. Thanks for the bucket list item, Bill. Have a great weekend!

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Thanks Mike. I find it very relaxing to be on the water in a kayak. It's also a beautiful area with lots of wildlife, makes for a wonderful couple of hours. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

      • Readmikenow profile image

        Readmikenow 

        2 months ago

        Good article. Enjoyed reading it. The pictures are also great. Looks like such a good time.

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