Starting north of Marianna the spring-fed river runs through the Florida Caverns State Park and is part of Florida Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. The 52 mile canoe trail ends at Scott's Ferry, near the Dead Lakes.
(Chipola River Sink Boat Ramp) The Chipola River Sink Boat Ramp, parking area and launch is in the Florida Caverns State Park canoe rental area. This was a round trip to the springs, about 1 mile upstream from the boat launch.
Don't know about great blues, but young blue herons are white. Like young, brown and white ibis, in Central Florida I see them pretty much year round. Both yellow crowned and black crowned night herons are kind of a stripped brown when young. Brown pelicans are white at birth. Moor hens are dull grey before turning dark blue/black with the bright red beak.. I'm sure others can add more
Frances, I enjoyed the trip report. I've never been on the section with Look and Tremble rapid. The cave looked interesting, too. I'll have to come over and join you on that section before too long. There are just so many good trips to do.
I paddled all my boat into the cave, but there was a fork with water on each side. I assume if I had tried swimming (or possibly wading) with a headlamp I might have gone to another opening. One doesn't see it when the water is up three or four feet.
Frances - nice trip report, good photos and glad to see that you met up with Nate and Pat. I didn't know that you and Nate had never paddled before so that's great that you had a chance to meet in person. Really like the idea of paddling into a cave. Did it go back any distance at all?
That was a great paddle with Brian and Andrew. It was the first spring paddle this year when all the hardwood trees had new, green leaves, and the reflection in the river made the river look green. The Chipola is primarily an alluvial stream, although it is fed by over 60 springs, so is only clear after weeks of no rain.
No, I wasn't joking about the Dolomite mines just a few hundred yards from the river. They did have a pond, and a yellow barrier to prevent the run-off from contaminating the river, and the run-off looked as clear as spring water. But the cows wading in the river, and the run-off from the two pastures isn't all that great for water quality, and the water being pumped for irrigation purposes is illegal. There is very little enforcement of sound environmental practices in this area.