Description - This 32,128-acre preserve borders Florida's Gulf coast between Cedar Key and Yankeetown. Most of the area consists of salt marsh dotted with picturesque wooded islands interlaced with numerous tidal creeks.
Copyright: - Florida Division of Recreation & Parks
Waccasassa Bay State Preserve
The preserve has unique geologic features as this area serves as a discharge area for the Florida Aquifer. Numerous "solution chimneys" or artesian springs have been found which help form many of the creeks with in the preserve.
The preserve's upland areas are primarily hammock. The hammock is only a small portion of the once vast Gulf Hammock. It is being preserved in its natural condition as a reminder of the expansive hardwood forest that was unique among Florida's outstanding natural areas.
- This vast preserve attracts a myriad of wildlife including many endangered and threatened species. Included in that list is the manatee, bald eagle and Florida black bear. Waccasassa Bay serves as a breeding area for white-tailed deer and wild turkey. Immense salt marsh and tidal creeks are breeding and nursery areas for saltwater fish, crabs and shellfish. Thousands of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds feed in the rich estuary. Otters, raccoons, alligators, and other animals often are seen along the shore. Anglers find the salt marshes also serving as nursery grounds for a variety of fish including Spanish mackerel, redfish, mullet, speckled trout, and flounder.
Waccasassa Bay is rich with cultural history dating from pre-Columbian to early pioneers to the Civil War to modern day timber harvesting. Florida's early pioneers homesteaded and hunted deer, turkey and bear here. They cut timber and "cow hunted" as well. Yet, their activities did not greatly alter the wilderness character of the land. The hammock played a major role in the development of Cedar Key, providing cedar for the pencil factories and palm trees for the fiber factory. Remnants of the boilers once used in the production of brushes and brooms made from the sable palm fibers can be found with in the boundaries of the preserve. Another remnant of bygone industry is Salt Island, named for salt kettles found there which were used to extract salt from salt water during the Civil War. Numerous home sites of early settlers as well as Indian sites and artifacts have been found in the preserve.
Disturbance of these sites and the removal of any artifacts is prohibited.
Recreation - Accessible only by private boat, several launches exist outside the preserve. The primary recreation is canoeing, boating, fishing, hiking and primitive camping.
Climate - Florida experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The area offers a great warm escape for outdoor recreation during the cold northern months. Summer temperatures average in the low 80's Fahrenheit and mid 20's Celsius. Winters are mild with temperatures averaging between the high 40's to the high 50's Fahrenheit. The average precipitation for the north central area is diverse. The central western area receives more than 60 inches per year while the central eastern tract receives about 50 inches. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
Waccasassa Bay State Preserve extends along the coast between Cedar Key and Yankee Town. Boat access is from County Road 40 in Yankee Town, CR 326 in Gulf Hammock, and Cedar Key.