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Chipola River Report
(Chipola River at Scott's Ferry)

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 10/23/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 13 photos     Map & Directions: View

This is a report of a 14 mile paddle on the Chipola River from SR 20 west of Blountstown to Scott's Ferry which has a campground, canoe and kayak rental, cabins, and a general store.

My Report:

I often have mixed emotions about paddles, excitement and apprehension. This time it was mostly apprehension. I knew the weather forecast predicted rain, that the paddle was 14 miles in length, that I had never paddled that far, that the main body of water split into many different paths in an area misnamed Ward "Lake"; so many negative thoughts were running through my head. The fellow who offered to be my guide gave me two chances to back out, but with a busy schedule in weeks ahead I decided to give it my best shot.

We met in Marianna at 7:00 a.m. and drove down to the landing at SR 20. My husband accompanied us so he could stay with the boats while we took a vehicle down to Scott's Ferry. Here's to non-paddling mates that provide a support system! There are ways that we could have managed with just two cars, but it was nice at the end of the paddle to load both boats on the SUV and head to my car and not have to go back to Scott's Ferry to load a canoe.

By 8:30 we had finished taking a vehicle to Scott's Ferry, and started paddling. The river is wide and broad with no obstructions and paddling was easy. In two hours we had paddled about 7.5 miles with a moving average of 3.6 mph. I was elated because I thought I would do good to average three miles per hour. We took our only break at this point, close to a private landing that has been leased to Calhoun County. It is called Jehue Landing and there is a road sign indicating the turn to the landing on SR 71.

We continued downstream for about four more miles and came to an area called Ward Lake. It doesn't resemble a lake, but rather is a low-land area where the river splits into many different channels, not all at once but in different spots. There was a large red sign on one tree and we took the right branch at that spot, then there was another large yellow sign and a wooden sign which said Ward Lake and again we chose the right channel. It was surrealistic. First we were paddling in a large, broad, eight foot deep river, than in a small river about 2 feet deep, and eventually in a very small creek with reeds on each side. There was a sandy bottom, and the water was about six inches deep. We had to carefully pick the path so we didn't ground.

Seems like many of my recent paddles have had pull-overs, and this one was no exception. The creek was blocked by the top branches of a large tree. Since it was so shallow, we picked our way through the branches in the water, and pulled the boats over a couple small limbs. If I had been with my saw-welding friends they would have made short work of this minor obstruction.

There were several historical remnants of past river traffic. In one area there were parallel rows of posts for quite a distance. These posts had once held a dock for boats that plied the river. In another spot there were more posts on each side of the river, a few still quite tall. These had been the supports for a railroad bridge. We spotted an eagle, an osprey, a young deer laying in the grass close to the river, a cormorant, and a vulture. The river flows through natural surrounds for most of the paddle with a few river camps and houses scattered along the way. For the entire paddle there were less than a dozen houses. As on previous Chipola paddles, I saw some strange debris in the river, a metal bedframe, a stove, and a kitchen sink were all caught on a tree. Probably from a derelict houseboat that we found abandoned further on down the stream. Shortly before the end of the paddle, the river began to reassemble itself. Different streams joined together until it looked like the normal Chipola River. We looked up and saw the Scott's Ferry Bridge high above the water, and the cabins and landing on the right side of the river.

The total distance paddled was 14.1 miles in 4 hrs and 21 minutes of moving time. We made it to the take-out just in time, because as we started loading our boats and gear it started raining, and as I drove home snug and toasty in my car with the heater warming me, the rain came down in earnest. It was a very easy paddle, although I did add to a couple callouses on my right hand. I think it is time for new paddling gloves, the ones I have are well used and wrinkle, causing the irritation.

Here are the directions for the shuttle to Scott's Ferry from SR 20 Boat Landing:
Take SR 20 East one mile, turn right at the blinker light onto CR 275 which will reach SR 71. At that junction, turn Right and continue south to Scott's Ferry General Store and Campground is on the Right. It is about a 10 mile shuttle on paved roads.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 14.1
Fees/Costs $: free

Photos from Chipola River at Scott's Ferry:    (Click image to view full size)

Empty Nest No Comm
Empty Nest

A varmint, possibly a racoon, had dug up the turtle nest and eaten all the eggs. The shells were scattered in a large area.

Sandy Landing No Comm
Sandy Landing

This nice area to get out for a stretch is located 7.5 miles from the SR 20 bridge. We reached it in two hours of paddling.

View from the Hill No Comm
View from the Hill

Here is the Chipola before it splits into many branches

Beck Lake No Comm
Beck Lake

There are large backwater areas of the river that locals have named "Lakes".

Beck Lake View No Comm
Beck Lake View

Beck Lake is just a large area of water off the main flowing stream.

Reflectors No Comm

We took the right branch of the river here and also at the large red square.

Summer River Camp No Comm
Summer River Camp

Someone created a place for summer frolic on the river.

Boat House No Comm
Boat House

This is the boat house connected to the Summer River Camp

Shallow Stream No Comm
Shallow Stream

The Chipola keeps dividing until we were in a very shallow, sandy creek.

Pull-Over No Comm

This really didn't take directions, and both paddlers made it through this tree without difficulty.

Remains of a Dock No Comm
Remains of a Dock

These remains have been here for decades, remnants of a time when goods were transported on the Chipola

Scott's Ferry Bridg No Comm
Scott's Ferry Bridg

Notice how the Chipola has become one large river. The slate gray color of the river reflected the sky right before a heavy rain came down.

Take-Out No Comm

A brochure says there is a boat launch fee of $3.00, but the owner allowed us to leave a vehicle and take-out for free. One should inquire.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsScott's Ferry General Store and Campground has canoes and kayaks for rent at a very reasonable price, and there are cabins and camping sites available.

Post Date: 10/23/2008

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