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Crooked Creek Report
(Crooked Creek near West Bay)

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 6/30/2009 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 14 photos     Map & Directions: View

Crooked Creek is a short, tidally influenced creek that flows into West Bay close to Panama City Beach. It is a slow moving stream with natural surroundings.

My Report:

When I was on a field trip in the St. Joe development called River Camps we walked to Crooked Creek. I was impressed with the beauty of the blackwater stream and wanted to do a paddle on it. First I found a rough boat ramp at the SR 388 bridge that the public could use, then I talked to other padders to gather information. Some of it was a little confusing because in Pine Log State Forest there is another small stream that paddlers use which is labeled Little Crooked Creek on the Gazeteer, but the rangers referred to as Crooked Creek. After a flurry of e-mails, that detail was sorted out, and Gpax used his technical skills to advise me that we would be able to paddle 2.3 miles upstream.

Six people joined me for this exploration. One surprise awaited us when we arrived. Since SR 388 is where the new Panama City Beach Airport is being built, the state is preparing to pave the road, and had already install the black plastic barriers to prevent pollution from reaching the river, so we couldn't reach the boat ramp as planned. Several of the drivers had vehicles with 4-wheel drive, and we loaded boats up on those trucks which could drive down to the boat ramp, and we didn't have to carry our boats such a long distance to the put-in.

Crooked Creek was even better than I had hoped for. It flows through a beautiful natural landscape. Sometimes there were marsh reeds, but in other places definite banks rising 20 or 30 feet up from the river. There were only a couple spots that a person could land, and take a break but since it was such a short paddle this isn't a problem.

Gpax's calculation were right on the money. At 2.33 miles on my GPS the stream had narrowed and the bushes were overhanging so that it was difficult to paddle. We found a wide opening and turned around and headed back downstream. The paddling wasn't difficult even though the tide was going out. It is a stream where one doesn't have to paddle against a current going upstream, at the same time there isn't any current going downstream either.

Even though the water is tinted dark by the tannins leached from trees in the swamp, the water is clear and we swam at our lunch stop. I had found a underwater log and was standing on it, when I noticed a distinct difference in the water temperature. On top the water was cool, but underneath my waist the water was significantly warmer. Then I recalled that when fresh water and salt water mixes, the salt water sinks to the bottom. Since we were only 3 miles north of West Bay which had a water temperature of 84 degrees, as the tides came in the warmer salt water came into the stream.

There were beautiful flowers along the side of the stream.We saw two Osprey nests waiting for another mating season, and also two small herons silhouetted against the sky. Since we were looking into the sun to see them, we couldn't make out which species the birds belonged to. One of our group took a tire out of the river and hauled it back to his truck for disposal, and there were a few cans or bottles to retrieve, but very little visible litter.

What I realized as I enjoyed the solitude of the creek was that a year from now when the Panama City Airport is finished, it will be a very noisy place to paddle with planes taking off and landing very close by.

Gpax has posted photos of the Crooked Creek paddle, click on Photos in the left side bar to see additional pictures taken during the paddle.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 4.6
Fees/Costs $: free

Photos from Crooked Creek near West Bay:    (Click image to view full size)

Boat Ramp and Put-In No Comm
Boat Ramp and Put-In

Gpax is getting his paddle leash untangled prior to the paddle.

We're Off No Comm
We're Off

Leaving the bridge and boat ramp and heading upstream.

Beginning Scene No Comm
Beginning Scene
Swamp Lilies No Comm
Swamp Lilies

Crinum americanum or Swamp Lily. These flowers were blooming in many places in the edge of the stream.

Another blossom No Comm
Another blossom

Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow or Hibiscus moscheutos

High Banks No Comm
High Banks

There were many places with banks like this along the creek.

Narrowing Stream No Comm
Narrowing Stream
Osprey Nest No Comm
Osprey Nest
Marsh Reeds No Comm
Marsh Reeds
Paddling Pearls No Comm
Paddling Pearls

Michele told us "These are my paddling pearls"

Pink Flowers No Comm
Pink Flowers

These pink flowers may be Large Flower Rosegentian

Upstream No Comm

The stream is smaller and the vegetation is closing in.

Always Hopeful No Comm
Always Hopeful

John fishes whenever we paddle, can't recall that he ever caught anything. He says it is because we paddle too fast.

Trash Retrieved No Comm
Trash Retrieved

One tire taken from the river for proper disposal.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsA sea kayaker said that a good paddle is to put in at the 388 bridge on Crooked Creek, paddle downstream into West Bay, head east until one comes to Burnt Mill Creek and paddle up to a boat ramp on South Burnt Mill Creek Road.

Post Date: 7/2/2009

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