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Blackwater River Report

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 12/14/2007 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 4 photos     Map & Directions: View

This trip describes the section of the Blackwater River from Bryant Bridge to Deaton Road Bridge, which is the take-out in Blackwater River State Park. It is about eight and a half miles on the river, and an easy and beautiful paddle.

My Report:

A group of 8 paddlers and two dogs met at Bryant Bridge for a 9:00 a.m. shuttle. It had been foggy at sunrise and during my trip west to the Blackwater, but by the time everyone had unloaded gear, taken the vehicles to the take-out, and returned; the sky was blue with puffy, white clouds. Immediately after we launched we encountered our only pull-over. Logs were jammed against Bryant Bridge, and there was only a very small opening, too shallow to paddle through, so we got out, lined our boats under the bridge, and jumped back in to paddle downstream.

The current was running about 2.5 miles an hour, and the upper portion was twisty with large, sugar-white sand dunes at every curve. It only took a couple turns before I realized one couldn't cut too close to the shore at these corners because the sand had also been deposited into the river and extended out 10 to 12 feet in most places. The river is tea-colored and with the white sand bottom most of the way, the water looked yellow, especially when the sun was shining brightly.

This is a very popular summer paddling river, and members of the paddling club I belong to avoid paddling during summer months. There are several liveries that rent tubes and canoes, and on week-ends the river is packed. There are access roads through the forest to the river, so often there are campers on the banks, or people who have driven to their favorite spot on the river to swim and picnic. But since it was a week-day in December we thought we would have the river to ourselves. Imagine our surprise when a couple in a rental tandem merrily passed us while we were eating lunch.

After lunch our group caught up with them while they were enjoying the sun on a hugh sandbar. I stopped to talk and take pictures. They were French-Canadians who were spending 10 days in Florida while the temperature in Quebec was minus 20 degrees C. Of course I explained about the Green Wave Forum, and wrote down the website for them. They asked some questions about the remainder of the trip, and since I had managed to get my GPS to track the trip, I was able to tell them we had gone five and a half miles and that I thought the trip was less than nine miles.

Everyone was paddling steadily, so we paddled the entire eight and a half miles in 2.54 minutes of moving time. We spent an hour and thirty-two minutes in breaks, a rest break after a couple miles of paddling, then a lunch break in a couple more miles, and then a break to talk to the paddlers we had met on the river.

When we got to the take-out, which is on Blackwater Forest State Park property, we noticed a gate tied shut with a string, and a dirt road leading to the river. Figuring it is much easier to ask forgiveness, or plead ignorance than get permission, I untied the string and one of our group drove a pick-up down to pick-up a kayak. As luck would have it, the livery driver immediately showed up to get the two livery canoes, and informed us in no uncertain terms that vehicles weren't allowed close to the water, and should stay up on the road. The livery people, of course, have permission to drive down and get their canoes. Still his advice about not getting too close to the water must have been good advice, because the truck got stuck, and had difficulty getting out. By the time a vehicle with 4-wheeled drive and a rope started toward the take-out to assist, the truck came roaring out. So in the future, I will be prepared to haul my boat up the long drive and only park on the tarmac at the entrance to that drive-way.

It is rare to have temperatures in the high seventies in December, and it was an absolutely delightful paddle. I highly recommend paddling the Blackwater River, especially on week-days in the summer, in the spring and fall, and any nice day throughout the winter.

Shuttle Directions: Leave the parking area at Bryant Bridge and turn R on Bryant Bridge Road, drive about 2 miles and veer left on Jim Pitts Road. Drive until you come to a stop sign. Turn left on Deaton Bridge Road and drive past the Blackwater Forest State Park main entrance until you come to the river. The parking area for the take-out is on the right before you cross the bridge and there is a $3.00 fee for using the facility.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 8.54
Fees/Costs $: $3.00

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

Blackwater River No Comm
Blackwater River
First Break No Comm
First Break

On one of the myriad sugar-white sandbars on the Blackwater River

Better Than Snow No Comm
Better Than Snow

The French-Canadians enjoy the warm Florida sun.

Which way to River? No Comm
Which way to River?

Even dogs need life jackets on the river.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsBlackwater State Park is available for camping and Blackwater State Forest has three formal campgrounds, one at Bear Lake, and two at Hurricane Lake. Camping is also available along the river in the Forest.

Post Date: 12/14/2007

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