The Yellow River, a state designated canoe trail through the Florida Greenways & Trails program, offers 56 miles of paddling trail from SR-2 – SR-87. This important aquifer of northwest Florida is managed and protected by the Yellow River Water Management District and the surrounding lands are open to hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, bird watching, and also makes the perfect destination for paddlers.
The Yellow River begins its journey in lower Alabama in the Conecuh National Forest, traveling some 92 miles to Blackwater and East Bay near Pensacola, Fla. The Florida section from State Road 2, or Hwy 2 as referred to by locals, to Hwy 90 appears to be the most popular section to paddle. Below Hwy 90 paddlers will encounter more small motor boats and a lack of sandbars. For a longer trip it is possible to canoe or kayak from points in Alabama down into Florida, but paddlers may encounter multiple pullovers, especially during low water.
Versatile Yellow River
The Yellow River is fed by almost a hundred smaller streams and is joined by the Shoal River near Crestview, Fla. The upper Yellow River takes paddlers along limestone banks that give way to sand and gravel banks downstream. The lower Yellow flows into the Yellow River Marsh Aquatic Preserve, home to the largest deposit of white-topped pitcher plants in Florida.
A trip on the Yellow River is peaceful and relaxing when the water levels are right, usually when the gauge at SR-2 reads between 1 – 2 ft. Water levels on the river can fluctuate wildly, particularly after a storm, making it more hazardous for paddlers. Fair weather also allows for camping on sandbars for those wishing to make the longer trip.
Fishing is a popular activity on the Yellow River and the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife (FWC) has started a program to reintroduce striped bass into the waterway. Largemouth bass, bream, and catfish are also common along the river. Gulf sturgeon, Okaloosa darter and alligator gar can also be found in the river, however the taking of alligator gar is not permitted without a Scientific Collectors Permit available from the FWC.
Put-in and Take-out Locations for the Yellow River
On Hwy 90 just west of Crestview take SR-189 north to SR-2 and turn right. Travel five miles to the bridge and put-in. The next closest take-out/put-in below this entry point is approximately 24 miles to the south near Milligan/Crestview. To access this small park from Hwy 90 heading west, take the first clay road (Ellis Road) on the left after crossing the bridge.
The final take-out location is located near the town of Milton. Access to this put in is on SR-87 at the Yellow River Bridge south of the town. It is possible to paddle farther into the Yellow River Marsh Aquatic Preserve, but don’t do so without a map, gps or compass because this can be a confusing area for those unfamiliar with the area. Plan a safe trip and have fun exploring the Yellow River.
This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill