The Wacissa River in Jefferson County Florida is fed by freshwater springs, forming a pristine playground for people, birds and wildlife. A short drive south of the City of Monticello, the cold flowing water is bluer than the sky and unbelieveably clear. Access is from Monticello west on Route 90 to Route 59 South and Tallahassee east on Route 90 to Route 59 south. Drive straight south on 59 to the headwaters of the river.
The park at the headwaters of the Wacissa is attractive, well-equipped and beautifully kept. Managed by Jefferson County as a public park, there is provision for picnicing, swimming and launching small watercraft. Rental watercraft are available near the park including kayaks, canoes, gunnoes and skiffs. Most craft are paddled, rowed or powered by electricity so not to frighten off the wildlife.
Many visitors take the short “Paddle” from the park to Blue Spring about one mile downriver. Watercraft are assisted by the current on the way downriver but paddling offers a mild workout on the return trip. Blue Spring is something worth seeing. The flow of the distinctive blue water from this first magnitude spring into the river is spectacular.
The quiet river is filled with wildlife. It is often possible to see four or five water birds at a time. Take your camera. Some birds will hold their ground until you get close to their feeding area. They will then give you a show as they fly just out of your reach and settle down to feeding again. It’s nothing to see several Great Egrets, a Bittern and various ducks and small waterfowl.
Ambitious Kayakers or Canoeists traveling with an experienced guide follow the river past Blue Spring to take the “Slave Canal” connecting the Wacissa to the lower Aucilla River which gives access to the Gulf. This canal is said to have been begun by Native Americans many years ago and re-opened by slave labor in the 1850s. It was expected to serve as a barge canal to move bales of cotton to the Appalachee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico where they could be loaded on ships and sent to market. The canal was hardly finished when a railroad was built that took its place.