Extending for four miles along the Gulf
coast of Pasco County, Werner-Boyce Salt Springs is one of Florida's newest
state parks. Land acquisition began in 1992 with a combinations of purchases and
gifts from Pasco County, the state of Florida, and the Werner and Boyce families.
While most of the park is undeveloped, new facilities are currently underway.
Most of the park's 3,296 acres are wetlands consisting of mangrove islands and
salt marshes. This makes it a fisherman's and kayaker's paradise where it
is easy to get lost in the numerous tidal creeks and lakes. There are no beaches
or swimming areas ... so once you leave your launch point, you are face-to-face
with the "Real Florida". Motorboating - including airboats and jetskis,
are allowed in the coastal waters of the park. But kayaks, stand-up-paddleboards,
and canoes are the preferred mode for exploring.
Even though the main entrance to Werner-Boyce
Salt Springs is from U.S. 19 in a bustling business district, you quickly leave
all that behind as you enter the park. A new kayak launch, restroom facility, and
concession area are currently under construction (as of November 2016). Hiking trails
lead from the main parking area, taking you through marshy and forested areas, and
along spring fed streams and bayous. Although the park is home to several natural
springs, the main "Salt Spring" is in a secluded section just off one
of the trails. While not impressive to view from the surface, the second-magnitude
spring is 320 feet deep. While much of it has been explored by professional diving
expeditions, portions remain a mystery.
Along the Gulf coast, midway into the
park, there is an overnight camping shelter at Hope Bayou. Often used as a
meeting spot for air-boaters, the covered pavilion is a popular kayaker's waypoint
while paddling the Florida circumnavigational trail. All together there are 12 different
tidal streams that feed into the Gulf of Mexico within the boundaries of the park.
All can be explored by adventurous and ambitious kayakers - but beware of the tides.
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park is home to a large number of water fowl ...
including egrets, great blue heron, white ibis, wood storks, osprey, eagles, and
roseate spoonbills. Many of these species are endangered, but they are easy to spot
here. Several pairs of bald eagles make their home in the park - you can see one
nest from the main parking area.