What better way to spend a day than by paddling along beautiful Turkey Creek and experiencing nature at its finest. From cool swimming holes to first rate wildlife viewing, Turkey Creek has it all.
Update: Repairs at the damaged trestle have been completed and Turkey Creek has reopened to paddlers. 5/27/15
Turkey Creek is located in Niceville, Florida and is a favorite for kayaking and canoeing. This creek starts north of the city of Niceville on the Eglin AFB Reservation and continues about 8–9 miles downstream to Boggy Bayou on the Choctawhatchee Bay. In order to access the put-in locations on the reservation, paddlers must obtain a low-cost recreation pass available from the Jackson Guard Natural Resources Facility located at 107 Highway 85 N in Niceville.
Paddling on Turkey Creek
Turkey Creek is a shallow, sand bottom creek that twists and winds past several tributaries. The average speed of the current along the creek is about 2 miles per hour. The only paddling required will be when negotiating the sometimes tight turns in order to avoid being pushed into overhanging branches. During the hot summer months the creek can sometimes become so shallow that portaging may be necessary, but it is well worth the effort.
Early morning is the best time to view wildlife along the creek. True to the creek’s name, wild turkey may be seen along the banks as well as deer, boar, raccoon, fox, osprey, bald eagle, several species of turtle, and the occasional snake. The endangered Okaloosa Darter, found in only six Choctawhatchee Bay tributaries, can also be found in the creek.
One of the highlights along the creek is a set of tubes that run under what used to be a railroad used by Eglin AFB. This makes a fun place to take a break and “chute the tube” a few times before continuing on. The last mile of the trip is past the Turkey Creek Nature Trail, a ¾ mile boardwalk that winds alongside the creek and offers several swimming platforms.
Put-in and Take-out Locations along Turkey Creek
On the Eglin Reservation there are three locations available to put in kayaks and canoes. The first is the Turkey Creek Canoe Launch located on RR 232 off of Hwy 85. The second launch site, known as the “Hippie Hole,” is on RR 233, and the third is at a bridge on RR 637 which is a bit harder to manage without a 4WD.
The creek empties into Boggy Bayou on the Choctawhatchee Bay where it is a short paddle to the takeout at nearby Twin Cities Park. Total paddle time for Turkey Creek to the takeout is about 5 hours. Turkey Creek is a favorite among locals for paddling, cooling off, and just having a good time. Also, when visiting Florida’s Emerald Coast don’t forget to check out nearby Blackwater River near Pensacola and Econfina Creek near Marianna. They’re both well worth the visit.
Jackson Guard 850-882-4164
This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill