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Econfina Creek Report
(~Hwy 20 to CR 388)

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Report By:  slashpine    Date: 7/16/2010 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 4 photos     Map & Directions: View

Trip from the Econfina Creek Canoe Livery to County Road 388 bridge.

My Report:

We were looking forward to Paddlesolo’s expertise on this trip, but, as she put in an email, “Life has other plans” for her, and a small crew set off (without her) from the Econfina Creek Canoe Livery at about 9.30 a.m. We hoped to have the trip to ourselves, but it was a busy day (Friday). Cost of transport was $20 per boat. Additional cost for one rental ($45). The woman at the livery said the creek was running fast because of the previous day’s storms and didn’t know how the springs would look. The creek was muddy when we set off.

Williford Springs comes quickly. It’s a large area with picnic benches and portable toilets. From the livery it seems too close for a break. But if one were traveling from farther up the creek it would make a great picnic spot. We brought masks and took turns diving down toward the vent. The push from this spring (as our fellow paddlers commented) is nearly too strong to get anywhere near the opening.

More amazing was the change from the thick muddy creek, gray and brown, to the sudden clear blue water of the springs. We stayed at Williford to swim (it was cold) and then paddled to the next spring. One thing perhaps overlooked is the vegetation along the creek. As we left we noticed a green mist rising about two feet off the surface of the water. The allure of the springs makes it possible to miss the wonderful magnolia and palm trees that overhang the main creek’s path. There’s a primordial feel to the scenery if you can get away from fellow travelers and sink into the stillness of the ancient. The imagination evokes the Apalachee running through the understory to various waterholes (springs).

Next we came to Sylvan Spring. The water here was milky (imagine milk in tea or coffee) and where clear and murky water met we could see a swirly smoky texture. Some springs were more difficult to find than others, requiring paddling a ways off the main creek. Just north of the Hwy 20 bridge we came to Pitt Spring. This spring is a recreational area. But it was blocked off because some work was being done to it. An island separates the creek. On the eastern side there are ramps leading to the creek (a put in spot).

We floated into Gainer Spring (south of the Hwy 20 bridge) past large limestone walls decked out in bright green fern. Gainer Spring, like Sylvan and some others, are “spring groups,” that is, in a small area there are several vents where water surfaces from below ground. A number of paddlers had already reached this spot. The land surrounding the spring is private and, we were told, a security officer patrols the area (we didn’t see him/her). We snacked and swam a bit and then went to the next spring in the group. This was probably the more fascinating of all the springs. A 25 foot bluff rises from the water but there’s also a cove carved into the bank. About 12 feet below a strong boil comes from the vent. We swam over watching fish below. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a snorkel, or the view would have lasted much longer.

Across from this spring is another on the eastern shore. A small motor boat (complete with bathing beauty perched on the bow) competed with us for access to these springs. Needless to say we got the worst of the it, including fumes from the motor to paddle through. To get to the springs in this section we had to paddle along water trails and then return down different branches.

There are no more springs after the Gainer Spring group. The trip to the CR 388 bridge is fairly long and anticlimactic, if one is overly excited about the springs, less interested in the variety of flora along the banks. The stream was swift with few hindrances, so we floated at our leisure until thunder began cracking close by. Then rain pelted us for the remainder of the trip. In spite of the rain and thunder (lightning was not visible, but where there’s thunder...) and wet conditions we still managed to enjoy the limestone formations along the banks. Houses and other structures are few, making the flora the main attraction.

At CR 388 we got out on the northwestern side of the bridge. Since it was raining we stood beneath the bridge. The livery van ran shuttles every 30 minutes or so (it seemed), and we were back to our vehicles in no time.

The only question remaining was how to pronounce the creek. For years I called it Econ-fee-na. Then I heard someone say Econ-fine-na. But the livery driver said into his walkie-talkie Econ-fay-na. I’m waiting for Paddlesolo to clear this one up.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): ~8
Fees/Costs $: $20/boat

Photos from ~Hwy 20 to CR 388:    (Click image to view full size)

under limb No Comm
under limb
soupy No Comm
milky No Comm
over spring No Comm
over spring

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsBring mask, snorkel (and flippers maybe) to see springs.

Post Date: 7/19/2010

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