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Burnt Mill Creek Report
(Burnt Mill Creek at West Bay)

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 8/23/2009 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 14 photos     Map & Directions: View

This paddle was downstream from a boat ramp south of 388 toward West Bay. At the mouth of West Bay one can paddle east into an abandoned shrimp farm with a berm that protects the area from the open waters of West Bay.

My Report:

This paddle was a scouting paddle for the West Florida Canoe and Kayak Club who will be paddling in the area in a couple of weeks. A friend from the Panama City Kayaking club agreed to be my guide. I arrived at the boat ramp and unloaded my canoe, and Len paddled down from his house on Burnt Mill Creek to meet me. I had intended to paddle upstream, but Len wanted me to see an area that was a favorite of his, so we headed downstream toward West Bay. The park and boat landing is owned by St. Joe Company and is unique in that it has two launching sites. One is a paved boat ramp with a floating dock for motor boats, the second is a gravel drive to a sandy, open launching spot for kayaks and canoes. Truly a paddler's dream.

Burnt Mill Creek is a tidally influenced stream, and has a deep channel. Even though it looks broad, one can't paddle everywhere, and watching for the channel is important. Len mentioned shallow areas one could get stuck in the mud, and also oyster beds that could damage paddlecraft.

We headed toward a point on the east side of the creek right before the open water of West Bay. There is a small opening into a unique area. In the seventies a company operated a shrimp farm. Without strong wetland protection laws in place, they dredged a channel and created a berm about three miles long which protected the shallow water from West Bay. The company has since ceased business, and we found signs placed on the berms (recently according to Len who has camped in the area) which says "No Trespassing" because the land is under a conservation easement owned by the FDEP.

When we needed to get out for a early lunch break, I suggested we paddle across the open water to the mainland side of the protected lagoon. The water was very shallow, so we got out and pulled our boats and waded a portion of the way. I found out that was the time to remember the advice from my Master Naturalist Class and do the "Stingray Shuffle" I must have seen 8 stingrays, the most exciting one seemed to want to hide under my canoe and was coming straight toward me. The rest took off with a flip of their wings. This was a nice spot for a break, and Len found areas appropriate for future camping on unposted land.

While we were trying to decide if there was a small alligator in the lagoon, a strong wind started blowing. Len decided we would not paddle out into West Bay as he had first planned, but retrace our original paddling trail. We had a couple miles of paddling into the wind, and then, for me, things got even more exciting. We were in open water with about a foot chop and strong wind. Len was in a 17 ft Current Designs kayak and said "this isn't bad". I had a different opinion since it wasn't the type of paddling I usually do but I put my bow into the waves and paddled steadily across a mile or more of open water to reach the channel. When we finally reached the mouth of the creek and moved up into it, things were a little easier.

I am going to give this paddle a 4, but suggest that it is best for people who enjoy open water, bright sunshine, and paddle kayaks. I am not recommending it as a paddle for the WFCKC who enjoy downstream creeks and rivers. Now I still have the fun of looking forward to a paddle UP Burnt Mill Creek.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: Saltwater
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 6.7
Fees/Costs $: free

Photos from Burnt Mill Creek at West Bay:    (Click image to view full size)

Boat Launch No Comm
Boat Launch

This is the boat launch we used for my canoe. A lovely spot with a gravel drive down to the water to unload my canoe, and a flat, solid spot to enter my boat.

Paved Boat Ramp No Comm
Paved Boat Ramp

This is the paved boat ramp with floating dock for motor boats on

Monofiliment Disposa No Comm
Monofiliment Disposa

It is important that fishermen dispose of monofiliment line so wildlife don't get tangled up in it.

Len Arriving No Comm
Len Arriving

My guide for the paddle arrived by paddling down the creek from his waterfront home.

Downstream View No Comm
Downstream View

Looking downstream from the canoe and kayak launching spot.

Heading Out No Comm
Heading Out

A view as we paddled down the creek toward West Bay.

Dredged Berms No Comm
Dredged Berms

The dredged berms protect the lagoon waters from the open water of West Bay.

Feeding Birds No Comm
Feeding Birds

There is a deep channel right next to the berm, but most of the water in the area is very shallow.

View across West Bay No Comm
View across West Bay

Before we discovered the No Trespassing signs, we climbed to the top of the berm and looked across West Bay at the Condos on Panama City Beach.

Low Tide No Comm
Low Tide

Low tide on the West Bay side.

Mass of Hermit Crabs No Comm
Mass of Hermit Crabs

The Hermit Crabs couldn't escape because they were trapped by the steep bank.

PCB Condos No Comm
PCB Condos
Abandoned Structure No Comm
Abandoned Structure

In many places there were remains from the abandoned shrimp farm.

Shrimp Boats No Comm
Shrimp Boats

These two boats are anchored in Burnt Mill Creek close to the boat ramp.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsPanama City Beach with sugar white sands is about 10 miles away.

Post Date: 8/23/2009

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