NEW THIS SEASON!
Springtime on the Chipola
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March 17-23, 2021
Start: Florida Caverns State Park
3345 Caverns Rd, Marianna, FL 32446
End: Dead Lakes Recreation Area
Gary Rowell Rd, Wewahitchka, FL 32465
Total Distance: 70 miles
Full Trip Fees:
Includes camping, meals, and shuttle
- $600/seniors (65+) and college students
- Registration Deadline: February 28, 2021 or when trip capacity of 60 paddlers is reached
- Official Outfitter: TBD
|Day||Lunch Stop||Lunch Miles||Campsite||Daily Miles|
|1||N/A||N/A||Florida Caverns State Park||0|
|2||Hinson Conservation Area||4.5||Bear Paw Outfitters/Magnolia Bridge||10|
|3||Johnny Boy/Before Shoals||16.5||Lamb Eddy County Park||21|
|4||At Camp||7||SR 20 Bridge||7|
|5||At Camp||13||Scotts Ferry||13|
|6||At Camp||10||Cypress Creek Boat Ramp||10|
|7||End: Dead Lakes Recreational Area||9||9|
The Chipola River is a paddlers’ dream and has over 60 fresh water springs, the largest number of any river in Northwest Florida. The Chipola River is a tributary of the Apalachicola River in western Florida. It is part of the ACF River Basin watershed. The 92.5-mile-long (148.9 km) river crosses present-day Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf counties. The river flows through what is now preserved as the Dead Lakes State Recreation Area just before reaching its mouth at the confluence with the Apalachicola. The Dead Lakes were formed when the Apalachicola deposited sand bars blocking the mouth of the Chipola. We will be following the scenic 51-mile Chipola River Paddling Trail through high bluffs, river swamps and hardwood forests. The water alters color from clear gold to an opal-like blue, with crystal clear springs tucked along the river. Limestone bluffs and caves, part of the unique karst geology, add to the unique beauty of the Chipola River. We will also be paddling one of Florida’s most unique places – Dead Lakes, located in Wewahitchka, FL. We will visit this beautiful lake and its diverse ecosystem teeming with life amidst the skeletal remnants of the old forest which has given way to Cypress and Tupelo trees over time.
Evening Programs: Evening programs will include educational speakers and live music
Due to the financial outlay and costs incurred by Paddle Florida during event planning, any force majeure, which includes but is not limited to water levels, inclement weather, and any other Acts of God not mentioned herein, shall not result in the refund of any fees paid to Paddle Florida. Absolutely no fees will be refunded after 15 days before the event begins. Before each trip registration deadline, requests for fee refunds will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
***You will receive a confirmation email message 7 - 10 days before the event with all the latest details on the trip***
Shuttle Details: Paddlers will leave their vehicles at the launch point at Florida Caverns State Park for the duration of the trip. At the trip’s conclusion, paddlers and their boats and gear will be shuttled back to Florida Caverns State Park.
Boat & Gear Recommendations
Boat & Gear Recommendations: For this trip, we recommend PLASTIC sit-in kayaks of 14 feet or more in length equipped with a rudder or skeg and a spray skirt. There are several shoals including "Look and Tremble" rapids. You should also have solid kayaking, rescue, wet exit, and swimming skills. If you have any questions about the kind of environment you will encounter on this trip, please contact Bill Richards at Bill Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paddle Florida Policies
- All paddlers must attend the trip overview and orientation on the first evening. Paddlers must adhere to the safety guidelines presented.
- All paddlers must wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) and whistle at all times on the water.
- Paddlers under age 18 are the responsibility of, and must be accompanied by, a parent or guardian. No more than two children under the age of 12 per adult guardian.
- Sorry, no pets allowed.
- All paddlers must provide an emergency contact information and sign a Waiver of Claims and Release of Liability form. Parents must sign for their children under the age of 18.
- People-powered watercraft only.
- Paddle Florida adheres to all rules put forth by the public parks we stay in, including the ban on alcoholic beverages.
- All paddlers must respect private property along waterways.
- All paddlers must have basic paddling and swimming skills
- Violations of any of these policies can result in the paddler being removed from the event without refund.
