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Blackwater River Report


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Report By:  ed    Date: 7/6/2007 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 11 photos     Map & Directions: View


Gray skies greeted us for this 24 mile paddling trip on the Blackwater River from the SR-4 Bridge near Baker, FL to Deaton Bridge at the Blackwater River State Park. Along the way we spotted wildlife, ate BBQ and got to watch Nate do a little swimming.

My Report:

This trip report is "straight out of the cobwebs" of my mind so details might be a bit inaccurate or sketchy, not that I don't take creative license on other trip reports. I'll let you figure out what that last sentence means.


Anyway, this trip involves Nate, Dusther and I paddling for 24 miles along the Blackwater River from Cotton Bridge (SR-4) west of Baker to Deaton Bridge in the Blackwater State Park. This was my last paddle in NW Florida for a bit, so typing the report reminds me of all the good times with my buddies up there and the great paddling locations that the panhandle has to offer.

Let's get started. Since this trip requires a shuttle, I'll repost the directions here in greater detail. To get to the take-out first, from Pensacola go east on Nine Mile Road (Alt US 90) across Escambia Bay, through Pace, Milton and to Deaton Bridge Road. It's about 22 miles from Pensacola. Turn left and go 4 miles to the Blackwater River State Park. There is a parking lot just south of the bridge and this makes a fine take-out.

Leave a car here. Load the boats on remaining vehicles and drive to the Cotton Bridge put-in at SR-4. Go across the Deaton Bridge and continue north on Deaton Bridge Rd until you hit a T intersection. Turn left on Pitmann Road (Indian Ford). Follow this west to Munson Hwy (also called 191). Turn right (north) on Munson and follow to SR-4 at Belandville. Turn right on SR-4 and go 9 miles to the small Cotton Bridge park / picnic area.

At the time of our trip, the put-in at SR-4 had a boat ramp that missed the water by a good 100 feet. Either the river shifted, or the water was WAY down, or both. We lugged the boats down the ramp, across the sand and finally splashed down into the Blackwater. Almost immediately after launching Dusther spotted a copperhead swimming across the river. This was the first I've ever seen in the water what that was quite exciting. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo...

Paddle, paddle, paddle, on the Blackwater through forests, past sandbars, feeder creeks and about 13-14 miles later we reached Bryant Bridge. According to the state park website it's a 12 mile trip, but we did some exploring. Very little development along the way (which is nice), but we did find one area where the forest service is putting in a new boat ramp. We didn't spot any other paddlers on the river until after Bryant Bridge.

From Bryant Bridge it's 10 miles to the state park if you go straight. Of course, we couldn't resist and did a bit more than that. Along the way the river opens and other canoeists and kayakers start to show up. Here's where the fun comes in. I'm supposing that Nate was trying to get a good look at some co-eds when he pressed on the rudder a bit too hard and in that 19 foot boat of his, well, Nate went swimming. I got plenty of pics of Nate doing a deep-water reentry and most are funny as heck, but I'll only post the polite ones here.

Not to be outdone by Nate's swimming ability, Dusther decides to paddle standing up. He does a good job of it and next thing he's swimming too. Since I'm the official trip photographer and wearing a camera, I forgo the exercise. I manage to kill about one camera per year anyway.

At lunchtime, Dusther does share a tasty snack of BBQ ribs with Nate and so I won't post any funny photos of him swimming.

About 1/4 mile from the take-out the skies finally open up and drown us. We're sopping wet just as we reach the take-out and hide under the Deaton Bridge for a bit. We watch as an unlucky young lady from the canoe outfitters gets to stand in the rain and catch people in rental boats before they go too far down river.

Next steps - drive back to SR-4, get car, return to Deaton Bridge and load up. It was another great Northwest Florida paddling trip!

Get Map & Directions for this trip


Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 24
Fees/Costs $: $3 parking/Deaton


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

Put-in at SR-4 Restricted
Put-in at SR-4

The boat ramp at Cotton Bridge (SR-4) missed the water by a good 100 feet.

Blackwater Forest Restricted
Blackwater Forest

Yes, there are pine trees in the Blackwater State Forest near Pensacola.

Breaktime Restricted
Breaktime

Taking a break on the Blackwater River north of Bryant Bridge

Exploring Feeders Restricted
Exploring Feeders

Here Dusther is exploring feeder creeks on the Blackwater River.

Bryant Bridge Restricted
Bryant Bridge

The Bryant Bridge on the Blackwater River.

Blackwater Sandbars Restricted
Blackwater Sandbars

You'll find plenty of nice white sandbars along the Blackwater.

High Cliffs Restricted
High Cliffs

You'll also find several areas with high cliffs on the Blackwater River.

Nate goes swimming Restricted
Nate goes swimming

Hey look - girls! Oops, a little too much rudder!

Dusther Showoff Restricted
Dusther Showoff

Dusther getting ready to stand up in his kayak.

Rain at Takeout Restricted
Rain at Takeout

Just as we reach the Deaton Bridge, the skies open up.

Canoe Blackwater Restricted
Canoe Blackwater

Canoeing is as popular, maybe even more popular than kayaking the Blackwater River. Several outfitters in the area supply boats.



Post Date: 3/14/2008

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