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Trip report: Oct. 2012

Boiling Creek... Paddling Florida's Panhandle

Boiling Creek flows through the Eglin Air Force Base Reservation and into the Yellow River. The spring-fed creek runs crystal clear, with a natural beauty preserved by its location within the military base. The depth is typically 3-5 feet with a swift current. Pitcher plants and orchids dot the shoreline. The underwater grass is home to fish and turtles; paddling on Boiling Creek is like being in an aquarium. (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle, kayak, canoe, Florida Panhandle, Boiling Creek

Distance: Varies; 6.5 miles one-way from BR 211 bridge to take-out on Yellow River
Location: Santa Rosa County (Eglin Air Force Base Reservation)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Boiling Creek Bridge (BR 211 off Hwy. 87), Boiling Creek Boat Ramp (BR 787), Little Boiling Creek access (BR 213), Yellow River Bridge along Hwy 87 (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Milton, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Blackwater Canoe Rental  (rentals)

Boiling Creek... Comments and Photos

A recreation permit (small fee, annual or day pass) is required and now available online (link below). Access roads are unpaved. Getting to the launch at the end of BR 787 is especially difficult (we started to explore, but turned around). We found all other roads to be very passable. Easy on-off launch at the BR 211 bridge, limited parking.


Boiling Creek Access

A launch is located on either side of the bridge on Base Road 211 and can serve as the launch for a paddle upstream (and return) or downstream to the US 87 launch on the Yellow River (normally done with two vehicles). The bridge is low, getting under it requires a "limbo" move which in high water may not be possible. The launch downstream is next to the bridge; an old ramp has been replaced by a wall and set of steps. To launch upstream, continue just past the bridge and on the right, there is a short drive to the put-in about 50' above the bridge.


Downstream from RR 211 Bridge

Downstream, the current carries you as the creek winds around gentle bends. The creek bottom and water wildlife are clearly visible. Surprisingly few downed logs to navigate. The creek widens as it approaches the Yellow River, where there may be motorboat traffic. We paddled a short distance downstream, will check out the rest of the way and Yellow River on another trip.


Upstream from RR 211 Bridge

We enjoyed the upstream paddle, quiet and remote. Like so many streams in the Panhandle, there's a strong current, but with few obstructions and sufficient water depth, we were able to navigate upstream staying close to the shoreline, thus avoiding the strongest current. One downside is there were no beaches to stop at, we eventually grounded on a shallow sandbar to stretch and have a snack.


Little Boiling Creek

About 1.5 miles upstream from the bridge, Little Boiling Creek enters from the right. We paddled a short distance up and look forward to visiting it again for a longer trip. Narrow, shallow, and more challenging; one cannot avoid brushing up against nature here. About one mile upstream from this confluence, Boiling Creek enters a military Red Zone. There may be no signs, but strictly off-limits, so be sure to limit your distance beyond here.

More on Paddling Boiling Creek

Along the riverbank are cypress and other trees and plants, such as water lilies and many tall pitcher plants. Wildlife include fish, snakes, turtles, ospreys, hawks and other birds.

Only about half of the 6.5 mile downstream trip is on Boiling Creek, the rest on the less scenic Yellow River. So instead of going one-way (and needing a 2nd car), we spent more time on Boiling Creek by doing an out and back - both ways from the 211 bridge. About 1.5 miles upstream, Little Boiling Creek enters from the right. Very intriguing "small water" (appears to be kept open by locals, thank you!). From this point, it's about a mile upstream before Boiling Creek enters a restricted zone. We paddled about half of that before turning around. It seemed more scenic downstream. This is captivating place, plus something we rarely see in Florida now - no trash!

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