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Latest update: Dec. 2014

Chipola River Overview... Scenic Paddling in Florida's Panhandle

The Chipola River flows 89 miles through Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf Counties to the Apalachicola River. The 51 mile Chipola River Designated Paddling Trail runs from just below Florida Caverns State Park to Scott's Ferry near the Dead Lakes, and the Upper Chipola River Designated Paddling Trail runs 4.5 miles from Christoff Landing to Florida Caverns State Park - the trails are separated due to the river running underground. Fed by 63 springs (33 of which are first magnitude), this scenic river runs through river swamp and hardwood forest, and limestone bluffs and caves can be seen. This is a part of Florida unlike the popular perceptions of the state! (Detailed map and photos below.)

Paddle Florida Panhandle, Chipola River, Kayak, Canoe

Distance: 51 mile Chipola River Paddling Trail, 4.5 mile Upper Chipola River Paddling Trail, 89 miles total
Location: Calhoun, Jackson and Gulf Counties
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal
: No
Launch points: See links below for specifics along each padding trail (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Florida Caverns State Park, Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, Blue Springs Recreational Area

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

See links below for specifics along each padding trail

Chipola River... Comments and Photos

We made two trips:

  • We paddled upstream on the Upper Chipola River Designated Paddling Trail, launching at the Chipola River Sink Boat Ramp (where the river goes underground) at Florida Caverns State Park.
  • The Chipola River Paddling Trail (lower river) starts downriver after the river re-emerges, we paddled down Spring Creek to the Chipola River and then to the CR280/Magnolia Road Bridge.

Upper Chipola River

At Florida Caverns State Park

Chipola River-upper, florida caverns

Lower Chipola River

Spring Creek to CR280/Magnolia Road Bridge

Chipola River-lower, spring creek

Other Launches (lower)

CR 278 Peacock Bridge

Lamb Eddy Landing

SR 20 Bridge


About the Chipola River

The river has many springs but can be a greenish brown because of the farmland along the upper river, and turns muddy after it rains. During low water, shoals are present. Below the SR 274 bridge are the “Look and Tremble” rapids which less experienced paddlers might want to portage around. The caves along the upper paddling trail are a unique sight, and diving, snorkeling, tubing are popular on the Chipola. The river is good for fishing, but the shallow water and limestone river bottom limit powerboats. The lower river widens but remains shallow. Wildlife includes alligators, turtles, deer and snakes, and birds including hawks, herons and egrets.

At Florida Caverns State Park, the Chipola goes underground and re-emerges downstream. The 51 mile paddling trail starts within Florida Caverns State Park, but the first mile is not navigable so launch at the SR166/Yancey Road Bridge. Along the paddling trail the limestone walls and caves are a unique sight. Explore on your own, or use the outfitters who can provide drop-off services (multi-day trips are also available). Some of the popular trips are:

  • Yancey Bridge to Magnolia Road (10 miles) - visit a dry cave at "The Ovens"
  • Hinson Conservation Area to Magnolia Road (4.5 miles)
  • Spring Creek dam to Magnolia Road (3.7 miles)
  • Peacock Bridge to Lamb Eddy Landing (11 miles) - "Look and Tremble" rapids are here
  • Johnny Boy Landing to Lamb Eddy Landing (4.5 miles)
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