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Econfina Creek Report
(Econfina at Walsingham Bridge)

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Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 10/4/2009 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 20 photos     Map & Directions: View

This stretch of Econfina Creek is what I informally refer to as the "middle stretch". It is a seven mile paddle from Walsingham Bridge in the Econfina Water Management Area to SR 20. It is in a remote location and has numerous springs to explor~

My Report:

The West Florida Canoe and Kayak Club held a week-end of camping at Falling Waters State Park and paddled for 4 consecutive days. On Sunday, Oct 4 the selected paddle was the Walsingham Bridge to SR 20 stretch of Econfina Creek near Panama City. I drove over from Marianna for the paddle, meeting the campers at the intersection of SR 20 and Strickland Road. First we traveled east past the bridge and left several vehicles in the Water Management Parking Lot on the North side of SR 20, and then I led the shuttle to Walsingham Bridge.

The web brochure about the Econfina Water Management Area mentions that the roads to the put-in might require 4-wheeled drive. I have traveled there at least 8 times in a car or a pick-up truck without 4-wheel drive. It can be sandy when dry, and another paddler said after heavy rains it can be muddy. The last stretch which is Walsingham Bridge Road has some eroded ruts from run-off, but slowing down and watching for the bumps is sufficient.

The Canoe Launch at Walsingham Bridge has been designed to protect the environment. There is a paved path to the put-in, and a 2-4 ft drop to the water, depending on water levels. A wall has been erected on one side to prevent sand from eroding into the water from the use by paddlers or swimmers. With some cooperation and a launching assistant who stood in the water and held the canoes and kayaks until everyone was afloat, the group managed quite nicely.

This is an extremely remote area but well-known to locals, so I removed my T-bar and locked it in the truck, and everyone was careful not to leave anything visible in their vehicles that might encourage a break-in. One couple had camped at the primitive camp-ground at Walsingham Bridge and said that people came on 4-wheelers around midnight, disturbing the peace and tranquility.

This was a first paddle for most of the group. One couple had paddled it a couple weeks prior and done some cutting, so the first five miles were all open water and it was an easy, delightful paddle. One of the main attractions is the many springs along the creek, some of them up small spring runs, others bubbling up right in the creek itself. We got out and walked up some of the runs to find the springs. Most of these springs were on the right side of the creek, but eventually we found a large spring run, as wide as Econfina Creek, on the left. This is the way to Blue Springs and a camping area. It is an open paddle up to the main area, and there is a wide set of steps coming down to the circular pond-like area. At one time there had been a Boy Scout Camp at this location.

We met campers with children who were swimming in the spring. It was a shallow area, and it appeared that the water was coming from two spring caves. Here is a description of the area from a website about Washington Blue Springs Group:

"Summary of Features
Scale - 2nd magnitude
Scenery - fine
How Pristine? - retaining wall around main spring, some trash and cleared land, otherwise fairly pristine
Swimming - very good
Protection - excellent
Crowds - small
Access - fair/moderately arduous by water; fine but limited by land, permit only
Facilities - good
Safety - very good
Scuba - no
Cost - free by canoe, camping fee for land access"

The problem with camping at this area is that it is so popular that one has to apply on January 1 of each year, and names are drawn for the opportunity to use the camping facility. Only tents and pop-up campers are allowed, and up to 25 people can use the camping area at one time.

After a swim in the spring fed pond, and a little foolishness exploring the spring cave and posing for pictures, it was time to continue downstream. The group split up, and I chose to paddle by myself, which meant that when I came to three pull-overs I got to do them by myself. After the paddle the couple who had been cutting on the creek said they had gone at a higher water level and were able to get through without getting out of their boats. With shallow, clear water, warm weather, and a sandy bottom, things weren't difficult. Paddlers need to know that they will have to get in the water, as the banks are fairly steep, and not conducive to pulling over on land.

At the end of the paddle there are two choices for getting out. One can use the floating dock, climbing up a ladder extending into the current of the stream, and hauling the boat down a long board walk to a pick-up spot, or go under the bridge and take out at the right side. Then one needs to walk to the parking area and drive the vehicle down a drive on the SW corner of the bridge to pick up the paddling craft. That was the choice three of us made, the others used the floating dock.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 7.4
Fees/Costs $: free

Photos from Econfina at Walsingham Bridge:    (Click image to view full size)

Chief Assistant No Comm
Chief Assistant
Getting More Boats No Comm
Getting More Boats
Team Work No Comm
Team Work
On the Water No Comm
On the Water
Team Work II No Comm
Team Work II
Team Work III No Comm
Team Work III
Mission Accomplished No Comm
Mission Accomplished
Heading Down Stream No Comm
Heading Down Stream
Avoiding Brush No Comm
Avoiding Brush
Small Spring No Comm
Small Spring
Eroding Bank No Comm
Eroding Bank

This is the type of erosion that the wall is preventing at the launching area. All the sand washing into the creek is detrimental to wildlife.

House by the Creek No Comm
House by the Creek
Spring in the Woods No Comm
Spring in the Woods
Uplands No Comm

The creek is surrounding by hardwood uplands, and some limestone rocks. There are not many places for a group to take a break together

Solo Mohawks. No Comm
Solo Mohawks.

Mohawk canoes lined up at the lunch break.

Blue Springs No Comm
Blue Springs

Since there are many "Blue Springs" in the state, the correct designation for this one is Washington Blue Springs since it is in Washington County.

Campers and Club No Comm
Campers and Club

The steps the campers can use to swim in the springs.

Campers II No Comm
Campers II
Spring Cave No Comm
Spring Cave

The water appears to come from this and another spring cave opening. I am emerging after exploring inside the cave.

Blue Springs Run No Comm
Blue Springs Run

The group paddled back down Blue Springs run to the Econfina and down to the infamous Floating Canoe Launch and Dock

Post Date: 10/9/2009

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