Day 1/Wednesday, March 17: Florida Caverns State Park, Paddling Miles: 0
Paddle Florida participants will arrive between 1-5PM at Florida Caverns State Park to check in for the trip, set up their tents, eat dinner, and receive an orientation for the adventure to come. Florida Caverns State Park is a 1,300 acre sanctuary bordering both banks of the spring-fed Chipola River. The park’s primary attraction is its spectacular cave tour and Blue Hole Spring. Paddlers can explore the park and its two networks of nature trails before dinner. There is a short, scenic Visitor Center Trail that winds its way through towering hardwoods and limestone bluffs above the river floodplain. The Upper Chipola trails offer 6 miles of exploration for hikers and cyclists in the woodlands along the sparkling Chipola River
Keep in mind that the Panhandle at this time of year can be chilly, at least by Florida standards. Temperatures can range from 60-80 degrees during the day and 35-55 degrees at night, so bring layers to dress in. The fire each night will provide heat, light, ambiance, camaraderie, and maybe a marshmallow or two. Dinner will be served at 6PM each night, followed by an evening program at 7PM. Nightly entertainment ranges from musicians to educational speakers who will provide insights regarding the flora, fauna, and ecology of the region we’re paddling through. Be sure to bring cameras to capture and preserve some great moments.
Day 2/Thursday March 18: Yancey Bridge, CR 166 to Magnolia Bridge, Paddling Miles: 10
After a hearty breakfast, paddlers will pack up their tents, load their camping gear on our truck, and shuttle their boats to the Yancey Bridge Boat Ramp. We’ll travel 4.5 miles (heading south) to Hinson Conservation Area, where we will have lunch and then head to Bear Paw Outfitters/Magnolia Bridge to camp for the night. Hinson Conservation Area makes a great rest stop with hiking trails and picnic tables on high banks and is a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail. After lunch we will pass the Ovens, a beautiful cave with big limestone boulders and lots of moss This is a small dry cave that you can access from the river. Just past the Ovens you’ll reach Maud Spring and just south of there, Spring Creek. These are great places to snorkel so bring your mask and fins. We recommend you bring a flashlight or headlamp to enter the cave.
Day 3/Friday March 19: Magnolia Bridge Lamb Eddy County Park, Paddling Miles: 15
Today we’ll embark on a 15-mile paddle to Lamb Eddy County Park. You will pass Peacock Bridge on your way to lunch at Johnny Boy Landing. There are a few shoals between Peacock Bridge and Johnny Boy (water level dependent) and the Look & Tremble is between Johnny Boy and Lamb Eddy County Park. You can relax and set up camp at Lamb Eddy County Park before dinner at 6pm and evening program at 7pm.
Day 4/Saturday March 20 Lamb Eddy County Park to SR 20 Bridge, Paddling Miles: 7
Today we will have a short paddle to SR 20 bridge and lunch will be at camp. This is a nice easy paddle with a wide open river. The banks are steep in many places; there are hardwood forests with cypress trees and live oaks. We will be camping at the SR 20 bridge this evening with quaint covered picnic tables and views of the cypress trees.
Day 5/Sunday, March 21: SR 20 Bridge to Scotts Ferry, Paddling Miles: 13
On this day we will make our way to Scotts Ferry and have lunch when we get there. with lunch at Scotts Ferry. On today’s paddle you will notice the river widen and see more cypress and oak trees. We will set up camp in anticipation of dinner at 6pm, followed by our evening program.
Day 6/Monday, March 22: Scotts Ferry to Cypress Creek Boat Ramp, Paddling Miles: 10
After breakfast we will launch for the paddle to Cypress Creek Boat Ram. As we enter the Dead Lakes area, you will notice the water flow slow as we paddle through beautiful cypress knees and trees. The paddle up to the boat ramp is truly one of the most serene paddles you will ever experience. You are surrounded by these incredible trees. Breathtaking.
Day7/Tuesday, March 23: Cypress Creek Boat Ramp to Dead Lakes Recreational Area, Paddling Miles: 9
We'll paddle the beautiful Dead Lakes to our final destination, Dead Lakes Recreational Area in Wewahitchka. We’ll conclude our paddling adventure with a final celebration barbeque at the take out before the shuttle back to Florida Caverns State Park.
PADDLE FLORIDA is a non-profit corporation that promotes water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection via fun and educational multi-day paddling trips in Florida’s most spectacular river and coastal environments. The vehicle for carrying out this mission is the staging of the multi-day paddling/camping trips in each of Florida’s five water management districts from October to April each year. Paddle Florida also seeks to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism in general, and paddling in particular.
