Kayaking on Big Juniper Creek in the Florida Panhandle

 

Juniper Creek, nestled in the northwest section of the Florida panhandle between Milton and Baker, makes one of three must-do float trips in the Blackwater region, with Blackwater River and Coldwater Creek rounding out the three. These rivers and creeks feature a shifting sand and gravel covered bottom that meanders through undeveloped woodlands on their way to Blackwater Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Red Clay Bluffs on Big Juniper Creek in Blackwater River State Forest

Having an average water temperature of 68 degrees and a slow 2-3 mph current, Juniper Creek is an excellent pick for seasoned and first time paddlers during normal water levels. These levels can be monitored through the USGS website for the Blackwater River of which Juniper is a tributary.

Things to See and Do on Juniper Creek

The upper section of Juniper Creek rewards paddlers with a view of 40′ high rugged red clay bluffs within a half mile of the Red Rock Bridge put-in. Large white sandbars are abundant and seem to appear around every curve of the creek providing ample opportunities to stop and have a picnic lunch almost anywhere along the six-mile journey. Camping is permitted along the creeks and is available at the State Park as well.

Red Clay Bluffs Along Juniper Creek

Many different types of animals and birds can be seen frequenting Juniper Creek. The occasional hiker can also sometimes be seen through the treeline as they make their way along the adjacent Juniper Creek Trail as it winds through long leaf pine forests, wiregrass meadows, hardwoods and marsh.

The area is home to the red-cockaded woodpecker, red shouldered hawk, wild turkey and white-tailed deer. In the lower marsh areas various species of pitcher plants and sun dews thrive amid choruses of frogs. Along the creek itself paddlers can expect to see fish, turtles and if lucky, an elusive river otter. Stealthy bobcat, Florida black bear and feral hog might even be seen by a quiet and alert observer.

Planning a Float Trip on Juniper Creek

There are several outfitters that provide kayak and canoe rentals as well as shuttle transportation to and from put-in and takeout locations along Juniper, Coldwater and Blackwater for fees ranging from $25-30 per person with a two-person minimum. Call ahead for updates and river conditions.

Relaxing on a Sandbar

For those with their own kayaks and transportation, getting to the Juniper Creek area is easy. From Pensacola travel to the town of Milton and head north approximately 8 miles on SR 191, turning right onto Indian Ford Road. Leave a vehicle at the Indian Ford Road Bridge and continue on to Pleasant Home Road. Turn left and travel approximately five miles until it meets Red Rock Road. Turn left again and arrive at Red Rock Bridge.

From Crestview turn north off of I-I0 (exit 45) to the town of Holt. Turn left onto Hwy 90 and travel fifteen miles to the town of Harold before turning right onto Deaton Bridge Road. Continue past Blackwater River State Park until it meets Indian Ford Road and turn left. Leave a shuttle at Indian Ford Bridge. Head back across the bridge until it meets with Pleasant Home Road. Turn left and travel approximately five miles until it meets Red Rock Road. Turn left again and arrive at Red Rock Bridge.

Paddlers Float Past a Sandbar on the Big Juniper Creek

Paddlers on Juniper Creek should not attempt to go past the Indian Ford Road Bridge. The creek becomes impassable within a short distance as it enters an impenetrable swamp. Glass bottles are not allowed on the creeks and rivers of the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area and alcohol is not permitted within the State Park or State Forest areas.

 

 

Additional Resources:

Adventures Unlimited
Local: 850-623-6197
Toll Free: 800-239-6864

Blackwater Canoe Rental and Outpost
Local: 850-623-0235
Toll Free: 800-967-6789

This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill

About Beverly Hill

Beverly is a deputy clerk with the Florida court system and is an experienced writer in her free time. Her love of adventure and the outdoors is what fuels her desire to seek out new and exciting things.
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