Paddling the ten mile section of the Chipola River from Yancey Bridge in Marianna, Fl, to Magnolia Bridge south of the city makes for a relaxing and enjoyable float trip at almost any time of the year. The river is moderately wide with no major log jams or portages to contend with and the current flows at an easy pace except after periods of heavy rainfall. During periods of low rainfall the river takes on a picturesque milky-green hue.
There may be some light motor boat traffic on this section of the river but most fisherman respectfully reduce speed for paddlers. A handful of houses sporadically dot some of the higher river banks, but for the most part the river remains in its natural state providing habitat for numerous animals.
There are several points of interest along this section of river, the first being a small outcropping of limestone boulders and a cave system on the west bank referred to by locals as the “Ovens.” For daring adventurers armed with a flashlight or headlamp it is possible to explore the cave for a short distance. Graffiti covers much of the walls and the area is a popular hangout for locals during the summer months.
Further downriver is a new picnic stop complete with picnic tables and waste receptacles located at the Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area. At time of publication of this article there were no restrooms or potable water sources available at this location so plan accordingly. The next area of note is Maund Spring which can be found by paddling up a short spring run on the east river bank. This is a common stop for paddlers looking for a place to cool off.
A short distance before the takeout at Magnolia Landing is the mouth of Spring Creek on the east bank of the river. This spring fed creek flows five miles from its source at Merritt Mill Pond, another popular paddling destination. Because of a dam blocking access to Merritt Mill Pond it is not possible to access it from Spring Creek, rather paddlers will have to access the pond via the campground boat ramp on Hwy 90 just east of the town of Marianna.
Put-in and Take-out Locations for the Chipola River
To access Yancey Bridge put-in proceed to a small park on the east bank of the Chipola river via State Road 166 in Marianna. Take-out locations are available at the Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area on Hwy 73 South and at Magnolia Bridge on State Road 280/Magnolia Road. The Magnolia Bridge take-out may be hard to see as the access road is at a small gap along the guard rail.