Econfina Creek, located in the northwest panhandle of Florida between Panama City and Marianna, takes paddlers along a route full of breathtaking scenery and pristine springs .
Econfina Creek is a good choice for both seasoned and first time canoeists, kayakers, and tubers. The upper 11-mile portion from Scott’s Road Bridge to Walsingham Bridge is extremely difficult with numerous portages and should only be attempted by experienced canoeists. Enthusiasts looking for a more leisurely paddle will enjoy the seven-mile section from the Econfina Creek Canoe Livery to the takeout at Hwy 388.
Located in Washington and Bay counties just between Marianna and Panama City, Econfina Creek stretches approximately 26 miles to Deer Point Reservoir and the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the land along the banks of the creek is privately owned and there are few pullovers aside from the springs. Plan to have a picnic lunch at one of the springs and take time to snorkel at them.
Explore Crystal Clear Bubbling Springs
Along the river, expect to experience nature at its finest with very few houses to spoil the view. The water itself is generally slow moving and clear until past the springs. There are a total of 11 springs comprised of 36 vents along Econfina Creek most of which are located in the section between Walsingham Bridge and the Highway 20 bridge.
Vegetation along the the creek is mostly Appalachian and vastly different from most of Florida’s plant life. Expect to see mountain laurels, magnolia, beech, cypress, titi, sweetgum, white oak and tupelo trees while traveling down this watery corridor.
A variety of birds and animals thrive along the river. Its common to spot beaver or even the occasional otter along the riverbank. Bird enthusiasts will be pleased with the variety of wading birds, song birds and wild turkeys that frequent the area. Beneath the creek in some of the subterranean caverns lives a species of cave snail found only in the Econfina Creek system.
Florida has developed the Florida Greenways program and is working with private land owners along Econfina Creek to help keep the creek accessible for future generations. The Greenways program has helped to keep the area undeveloped and in a natural state, allowing both people and animals to benefit.
Put-in Points for Canoes and Kayaks Along Econfina Creek
The only local canoe outfitter is the Econfina Canoe Creek Livery located just to the north of the Hwy 20 bridge. For a nominal fee, they provide canoe, kayak, or tube rentals, and will shuttle travelers from access points along the river. Shuttle service is also available for a fee for those with their own personal watercraft.
Other access points include Scott’s Road Bridge along the upper section of Econfina Creek, Walsingham Park, Econfina Canoe Creek Livery, and the Hwy 20 bridge. Leaving a car overnight at any of the put-ins is highly discouraged. Arranging for shuttle service is the best choice.
Be sure to bring a cooler, food, something to drink, and plenty of sunscreen. Then, just relax and enjoy the trip. There is plenty of time to enjoy the many springs along the creek and still make it to the pickup point on time without hurrying. Unfortunately pets are not allowed along Econfina Creek.
While in the area, be sure to check out Florida Caverns State Park at nearby Marianna. The park offers full facilities, camping, hiking trails, swimming, fishing, picnic shelters, restrooms, and more. The park does allow pets, just be sure to follow the rules while visiting with pets. Pets are not allowed in the caverns.
There are numerous paddling opportunities along the Florida panhandle. If time permits, plan another float trip just a couple of hours away on the Blackwater River near Pensacola.
Econfina Creek Canoe Livery is located at 5641-A Porter Bend Rd.,Youngstown, FL 32466 and can be reached at 850-722-9032.
This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill