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Latest update: Feb. 2018

Holmes Creek... Paddling in Florida's Panhandle

By kayak or camoe, Holmes Creek in the Florida Panhandle is a beautiful paddling run, spring-fed and mostly clear. The creek flows from near the Florida-Alabama border to the Choctawhatchee River; the 34-mile Holmes Creek Paddling Trail starts north of Vernon at Burnt Sock Landing, and has been extended to Cedar Tree Landing on the Choctawhatchee River. (Detailed map and photos)

Paddle Florida Panhandle, Holmes Creek, Kayak, Canoe

Distance: 34 mile paddling trail
Location: Washington County (Vernon, Florida)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Burnt Sock Landing, Cotton Landing, Culpepper Landing, Vernon Wayside Park, Fanning Branch, Brunson Landing, Hightower Springs Landing, Spurling Landing, Live Oak Landing, Shell Landing, Potter Spring Road Landing, Cedar Tree Landing (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Panama City Beach, St. Andrews State Park, Florida Caverns State Park

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Holmes Creek Canoe Livery (rentals)

Old Cypress Canoe Rentals (rentals, tours)

Snaggy Bend Outfitters (rentals)

Holmes Creek... Comments and Photos

To the north the river is difficult to paddle due to high banks and sand bars, but at Vernon it opens up and is an easy paddle with a slow current and clear water. The landings provide good launches and some have facilities. You may see motorboats near the boat ramps, but generally kept to a minimum by shallow water and deadfall. The springs are very popular for swimming and snorkeling - avoid the summer crowds by visiting on weekdays and in cooler months (see more information, below).


Between Fanning Branch Landing and Hightower Landing

We paddled from Fanning Branch Landing toward Hightower Landing, and return. (May 2012)


Live Oak Landing toward Hightower Spring

We launched at Live Oak Landing and paddled upstream toward Hightower Spring, and return. The boat ramp at Live Oak has a steep drop-off, not recommended for larger boats but great for launching a kayak! (May 2012)


Landings on Holmes Creek

We visited landings between Vernon and Live Oak Landing. This was the original 16-mile trail, which has now been extended to 34 miles (we'll visit more on another trip).

Live Oak Landing

Boat ramp, kayak/canoe launch, picnic tables, port-a-potty, parking

Fanning Branch Landing

Boat ramp, covered picnic pavilion, port-a-potty, parking

Hightower Springs Landing

Boat ramp, kayak/canoe launch, picnic tables, port-a-potty, parking

Holmes Creek Springs

The creek is fed by dozens of springs, and is a favorite for snorkeling and diving. Cypress Springs (about 3 miles north of Vernon) is the largest, a second-magnitude spring. The park around the spring, however, is now in private hands and closed to the public. Nearby Beckton Springs and Magnolia Springs also feed the creek and are popular swimming and snorkeling sites. The abundant wildlife includes turtles, alligators, fish and birds such as blue heron, ibis, egrets, and woodpeckers.

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