The Wekiva Wild and Scenic River System
For canoeing and kayaking recreational opportunities, download the Paddle Wekiva Guide.
The Wekiva River System consists of the Wekiva River, Rock Springs Run, Wekiwa Springs Run, and Black Water Creek, which is located within Orange, Seminole, and Lake counties in northern central Florida. Two separate boundaries influence hydrology of the river system. The first is the boundary of the surface water drainage basin, generally referred to as the “Wekiva basin”. The entire surface water drainage basin is approximately 242 square miles in size, with its northernmost extent reaching into Marion County. A significant portion of this area is in public ownership. The second boundary is that of the “Wekiva springshed”, the aquifer recharge capture area within which water from the surface percolates and travels through underground strata to eventually emerge at the springs. This springshed area encompasses an area extending beyond the surface water basin, primarily to the south and west.
The interaction between surface water and groundwater is complex. Rain percolates through porous limestone and karst geologic features to the Floridan aquifer, flowing in a generally southwest to northeast direction through the springshed. This groundwater eventually resurfaces via springs in the basin. The river system, however, is fed both by springs from the aquifer and directly through surface runoff. Although the springs provide a relatively consistent flow of fresh water throughout the year (in water flow volume and temperature), the seasonal variations in surface runoff flows may be substantial. By contrast, blackwater streams receive most of their flow from precipitation resulting in annual rainy season over-bank flows. This dynamic surface and groundwater hydrology has created an intricate mosaic of rivers, creeks, lakes, springs, seepage areas, and sinkholes.
Elevations within the basin range from sea level to about 70 feet above sea level. The climate is considered subtropical, with an average annual temperature of 72 degrees. Daily maximum Fahrenheit temperatures in the summer approach the mid 90’s. The average annual rainfall in the Wekiva basin is 52 inches, with June through October, the rainiest season.’
The dynamic hydrology of the basin and local climate combine to provide ideal conditions for a diverse variety of natural communities such as pine flatwoods, wet and dry prairie, hydric hardwood hammocks, longleaf pine and wiregrass, xeric scrub oak, sand pine scrub, swamp, and marsh communities. These communities support numerous species of plants and animals, some of which are endangered, threatened, or species of special concern. Much of the land adjacent to the Wekiva River System is in public ownership by the state of Florida or St. Johns River Water Management District, with smaller public recreational parks owned by various local governments. Much of the private lands adjacent to the river system are within Seminole and Lake counties.