Adventure: Paddling the Blackwater River

By: Kevin Mims

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I'm always in awe at the amount and variety of paddling opportunities here in Florida. No matter where you are in the state, you can count on finding not just a place, but a fantastic place, to go kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding.

Up near Milton in Northwest Florida, the state-designated Blackwater River Paddling Trail winds through the Blackwater River State Forest for 31 miles. The river is generally considered one of the most pristine sand-bottom rivers on Earth, varying in color from light yellow to a rich coffee brown, depending on the depth. Sandbars as pure as any Florida beach are plentiful and serve as choice locations for primitive camping or rest stops on a day trip.

Blackwater River

The river is a popular tubing destination, and on a typical summer weekend expect to encounter plenty of people floating along, especially in the section closest to Blackwater River State Park.

Blackwater River Tubing-2 

Two area outfitters (Blackwater River Canoe Rental and Adventures Unlimited) offer rentals and a shuttle service.

Several put-in and take-out spots (see the map) make it easy to split the paddling trail up into sections.

When I think of the best Florida paddling trips, the Blackwater River sits high on my list. The scenery is incredible. Logistically, it's fairly easy to plan out. The facilities at Blackwater River State Park are top-notch. Combine all of those things, and you've got one great adventure.

For more information and maps, check out the Office of Greenways and Trails guide to the Blackwater River Paddling Trail.

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