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Econfina Creek Report
(Econfina Creek - Livery to 388)


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Report By:  quincypair    Date: 10/7/2012 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 14 photos     Map & Directions: View


This is the lower section of the Econfina, a State Designated Paddling Trail.

My Report:

This section of Econfina Creek is one of the paddles offered at the 2012 Florida Paddler's Rendezvous on October 18-21, 2012 in Marianna. For information on the Rendezvous, google Apalachee Canoe and Kayak Club, this year's club organizer.


Seven members of the ACKC joined the trip leader and sweeper for the Rendezvous to do another test run of the river. All were in kayaks. Since the no fee put-in on Highway 20 is almost impossible for kayakers to enter their craft, the livery on Strickland Road was selected as the put-in spot. While the ACKC groups was shuttling their cars to the take-out another group of paddlers, all canoers, arrived to put-in.

The water of the Econfina is weak tea color (tannin), but clear. At the put-in the water was clear and the depth of the water made for easy entry into the kayaks. The river here is relatively narrow and tested the ability of the canoers and the kayakers to sort themselves out, but soon after we were on our way. Within half a mile we turned right into Williford spring -- crystal clear water, lovely foliage and shrubs and trees, still green and cooling -- it was getting into the mid-80's near noon. Three quarters of a mile downstream later we came to the opening for Sylvan Springs. An observant paddler noticed a water mocassin, camouflaged by fallen branches. Either of these springs would make for a delightful swim, particularly on a hot day as today -- just watch the water's edge.

Two and one half miles from put-in we turned into Gainer Spring, a large spring also good for swimming. Three kayakers were already there, their kayaks parked in the shallows. They had set up their canvas picnic chairs in the water and were proceeding to cook their lunch on a boulder-table by spring's edge -- tortillas with an aromatic filling. A Georgia paddler and her Panhandle friends were enjoying a Sunday paddle and picnic here and we stopped to chat with the two friendly women, their male friend silently enjoying the shade of ferns and the coolness of the spring water on his legs. The private land above, a sign indicated, was in receivership, but they respected the private ownership nevertheless. Wouldn't it be great if the State of Florida or the Water Management District purchased this piece of land? In Knox County, Ohio, where we had recently paddled on the Mohican River, the county was in proceedings to purchased similarly impacted private property for use as a launching site. They plan to add rest facilities and other amenities for paddlers and others who come to walk the longest covered bridge in Ohio, The Bridge of Dreams, which is above the launch area.

We stopped for lunch, we think where Paddlesolo in her 2009 report also stopped for lunch with her group. A shallow, clear water nook, perfect for sitting on your kayak and dangling your legs, sitting on paddling stools in the water, or sitting on land. It could accommodate many more lunching paddlers. This spot is 2.7 miles from put-in.

The river in this section is not as challenging as the stretches directly above it, but it does have navigable water more reliably and it is not a river where one floats obliviously. There are fallen trees and water slogged branches which require vigilance and it is winding. At 6.6 miles we came across a tree which had fallen the width of the river and required a limbo. We cut some branches to enable a higher limbo for canoers near the shore, but those who select an opening nearer to the middle of the tree should be aware that there is a branch stub on the downriver side of the tree which we were not able to cut. It is not immediately noticeable until one is almost under the tree, after which it may be too late to do anything but duck. One of our paddlers capsized, another nearly had his hat pitched into the river. Hopeful someone with a larger saw will cut this piece off -- it is dangerous. This river, however, is very well maintained and is passable throughout in this section. We saw one algae encrusted large piece of floating styrofoam and one large half gallon orange juice bottle which was almost full of water and would soon have sunk into the sand. We recovered them for disposal later.

This being a Sunday, in addition to the canoers we met at the put-in, and, while we were getting ready to shuttle our cars to 388, a crew of about eight very young parents and zillions of children ages 4-12 showed up at the livery. They asked us about the put-in and when we mentioned that it cost $5 per boat, they inquired about a free launching area. We sent them to the Highway 20 launching area, they were all in canoes. They did not explore the springs, so we later saw them downriver -- the children were having a great time in the shallows, swimming and playing. At the take-out we had a chance to talk to some of the children -- there was a mass of boats there and we all had to take our turn. We asked them if they would like to be able to paddle their own boats someday and they were enthusiastically positive. What a great way for families to spend a Sunday! And we are thankful that we were able to show them where to get a free launch, thanks to the water management district.

This is a beautiful river to paddle. It's interesting enough for experienced paddlers. The springs add a special pristineness to the water and a special swimming experience. We did not see any tadpoles which Paddlesolo mentions in her report, but any self respecting frog mother should have laid her eggs way earlier than now. There were a lot of baby bream.

Rendezvous paddlers will enjoy this section of the Econfina.

On the way home on I-10 headed east, we were passed by a white compact car, windows painted with white paint " Miami To Louisiana to vote...(or something like this)" They were returning from voting, probably against Chavez. According to NPR the Venezuelan consulate in Miami was closed during the absentee voting period and New Orleans, apparently, was the closest other choice. Chavez won, but apparently his opponent had a chance. How many of us would drive that far to vote?

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 8.7
Fees/Costs $: 5 per boat


Photos from Econfina Creek - Livery to 388:    (Click image to view full size)

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Post Date: 10/13/2012

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