Located about 20 miles northwest of Crestview, Florida in Blackwater River State Forest is the 65 acre man-made Karick Lake. This tranquil lake was created in 1965 and then opened to fishing a year later. It has a maximum depth of 18 feet near the earthen dam, and an average depth of 7 feet. There is an abundance of submerged timber, providing prime habitat for the stocked populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcracker), and channel catfish*. Two concrete boat ramps are located on the north and south side of the lake for launching human powered and electric motor watercraft only.
One of the main draws to this forested lake, in addition to fishing, is the two shaded campgrounds complete with electricity and water hookups located on the north and south side of the lake. Both campgrounds have restroom and shower facilities as well as picnic areas. This is a popular spot on the weekends for locals looking to find a little peace and solitude. Campers should note that camping is available on a first come/first served basis. Current fees can be found by visiting the Florida Forest Service website. A day-use area is available for visitors.
If fishing and kayaking aren’t enough of a challenge, there is a trailhead located at the north campground that allows hikers to choose from a 3.8 mile hike around the lake or they can walk in the footsteps of General Andrew Jackson along a 20 mile section of the Red Ground Trail, initially an important commerce route for native Indians between Columbus, Georgia and Pensacola, Fla.
Morning and evenings are great times to view the local wildlife. Deer are common near the campgrounds, meadows and along the grassy dam and wild turkey are often seen along the trails. Karick Lake is part of the Panhandle Birding Trail and offers a wide variety of spotting opportunities from shorebirds to songbirds and game birds to birds of prey.
If visiting during the hot summer months, be sure to have a backup plan for cooling off because swimming is not allowed at Karick Lake, most likely due to the amount of submerged timber in the lake. Being Florida, there is also the strong likelihood of alligators being present. Better to err on the side of caution and respect the signs.
All things considered, Karick Lake is an excellent location for relaxing and just enjoying what nature has to offer. Other nearby points of interest include Blackwater River and Blackwater River State Park, Coldwater Recreation Area, and Hurricane, Bear and Krul Lakes. Excellent kayaking can also be had on Blackwater River and Juniper Creek.
*Special regulations pertaining to fishing are also in effect for Karick Lake. Please check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife website for current size limits.