Tag Archives: Blackwater River paddling

Bear Lake Campground – Black Water SF – 2018 Paddler’s Rendezvous

Blackwater River, shown in above photo, is one of the rivers offered for paddling at the Florida Paddler’s Rendezvous, October 24-28, 2018.   Main rendezvous headquarters will be at the Bear Lake Campground.  For information contact wfckcrendezvous2018@yahoo.com.



2018 Florida Paddler’s Rendezvous to be held at Blackwater River State Forest

Florida Paddler’s Rendezvous, an annual meet-up of paddlers in Florida (and open to all) is scheduled for Blackwater River State Forest on October 26-28, 2018.

Blackwater River State Forest has some of the most beautiful, clear waters and sandy banks in north Florida.   You will have your choice of lazy, wider creeks and rivers and a few technical and faster moving waters.

More details with contact information will be posted as they become available.



Eglin AFB Operations Plan for Military Training on Blackwater River State Forest and Tate’s Hell State Forest

I have excerpted the Annual Operations Plan (and agreement between Eglin AFB and the Florida Department of Agriculture) in the sister blog http://www.letterstograsi-flofficials.com.  It is too long for me to retype it here.

You can also view the 14 page plan at http://www.pnj.com/interactive/article/99999999/NEWS12/131017014/Timeline-Eglin-s-proposed-military-training-Blackwater-River-State-Forest?nclick_check=1

Overnight paddle on Blackwater River by Diane Rickman-Buckalew


Cotton Bridge landing, December 6, 2012. Put-in.


Beautiful white sand beach at the put-in.


Rolling down the Blackwater River on a beautiful December day.

On a bright, crisp morning in early December, 2012, 6 paddlers gathered at Cotton Bridge on the Blackwater River to begin an overnight paddle.  Three paddlers were in kayaks and three were in 14′ solo canoes.  All were experienced paddlers, but not all were experienced at spending a night in the woods with only what could be carried in their boats.  Each had agreed to participate in the overnight paddle for a variety of personal reasons.

The day warmed up and remained bright.   A stop for lunch and our group was again on our way.   Our goal was to reach a nice big sandbar approximately half way to our next day’s destination at Boat Ramp Road at the Blackwater State Park.  We wanted to get to our camp site early enough to set up camp and cook our evening meal before it became too dark.

We reached a large sandbar several miles above Bryant Bridge and started setting up camp.  Meals were cooked and eaten and then everyone gathered around a campfire to socialize while listening to the night sounds on the river.


Setting up camp with lots of sunlight to spare.


My canoe, my river, my cup of hot drink — what more could one ask for at day’s end?

The following day, after breaking camp and loading our boats, we were again on the river enjoying our passion for paddling and the beauties of nature which can only be seen from a boat.   We arrived at our destination, each feeling a sense of personal growth that we had achieved our goal.


The next day, homeward bound. Two beautiful days on a glorious river, December 6-7, 2012.

Panhandle Perfection by Doug Alderson

Blackwater River by Doug Alderson

Sometimes I like mellow streams where you can float and paddle and even close your eyes to swirl in the currents with no worries, listening to birds and the river’s song.  The Florida Panhandle’s lower Blackwater River is one such waterway.  A highly popular river in summer and on warm weekends, I chose a Monday afternoon in April.   Perfect.

The folks at the Blackwater Canoe Rental were accommodating, and they loaned me a serviceable sit-on-top kayak — perfect for floating and jumping out on the numerous brilliant white sandbars for which the river is known.   Despite its name — Blackwater, or the original Oka-lusa (water black) in the Muscogee language — the water was a transparent golden-brown.  Most of the stream flows through undeveloped lands of the Blackwater State Forest and Blackwater River State Park.  The water is as pure as they come, merely tinted with tannins from leaves and roots of shoreline vegetation.  No wonder the river is so popular.

“I’ve been on all the rivers around here and this is still my favorite,”  said Paul Harville, a long-time employee at the outfitter.   The business is open year-round, seven days a week in all types of weather.   The only time they close is when the river is at flood stage, a rare occasion.

“I’ve been on all the rivers around here and this is still my favorite,”  said Paul Harville, a long-time employee at the outfitter.   The business is open year-round, seven days a week in all types of weather.  The only time they close is when the river is at flood stage, a rare occasion.

Tampa Bay Times reporter Terry Tomalin paddled the river for three days in a single digit,nearly record-breaking winter weather in 2012.  Sane people slept in warm beds miles away.  “Lying awake, waiting for morning, I wondered if spinal fluid can freeze,”  Tomalin wrote, “for it felt like every time I moved my backbone was about to snap.   After hours of silent suffering, daylight came, but brought no relief.  Everything was frozen, including camera and phone batteries, gas canisters and hatches to our kayaks, containing all our food and water, which was now turned to ice.”

Those types of trips make for more interesting adventure stories, but what about the perfect days?   I don’t often write about perfect trips on perfect rivers.  …it was sunny, beautiful, and the water was refreshing…  Snooze.   Surely scary rednecks, snakes, alligators, tipping over, storms, bone-chilling cold and such make for exciting stories.   But the Blackwater is worthy of mention because it is one of those rivers where you can have a perfect trip when not too crowded — or too cold.  River Zen at its best.

Other exceptional Panhandle rivers — all of which have similar tannin-tinted waters — include the Perdido, Coldwater, Juniper and Shoal.  All have inviting sandbars, although the Blackwater has the largest number.