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Chipola River Report
(Peacock Bridge on the Chipola)

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 10/4/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 24 photos     Map & Directions: View

This was an 11 mile paddle on the Chipola River from Peacock Bridge in Jackson County to Lamb Eddy Landing in Calhoun County. The water level was low and we had the thrill of shooting over "Look and Tremble" a little stretch of whitewater.

My Report:

Sometimes everything falls neatly into place and a fabulous paddle is the result. Contributing factors were perfect October weather with a cool morning and a high in the mid 80's, clear water, and water levels low enough to create several shoals with riffles and drops, and a group of congenial paddlers.

The group which included three local Marianna paddlers, and 6 paddlers from Tallahassee assembled at the Golden Arches at the Marianna I-10 exit, and shuttled to Peacock Bridge. We unloaded our boats, and just as we were leaving to shuttle to the take-out another group of kayakers from Panama City arrived. They were paddling from Peacock Bridge to Johnny Boy Landing. It took an hour from the Marianna exit to the put-in, unloading the boats, and running the shuttle to the take-out, so by 9:30 we were underway.

The banks of the river was lined with hardwood forest, with some spectacular live oaks arching over the river, as well as a few cypress trees. The bottom of the river alternates between sandy bottom and limestone karst. The river gage information posted on the website said the water level at Altha was 8.8 feet, just a few inches below the 8 year average. There are areas where the water is 8-12 feet, and other areas where the limestone karst is just below water level. This is what creates the shoals and the fun!

We took a couple breaks to visit springs, and stopped at a spring for lunch. We stopped after lunch at Johnny Boy Landing and there is a spring run which cuts through the limestone banks, but a local paddler said it was a long hike to that spring.
Another interesting spring was in the bottom of a sink hole, maybe 16 feet down.

Below Johnny Boy Landing is Willis Bridge. I have a habit of saying there isn't a put-in or take-out at Willis Bridge, but there is if one is willing to carry the boats up or down a long flight of stairs. Locals use this put-in for tubing over Look and Tremble and taking out on a forest road on the right side of the Chipola that runs back about a mile along the river.

I had visually scouted Look and Tremble last week, so knew where I would go down. I sat on the bottom of my canoe and didn't stop for a look. Most of the group took out on the right and checked it out, and watched two of us as we shot the little rapids. Then everyone took their turn. After the fun we paddled another half hour to the take-out.

Most of the paddle is scenic without many houses, but below Look and Tremble there are houses and cottages on both sides of the river. Even then, the paddlers in the front of the group saw a deer between two houses, and we saw a dead young buck in the water, caught on a log. This brought to mind the recent event I had observed last week at my branch bank. I had gone early one morning to see if the ATM was still giving away money, and some movement caught my eye, and there were two fighting bucks in the grass at the edge of the mowed area close to the Chipola River. They fought until one buck was bowled over on it's back, and it jumped up and ran into the woods. I wondered if the young buck in the water had been fatally injured by another rutting buck.

The entire paddle took 4 hours of paddling time, and we spent another hour and forty minutes stopped - exploring, stretching, and eating. We paddled 11.1 miles and everyone was loaded up and headed home by 4:00. What a great day on the Chipola River!

Here are the directions to Lamb Eddy Landing, and to find your way back to civilization:

Directions for the Shuttle from Peacock Bridge to Lamb Eddy Landing

From the boat landing drive turn L and drive 1 mile to SR 73. Turn left and drive 7.3 miles to CR 274. Turn left and drive to Hamilton Spring Road on the right. There is a boat ramp sign pointing right. Turn R and drive 2.0 miles to Lamb Eddy Rd and turn Left. The boat ramp and park is at the end of this road.

Directions to I-10 from Lamb Eddy Boat Landing

Take Lamb Eddy Road until it dead-ends at Hamilton Springs Road; turn right, at CR 274, Turn Right, drive 2.2 miles SR 71 in Altha. Turn Left and drive 11 miles to I-10.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 11.1
Fees/Costs $: free

Photos from Peacock Bridge on the Chipola:    (Click image to view full size)

Near Peacock Bridge No Comm
Near Peacock Bridge

Two paddlers heading downstream with a Live Oak hanging overhead.

Chipola Paddler No Comm
Chipola Paddler

Taking it easy and enjoying the paddle.

Paddling Tandem No Comm
Paddling Tandem
Irridescent Beetle No Comm
Irridescent Beetle
Riverbank Beauty No Comm
Riverbank Beauty
Banana Spider No Comm
Banana Spider
Johnny Boy Landing No Comm
Johnny Boy Landing
Spring at JBLanding No Comm
Spring at JBLanding
Magenta Pebbles No Comm
Magenta Pebbles
Willis Bridge No Comm
Willis Bridge
River Access No Comm
River Access

This is the river access at Willis Bridge. There is a parking area and a picnic table.

Limestone No Comm

The force of the water at higher levels has carved the limestone riverbanks.

Scouting the Drop No Comm
Scouting the Drop

Paddlers getting ready to run the section known as Look and Tremble

Paddling Down No Comm
Paddling Down
Tandem Going Over No Comm
Tandem Going Over
Splash No Comm
Safe Now No Comm
Safe Now
Little Yellow Kayak No Comm
Little Yellow Kayak
Smile of Success No Comm
Smile of Success
Long Blue Kayak No Comm
Long Blue Kayak
Made it Successfully No Comm
Made it Successfully
Long Yellow Kayak No Comm
Long Yellow Kayak
Lamb Eddy Landing No Comm
Lamb Eddy Landing
Paddling Accessory No Comm
Paddling Accessory

This is a photo of my most recent paddling accessory purchase, an all-wheel drive Forester.


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsFlorida Caverns State Park in Marianna, just up the road from Yancey Bridge and the beginning of the Chipola River Paddling Trail.

Post Date: 10/5/2008

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