Ranging from three to six days, trips are open to all paddling skill levels and designed to maximize enjoyment of Florida’s natural environments while engaging and empowering citizens so that they may become involved in the protection and restoration of our waterways.
If you wish to be pampered by professional guides, this isn’t the trip for you. But, if you want to experience a real community brought together under a common goal and by the thrill of adventure, Paddle Florida is the trip for you
The Meal Plan
Your Paddle Florida trip fee covers the meal plan, which provides hearty catered breakfasts and dinners, plus daily lunch snacks of assorted fruits, sandwich items, snacks, and drinks.
Each paddler is limited to two bags and a total of 40-pounds of luggage. You have to haul your baggage and place it in the gear truck each morning, and haul it back to your campsite each evening of the trip. After paddling all day (about 8,000 paddle strokes per day), a 40-pound bag is really heavy. We recommend you pack as lightly and tightly as possible. This saves your back and the backs of your fellow paddlers. Everyone is expected to assist with the loading and unloading of the truck during the week.
Items we would rather not see in your luggage include bulky chaise lounge chairs, framed bedding/cots, and boxes without tops. Your gear should be packed so that it will not get wet. In the afternoon, your baggage may be removed and placed outside the gear truck where it will be exposed to the elements. Overnight rains may result in gear being packed up wet. A wet tent on top of your clothes bag will result in wet clothes. Plan on inclement weather and make sure you have a bag that will protect important gear in the event of rain.
Please place a label on your luggage with your name on it and make sure your bags are secure.
Suggested Packing Lists
For Water: [Note: Unless you’re wearing it, every item you bring should be secured to your boat. Carabiners and bungee cords can be handy devices for this purpose.]
- Boat and paddle. Need to rent? Contact TBD.
- PFD. Every Paddle Florida participant must wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device while on the river (no ifs, ands, or buts).
- Every kayak and canoe should have two lines, a bow line and a stern line, each 8-10 feet in length, secured in such a way that they are readily accessible, but cannot come loose accidentally. Loose ropes increase the risk of entanglement in the event of a capsize. Kayaks should have grab-loops at both bow and stern.
- An extra throw rope in case of emergencies should be stored safely in each boat.
- Attach a whistle to your PFD or body to signal for help in case of emergency.
- A knife.
- Waterproof matches or other fire source in waterproof covering.
- First aid kit—each vessel should bring a first aid kit stored inside a waterproof covering.
- Repair kit—each vessel should be able to make their own repairs (i.e., duct tape, sealant, waterproof tape).
- Rain gear—be prepared to get wet and potentially cold. Every participant should have access to a lightweight jacket or fleece, rain jacket, and rain pants or kayak skirt.
- Dry change of clothes—be prepared to take an unexpected swim. Every participant should have access to a dry change of clothes kept in a waterproof covering.
- Appropriate close-toed footwear that will protect your feet from unseen underwater hazards and permit you to walk comfortably on slippery and jagged limestone when launching and taking out. Flip flops do not meet these criteria.
- Sun protection—sunburn might be the trip’s biggest hazard. Bring ample sunscreen and wear a protective hat and sunglasses.
- Mask and snorkel? You’ll be paddling by a dozen or so springs on this trip. Explore them!
- Water—drinking water will be readily available along the Paddle Florida route. Bring sufficient water bottles for the day’s paddle for everyone in your boat.
- Food—there is little access to restaurants or grocery stores along the Paddle Florida route. Lunch snacks each day are provided to registered participants. You may also want to bring along your own snacks.
- Dry Bag or Ziploc—bring a waterproof bag to protect additional items you don’t want to get wet, like your camera or cell phone.
- GPS unit? We’ll give you a map, but a GPS unit might also be handy to note locations of campsites and springs.
- Sleeping bag, pad, and pillow
- Camp chair
- Clothes to keep you comfortable in temperatures generally ranging from 50-85 degrees. Think layers. You’ll likely be wearing more during potentially chilly mornings, then peeling off layers as the day progresses. Remember dry shoes for when you’re in camp and keep in mind there are often hiking trails available at the parks we camp in.
- Bathing suit, plus maybe a mask, snorkel, and/or fins. You will be paddling and camping near some of the state’s most beautiful first-magnitude springs on this trip. Enjoy them!
- Headlamp and/or flashlight.
- Toiletries and medications.
- Other tent items: reading materials, iPod, ear plugs…?
- A camera to record the awesome memories you’ll be making!
We look forward to paddling with you. Please contact us if you have questions!