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Chipola River Report

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 10/20/2007 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 3 photos     Map & Directions: View

The paddle was downstream from Yancey Bridge to Magnolia Landing. This is section 2-3 on the Chipola River Canoe Trail website sponsored by the state of Florida. Highlights of the paddle are a cave accessible from the river, and a spring to swim in.

My Report:

A group of four paddlers met at Yancey Bridge at 10:00 a.m. for a paddle down the Chipola. Two people had been on this section of the river before, but it was the first time for two of the kayakers since they had recently moved to the area. After unloading our boats and gear, we ran a shuttle to Magnolia Boat Landing and left our vehicles at the take-out.

Within .3 of a mile from the put-in there is a river cabin on stilts. What many paddlers don't realize is behind the cabin is a small spring reached by paddling to the left of the cabin. This spring is named Sandbag Spring because it has concrete block retaining walls on three sides, and visible sandbags. The land surrounding the spring is private property. There are quite a few downed trees in the river in the upper portion of this paddle, although we were able to negotiate through and around the obstructions with no pull-overs.

About three and a half miles downstream from the put-in, we came to the cave that locals call "The Ovens" It is on the west bank of the river, and easily recognized by huge blocks of limestone that have fallen in the river. The water level was very low, and there was a little dirt area that one vessel could access, so we took turns bringing our boats up, and getting out and climbing up into the cave. A couple people had headlamps, and the four of us walked back into the cavern. There are several branches off the main walk way. This cave has been heavily used and has names and initials scratched into the limestone. After exploring the cave for a short time, we crossed the river and had lunch on the riverbank.

Our next stop was Maund Spring, which has a short spring run into the Chipola. It is possible to paddle up to the spring. The water at the spring was quite cloudy, possibly because of the heavy rains that fell for two days prior to the paddle. Since it was mid-day with a temperature in the high 70's I took the plunge. Since spring water is always chilly, it seems appropriate to make a little noise when going in. But swimming warms a person up, and one feel refreshed after having a chance to take a spring dip!

Six and a half miles into the paddle the group reached Spring Creek. It is fed by a large, first magnitude spring, Jackson Blue Spring about 5 miles from the Chipola River. This spring, as well as several other springs, has been dammed at Highway 90, and the contained water creates Merritt's Millpond, which is about 4 miles in lengh. The outlet from the dam creates Spring Creek which is a shallow, twisty creek which eventually joins the Chipola River. This is a good spot to take a break, and one of the paddlers paddled upstream a short distance.

The current of the Chipola picks up below Spring Creek, due to the influx of additional water, and the limestone karst being close to the surface. The water rushes downstream, and at the low water level at the present time, there were some shoals. One of the kayakers unintentionally became stuck on a projection, but quickly found deeper water. It was this person that spotted the gator sunning itself on a log. It might have been four or five feet long, and stayed on the log for some time, until someone tried to take its picture. I guess the gator was camera shy. There were a number of Ibis feeding along the riverbanks, and I saw an otter or beaver, not sure which. It seemed quite large for an otter compared to the ones I had spotted on other rivers. It quickly dove underwater before the rest of the group could help me identify it.

It is less than two miles to the take-out from Spring Creek, and the group was able to make good time. After paddling under the I-10 bridge, one will see four houses on the right side of the river, and a take-out point for a canoe livery. Immediately past the livery one will go under the Magnolia Road Bridge and find the public boat ramp on the right side of the river.

The total distance paddled was 8.24 according to my Garmin and it also indicated that the group paddled for three hours and twenty-eight minutes and stopped for one hour and fifty one minutes. I have always said that that section of the Chipola is a five hour paddle, but didn't realize how much time could be taken up by exploring, lunch break, and rest stops. We loaded up boats, and one couple headed to Florida Caverns State Park for camping and the other two paddles went their separate ways home.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 8.24
Fees/Costs $: free

Photos from Chipola River:    (Click image to view full size)

Cave on the Chipola No Comm
Cave on the Chipola

Here are three paddlers at the mouth of the cave on the Chipola River. The cave is located on the right side of the Chipola below Highway 90 Bridge.

Fun in Maund Springs No Comm
Fun in Maund Springs

Taking a refreshing dip in beautiful Maund Springs just off the Chipola River. Search for the spring run on the left as one paddles downstream from the cave.

Chipola River View No Comm
Chipola River View

Here is a view of the limestone banks that line sections of the Chipola River.


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsFlorida Caverns State Park is a half mile north of Yancey Bridge. Because it is a very popular park with a cave tour, equestrian trails, canoing upstream from the park, and hiking; reserving your campsite in advance is strongly advised.

Post Date: 10/20/2007

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