CRYSTAL RIVER PRESERVE STATE PARK
A place of exceptional natural beauty, the undisturbed islands, inlets, backwaters, and forests of this preserve are especially cherished by nature lovers and photographers. The park borders 20 miles of the northern Gulf Coast between the two cities of Yankeetown and Homosassa. Visitors can hike or bicycle along nine miles of trails or study the native wildlife and plants on the two-and-a-half mile interpretive trail. Anglers can walk down a short path to the Mullet Hole for a relaxing afternoon of fishing. Paddlers can launch a kayak or canoe into the waters of the scenic Crystal River to see the park from the water. On the third Saturday of each month, the visitor center features the Redfish Revue Theatre, a video presentation about the park. Located west of U.S. 19 in Crystal River.
Nature lovers and photographers will love the undisturbed islands where everything from bald eagles to wood storks call their home in the aquatic and upland environments of the preserve.
In 1968 St. Martins Marsh, one of the original aquatic preserves, was created by the state legislature. The state began to realize the unique ecological qualities and the economic importance of these submerged lands and moved to protect them. A later addition was Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, the largest in the state. As knowledge of ecological processes increased, it was realized that the aquatic preserves could not be protected if the water quality was not protected, and that water quality could not be protected without protecting the surrounding watersheds. In the middle to late 1970?s the state began to purchase land surrounding St. Martins Marsh. These tracts of land were originally named Crystal River State Buffer Preserve. Today the land total is approximately 30,000 acres with parcels from Yankeetown to Homosassa Springs. The Buffer Preserve became Crystal River Preserve State Park on January 1, 2004.
The Visitor Center houses 6 floor to ceiling dioramas depicting habitats in the park. Other displays include three 125-gallon aquariums, 2 snake exhibits, a diamondback terrapin enclosure, and a touch table. The conference room is used for presentations and our once a month movies. These movies are free to the public. Outside the Visitor Center there is a demonstration Xeriscape garden with a pond and waterfall. A dock is situated along the Crystal River and has several tables and benches where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenery.
HERITAGE-ECO BOAT TOURS. The vessel "Monroe" (26 passengers) is the vehicle for a lower river Heritage-Eco Tour. The program " The Ancient River Dwellers" is provided weekly. The 1? hour trip allows the participants the opportunity to see the coastal marsh and learn how it and the associated marine estuary provided for the pre-Columbian people that lived here. Boat trips currently run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but are subject to change due to weather conditions. Call the park for confirmation of days and details at (352) 795-3817.
The Crystal Cove day use fishing area, locally known as the "Mullet Hole" , can be accessed by taking the first driveway, on the left, after entering the main gate on Sailboat Avenue. This fishing area extends along a canal system that eventually opens into the Crystal River. This area has restrooms but no picnic area or potable water. The entrance to the Redfish Hole is on the left, off of Fort Island Trail near mile marker #4. The fishing area is approximately a ? mile walk from the entrance. This area is an old borrows pit that is tidally influenced. In the winter it is a good fishing spot for game species such as redfish, trout, snook, and flounder. There is no restroom or potable water available.
Paddle the Preserve and enjoy it's exceptional natural beauty.