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Econfina Creek Report

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 12/19/2007 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 6 photos     Map & Directions: View

A seven mile paddle from the Econfina Canoe Livery north of SR20 to SR 388 with side trips to Pitt Springs, Williford Springs, the Gainer Springs Group, and Emerald Springs. After the spring sight-seeing, we paddled for two more hours down stream.

My Report:

I had met a French-Canadian couple on the Blackwater last Friday, and they contacted me through Green Wave Forum asking for information about paddling. Since they were staying at the beach, I suggested the Econfina, and we met at the livery. They rented solo kayaks, and I paid the livery for the shuttle. It was a perfect December day for paddling in the panhandle - cool in the morning, but sunny and warm on the creek with a high of 67 degrees.

We were on the creek by 9:30 and paddled downstream until we found the spring run on the right for Williford Springs. A short paddle brought us to the spring and a day use area operated by the Water Management District. There are some old picnic tables in a clearing under the trees, and a porti-potty. It is a nice spot to swim and snorkel in the summer. Further downstream there is another spring run, but I don't know the names of these springs. There are several small springs that together put out enough water so one can paddle upstream and see where water pours out of rocks and bubbles up into the creek. I identified 5 small vents, and there maybe more.

The next stop is Pitt Springs. There is a Pitt Springs Recreation Area here with better facilities. Nice tables under cover, a handicap access ramp and sidewalk, and a drive into the facility from Highway 20. There has been no swimming allowed for a couple years, first because rock fell into the spring vent, and blocked it, and now because the water level is so low. The opening of the spring has been completely cleared, and the spring is surrounded by rock walls and is a favorite of parents and children when swimming is allowed. Even with the water level so low, there was a good flow into the Econfina.

After leaving Pitt Springs there is a free canoe launch on the left. The parking area is accessible from SR 20 on the east side of the bridge and creek. There is a circular loop to drive around to access the wooden walk-way to the creek. It is quite a distance down to the creek, and a cart or wheels that can be attached to one's craft would be useful in this situation. The launching area has a floating dock, and an aluminum ladder to get down into the boat. The current is fairly swift on the Econfina, and I don't think this is a useful canoe/kayak launch. On a previous trip I was able to get out of my canoe close to shore between the floating dock and the shore, walk around to the ladder in the creek, hanging on to the dock so I wouldn't get swept downstream, and after getting up on the dock was able to haul my boat and gear up. Immediately past the canoe launching area is the Highway 20 Bridge.

The next spring run on the right leads to the Gainer Springs Group. There is a very small sandy area that one can get out on, but above the wooden and earthen bearm is posted private property. This is a great swimming and snorkling area in warm weather. As one exits the Gainer Springs Group immediately south on the right is the largest spring on the creek called Emerald Springs. Across from Emerald Springs on the east side of the creek is another spring run. The livery driver said it was McCormick Springs.

We didn't get to see the spring because a beaver dam was blocking access.
The driver was surprised when we discussed the beaver dam, since it has been constructed within the last year in this spot. He said that state biologists are trapping and removing beavers because they contaminate the water, and are destructive to the trees and environment. The Econfina is the primary source of water for Panama City, ending at an impoundment that creates Deer Lake. Still I believe that beavers have a right to live in the wild. I will have to check out what is happening in this area.

After all the springs, the water is deeper and wider. There are fern-covered banks lining the river and some houses along the way, primarily on the east side of the creek. We paddled steadily for a couple hours arriving at the take-out at 1:15. Christian and Chantelle will be flying back to an area six hours north of Montreal into some heavy snow. I wish them happy memories of paddling in the Florida Panhandle.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 7
Fees/Costs $: $5.00 to launch

Photos from Econfina Creek:    (Click image to view full size)

Econfina Creek No Comm
Econfina Creek

This picture was taken from the bank near Pitt Springs and Highway 20.

Pitt Springs No Comm
Pitt Springs

This picture was taken from the bank near Pitt Springs and Highway 20.

Williford Springs No Comm
Williford Springs
Emerald Springs No Comm
Emerald Springs
Fern-Covered Banks No Comm
Fern-Covered Banks
Farewell to Florida No Comm
Farewell to Florida

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsThe Florida Trail crosses Highway 20 a couple miles west of the Econfina. There is also a 13 mile trail that has been completed in the last couple years that borders the creek. Pitt Spring Recreation Area is good for picnicing.

Post Date: 12/19/2007

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