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Chipola River Report

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 5/26/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 11 photos     Map & Directions: View

A 10-mile paddle from SR 280 at the Magnolia Bridge Boat Ramp to SR 278 boat ramp at Peacock Bridge.

My Report:

The Chipola River consistantly tops the list of the hottest paddling locations on the Greenwave. It has 3 trip reports and one comment and covers a section that can be paddled upstream from Florida Caverns State Park and the first segment of the State Wide Paddling Trail from SR 166 to SR 280. There are five additional downstream segments and I have decided that my goal is to report on the entire 51 miles of the Chipola River Canoe Trail. No, I didn't say I would do it on consecutive days, or with a canoe-camping trip. But today I did begin working toward my goal, and paddled from Magnolia Bridge down to Peacock Bridge. This segment is listed as a 10 mile paddle on the canoe trail map, and the map turned out to be accurate.

I like to have a tandem canoe in case I can coerce family members into paddling with me, so I recently purchased a Winona Spirit. My daughter was visiting from points south and she agreed to help me try out the new boat. It was Memorial Day and we reached the boat ramp about 8:00 a.m. and were dismayed to see the piles of trash left on the ground from those who had already been floating and paddling on previous days We were early enough that the boat ramp only had two other parked vehicles and no one drove up with a boat while we were unloading.

The weather was great, the paddle serene. The Chipola is broad and varies from being 6-8 feet deep to 12 inches or less where the limestone karst rises up in the river.
The water level was 5.56 on the Marianna gage and 8.93 on the Altha gage. Even then the chart indicated the discharge levels were below the 8-year average. We didn't see visible dry limestone shoals in the river, but came to one place where we had some white water and standing waves. We hung on to the sides of the canoe, and went through without scraping up the boat, or taking on water. (This is not the section of the Chipola with the Class I rapid known as "Look and Tremble"

We were able to see Ibis, Little Blue Herons, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and owl and a large black bird that may have been an immature eagle. With another paddler in the canoe I was able to get my camera out in plenty of time to take bird pictures. We also saw a spotted gar about three feet long, and a deer along side the road after our paddle.

One of the goals I had for the trip was to notice where Dry Creek joined the Chipola. We found that spot, and paddled up Dry Creek to a camping spot. A local Scout Master had mentioned that scouts often camped at that spot. There was a family of 4 that had spent the night and the boys were swimming in the creek. Shortly after leaving that area we encountered six people in three tandem canoes who also said they had camped overnight. They had chosen the first island for their camping spot. The second island was the one I selected for camping and the GPS mark is N30 39.618 WO85 11.725. Someone had been camping there also, because I could still see wisps of smoke from the campfire.

The river has more development than I recall from past paddles. Also there were several farms along the river with cattle grazing and drinking water from the river. One farm was pumping irrigation water from the river. For those reasons I would give the paddle a 3 on scenic beauty, although there are long stretches that are lined with hardwood trees. Several times I saw planted pines through the fringe of the woods on the riverbank.

We had optomistically asked our "designated driver" to pick us up at 11:00. When we left Dry Creek we realized the paddle would take longer than we thought and tried to call and leave a message to no avail. We were happy to see father and husband patiently waiting at Peacock Bridge at 12:40 when we finally paddled up. We loaded up and headed home discussing what we would prepare for lunch when we arrived.

Here are the stats: 9.96 miles paddled in 3 hours and 38 minutes with 42 minutes of break time.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 9.96
Fees/Costs $: free

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

Magnolia Boat Ramp No Comm
Magnolia Boat Ramp

Putting in at Magnolia Boat Ramp.

Not a Pretty Sight No Comm
Not a Pretty Sight

If one wants to enjoy the river, keep it clean for the rest of us!

Ibis No Comm
Ibis II No Comm
Ibis II
Where's the Source? No Comm
Where's the Source?
Dolomite Pit No Comm
Dolomite Pit

Here is the source of the water.

Holiday Rest No Comm
Holiday Rest

This fellow cracked an eye to see if we would be able to load the canoe on top of the vehicle.

Lizard's Tail No Comm
Lizard's Tail

I had never seen such a mass of this flower which is scientifically titled:Saururus cernuus

Little Blue Heron No Comm
Little Blue Heron
Peacock Bridge No Comm
Peacock Bridge

Here is the take-out at Peacock Bridge

Cows Looking at Us No Comm
Cows Looking at Us

We looked at the cows and the cows looked at us.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsPaddling in the area includes Merritt's Millpond, Spring Creek, Dry Creek and 6 sections of the Chipola. Camping at Florida Caverns State Park.

Post Date: 5/26/2008

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