In support of the resource management goals and objectives for the area and to provide a quality experience for all area users, the following recreation activities are allowed,
The Western Sloughs are popular with squirrel hunters, and many squirrels are harvested in both locations each year. Hogs are abundant on the area, particularly on the central portion west of the Wacissa River. Turkey hunters can find good opportunities on some of the higher areas in the Western Sloughs and along the Aucilla River sinks south of Goose Pasture Road. Deer are common throughout the area. Some of the areas popular with turkey hunters should also be productive for deer, due to the abundance of mast producing tree species.
Fishing Hole at Western Slough
Aucilla WMA offers several different fishing opportunities. The Western Sloughs are popular with bank fishermen who target redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish (shellcracker), spotted sunfish (stumpknocker), bluegill and largemouth bass. The Aucilla River Sinks is a good place to combine hiking along the Florida National Scenic Trail with fishing the numerous sinkholes and river rises for bream and catfish. The Wacissa River offers many angling opportunities for various species of bream. Early mornings out of Goose Pasture campground can be productive for largemouth bass. The Wacissa is one of only a handful of rivers in north Florida with Suwannee bass, a smaller cousin to the largemouth bass. This small bass can be distinguished from the largemouth by its tan coloration with dark brown markings, red eye, and absence of a notch separating the two sections of the dorsal fin. Fishing license information.
The best way to see wildlife on the area is by canoe or kayak early in the morning or evening or by walking quietly along the Aucilla Sinks Trail or the trams accessed from Highway 98. This area is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Visit the Wildlife page for more information about the area's wildlife. You may also request a copy or download or print the Aucilla Bird List .
Aucilla Sinks Trail
According to Elizabeth F. Carter in A Hiking Guide to Florida, "Searching for the sinkholes makes for a fascinating hike since the woods are heavily forested with beautiful magnolia, oaks and other hardwoods." Along the trail are Chocolate, New, Mosquito Slap, Hurry Up, Kitchen, Long Suffering, Watts, Frink, Sunshine, Long, and Break-down Sinks. If you cross Goose Pasture Road and walk .2 miles, you'll see Roadside, Overflow Sinks, and the Silver Blaze Tree, a 1984 commemoration of the completion of a major connection of the Florida Trail.
Aucilla River Trail
For 7.1 miles, from Goose Pasture Road to just short of Walker Springs bridge, this trail follows the east bank of the Aucilla River. The banks are high and heavily wooded and the steep gradient and rocky outcrops produce a number of shoals and ledges.
There are bicycling opportunities along approximately 10 miles of trams within the Western Sloughs area, accessible from Highway 98 and on any roads in the area.
Wacissa River Paddling Trail
The Wacissa, a state designated paddling trail, is one of the most pristine rivers in Florida. Twelve major springs feed the Wacissa making it a magnet for wildlife and a recreation hub for swimmers, snorkelers, boaters and anglers.This well-loved river offers rewarding excursions for beginning paddlers and families with children.
The headsprings are located at the Wacissa Springs County Park, a busy spot on weekends. The river may be crowded for the first mile or so down to Blue Springs, a favorite swimming hole. To experience the river's solitude and serenity, plan to visit on a weekday or early or late in the day.
The historic man-made Slave Canal was dug during antebellum times in an attempt to join the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers and create a means of moving cotton to the coast. The Canal venture failed but rocks stacked along the banks provide visitors with a solemn testimony to the past. About five miles long, the shady Slave Canal is a short, but challenging paddle. The experience varies with water levels and the number of downed trees.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission partnered with the Suwannee River Water Management District to create a map guide for the Aucilla, Wacissa, and Econfina Rivers, which can be ordered on-line by visiting the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. Offering a variety of trip options and shuttling directions, visitors can create their own adventures along these scenic waterways.
Aucilla River Paddling Trail
The Aucilla River, designated a state paddling trail, is popular with paddlers and anglers. Aucilla offers a stretch of rocky shoals and rapids that, depending on water levels, can challenge even experienced paddlers. A portion of the Aucilla River flows through dramatic geologic formations that mark the beginning of a sequence of sinks and rises created as the river disappears into the underlying karst and resurfaces. After about 8 miles of hide-and-seek, the river finally emerges as a large spring at Nutall Rise. It widens and continues its journey to the Gulf, flowing through panoramic palm-fringed vistas of salt marsh. Power boats ply the lower portions of the river, and anglers find excellent fishing in the productive seagrass habitat of the protected coastline.
Camping is allowed along the Wacissa River at Goose Pasture campground. The camping area is open on a first-come, first-served basis by self-issued special-use authorization, which is available at the kiosk. Campers are limited to a 10-day stay. Camping is not allowed during the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area general gun season. Primitive camping (tents only) is allowed at designated sites along the Florida Trail only by permit from the Suwannee River Water Management District. For information contact the Suwannee River Water Management District (800) 226-1066 (good in Florida only) or (386) 362-1001.