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Blackwater River Report

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Report By:  ed    Date: 7/9/2006 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 6 photos     Map & Directions: View

It must have been the 30th time someone commented on my direction of travel. A studious looking chap asked how far to the Deaton bridge. ‘Bout 2 miles, I responded. His surprising reply, "In that case you’ve only got 24,998 to go".

My Report:

Sometimes does life feel like you’re swimming upstream? We all have those moments (or days or years…) Mine struck Sunday afternoon so I tossed the boat on the car and headed over to Blackwater River State Park, located about 30 miles northeast of Pensacola.

The plan was to put-in at Deaton Bridge and paddle upstream for 5 miles and return before dark. The day was beautiful. Upper 80’s and humidity levels were low. By now you should have figured out the folly in my plan - Sunday afternoon, Blackwater River, great weather and paddle upstream. You got it. Crowds of tubers and paddlers of every size, shape and color and they all had one thing in common. They were headed downstream.

The lack of rain has the Blackwater River running low and the water a very light tea colored brown. That’s tannin staining, not muck or pollution that tints the water. If you’ve never paddled the Blackwater, you’ll find one of the best (and longest) sand-bottom rivers in the world. On the section near Deaton Bridge, virtually every twist and turn has a nice large bright white sandbar to picnic, sunbathe or ram your canoe or tube into.

Starting at the parking lot on the south side of Deaton Bridge, I made it almost 50 feet when the first "Do you know you’re going the wrong direction?" was asked. Another 100 feet to the guy on a horse – yes horse – asking the same question. Dodging canoes, kayaks, rafts, tubes, swimmers and people walking in the water for the first 3 / 4 mile, I finally arrived at the state park’s riverside pavilions.

The pavilions make a convenient place to take a quick break. A nice wide beach, covered picnic tables and restrooms can be all yours – if you go weekdays. On weekends, expect to share.

My guess is I had as much, if not more fun going upstream into the sea of people than those floating the "normal" direction. Everyone was super friendly in that southern style that puts you at ease.

A few of the more interesting questions: "How long will it take me to get to the bridge?" Ummmm… crystal ball says one hour. Two bikini-clad very attractive co-eds in a rental canoe, after ramming into yet another riverbank, "How many more turns until we get to a straight part?". And my favorite, "How many miles to the Deaton Bridge?". After answering 2 miles, my inquisitor stated "In that case you’ve only got 24,998 to go."

At mile three and 4:30pm, the crowds died down substantially. In fact, I didn’t see another soul the last hour heading upstream. Finally hitting 5.07 miles (give or take a few feet), I stopped at a small sandbar island in the middle of the river. Good enough for the day and I wanted to get back before dark.

The trip downriver was quiet. I few more birds and animals poked their heads out and I only saw one family on the water, near the state park. The current was running about 2 MPH, giving me an upstream average of 2 MPH and a bit over 5 MPH downstream.

All-in-all, a great trip. Lots of sunshine, clear, cool water, bright white sand and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Moderate
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 10
Fees/Costs $: $3

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

Kayak Parking Restricted
Kayak Parking

From the Deaton Bridge. Takeout point for the local outfitters.

Blackwater River Restricted
Blackwater River

Perfect weather, white sand, cool, clear water. Who could ask for more?

Blackwater Reeds Restricted
Blackwater Reeds

Summertime reeds on the Blackwater River.

Blackwater Camping Restricted
Blackwater Camping

Tall sandbars make a great place to camp. Blackwater River near Pensacola.

Ready to Launch Restricted
Ready to Launch

My Current Designs Kestrel ready to launch on Blackwater River.

Oh Blackwater Restricted
Oh Blackwater

Mississippi Moon gonna keep on rising if I don't get to the take-out soon! Awesome bronze color from the setting sun.


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsBlackwater River State Park has camping, swimming, fishing and of course, paddling. Nice, clean facilities.

Post Date: 7/10/2006

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