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Chipola River Report

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Report By:  ed    Date: 5/21/2006 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 3 photos     Map & Directions: View

Two friends from Colorado and I rented the park service's canoes for a great afternoon exploring Chipola River and springs near Florida Caverns State Park.

My Report:

Two friends from Colorado arrived in town a day earlier. Both were eager to go paddling in Northwest Florida and naturally I was all too happy to oblige. Now to select the perfect location. Some place that had calm water (since one of the two never paddled), great wildlife viewing, boat rentals and non-paddling diversions. The answer was obvious – Florida Caverns State Park.

We drove from Pensacola (about 2 hours / 130 miles). The park has canoe rentals for $15 / half-day. Assuming you’re going to wear a PFD, I’d recommend you bring your own as the park has the cheap orange ones. The canoes and paddles are adequate assuming that you’re not planning on going for miles and miles.

The canoe launch is located about midway through the park on the Chipola River. We carried the canoes down the short ramp and immediate turned up river. (You can’t go down river so this was an easy choice). We spotted a number of alligators from foot long babies to 7 or 8 foot adults. Most gators were content to let us pass by, but one decided he didn’t like our picture taking and sped off in a huff. The only thing more fun that watch a gator swimming in the water near you is watching people from Colorado who never saw a gator in the wild. Especially after all of the news about last week’s gator attacks in central / south Florida. To say they were a bit excited would be putting it mildly!

The springs are about 1.5 miles up river on the right side. The spring run is about 1 / 4 mile long and winds to a beautiful blue pool. We hopped out and went swimming. I couldn’t tell exactly, but the bottom of the pool must be more than 20 feet deep. A large fissure can easily be seen and explored with snorkeling gear. Two of us swam while the third stood “gator watch”. There is a second spring located about 50 feet behind the main pool, but you have to cross land (I think it’s private) so we didn’t explore that one.

Another spring is on the left side of the river about 100 yards upstream from the confluence of the first spring. Since the river was running high, this spring was murky and we didn’t stop. We continued upstream past more gators. Wanting to get back and swim at Blue Hole or check out the caverns, we headed back downstream.

Total trip time was about 3 hours and we paddled a bit over 4 miles An easy trip with lots of animal life. Just perfect for Sunday Northwest Florida afternoon.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 4
Fees/Costs $: $4 entry, $15 canoe

Photos from Chipola River:    (Click image to view full size)

Colorado Paddlers Restricted
Colorado Paddlers

Two friends from Colorado ready to paddle the Chipola River at Florida Caverns State Park.

Chipola Springs Restricted
Chipola Springs

Paddling a canoe over some springs on the Chipola River at Florida Caverns State Park.

Chipola River Restricted
Chipola River

Confluence of springs and Chipola River near Florida Caverns State Park.


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsOn the way back from Florida Caverns State Park we stopped at Sally's Restaurant in Ponce de Leon for dinner. As always, Sally's had great burgers, crisp, golden brown fries and cold beer waiting. Yum!

Post Date: 5/29/2006

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