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Escambia after the Storm

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schessl |
Published Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The "Canoe Capital" designation did not come easy for Northwest Florida, especially considering the paddling opportunities available in other parts of the Sunshine State. We wondered if it still held after Ivan and the 2004 Hurricane season.

Boat on Bank So, aiming to please our paddling audience and our curiosity, we took a quick 6.5-mile trip at the north end of Escambia Bay along the Escambia and Santa Rosa County line. The good news for panhandle paddlers is it looks like the "Canoe Capital" prize is still intact. The bad news is there's lots of strange new birds in the trees. Take a look at the photos below and you'll see what we mean.


Note:These photos were taken in April 2005 near Saultsman Bayou. Hurricane damage is evident but don't let it scare you. The area is beautiful, paddling easy and fun to explore.

Put-In:At the Swamp House Marina located about 1/4 mile past the east entrance of the University of West Florida in Pensacola on North Davis Highway. The turnoff is just before the bridge to Pace on ALT US 90. Launch fee $3.

Boat on Side Trip starts at the marina (GPS 1). Follow the bridge east to the Escambia River channel. Hurricane wrecked boats can be found on both banks. More can be spotted in the salt marsh by the Marina (See Alternate Trip).

Kayaker at boat.

Enter Saultsman Cutoff at 1/2 mile north on the east bank. Water flow changes depending upon tides. Follow the main channel to keep on course. Saultsman Cutoff goes northwest for 3/4 mile, then northeast and finally southeast. At the bay, continue in a northeast direction. This will take you to the ALT US 90 bridge.

Houseboat in trees From the bridge (GPS 2) cross Saultsmans Cove and look for an entrance in the sawgrass near the bay entrance (GPS 3). Following the Simpson River waterway west to the Escambia River. The Swamp House Marina on the left just under the ALT US 90 bridge.

kayakers in salt marsh Alternate Trip:For those who don't want to make the loop, turn immediately left (north) past the boat ramp and continue up the canal. Some two miles of great salt marsh waits. We even saw a small gator going for a swim.

kayakers in salt marsh

GPS Coordinates:
1: Marina
N30 32.821 W87 11.769
2: Midpoint Bridge
N30 34.009 W87 11.211
3: Saultsman Cove
N30 33.887 W87 10.756

Final Thoughts:The boats are interesting to see, but do represent one aspect of Pensacola's loss due to Hurricane Ivan. You can help by contributing to the American Red Cross, Rebuild Northwest Floridaor other charitable organization.

Keep Paddling.

Ed Schessl

Last update Friday, January 30, 2009

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