A   B   S   O   L   U   T   E   L   Y       F   L   O   R   I   D   A       M   A   G   A   Z   I   N   E

<-- More Absolutely Florida     More EcoTourism -->
F l o r i d a E c o A d v e n t u r e s

Paddling the sand bar creeks of the Panhandle

Question: In 1981 the Florida Legislature designated this area as the canoe capital of Florida. Where is it?

If you guessed the Everglades, you're wrong. The right answer is Santa Rosa County, a thickly forested, thinly populated Panhandle county, blessed with several first-rate canoeing and tubing streams. They're Coldwater Creek, Juniper Creek, Sweetwater Creek and the Blackwater River, all located in the Blackwater State Forest. Fed by many springs and smaller streams, these creeks stay full year-round and gather momentum enroute to the river. All told they provide over 100 miles of beautiful uninterrupted travel past a lush , fragrant forest backdrop, framed against a deep blue sky. Coldwater Creek is swifter than the others, and its temperature remains a fairly steady 75 degrees year-round.

Santa Rosa count's streams are said to be the purest in the state.The creeks originate in Conecuh National Forest in Alabama. Running through protected land, the steams are not polluted with agricultural runoff and urban effluent, so common elsewhere, unfortunately.

Adventures Unlimited possesses the largest canoe livery in the county. Their main base of operations is at Tomahawk Landing on Coldwater Creek. The generally shallow streams are famed for their snow-white sand and sand bars. At just about any spot you can get out of your canoe and wade or swim over the pristine sands, and the sand bars are ideal for relaxing, picnicking or camping. Adventures Unlimited provide all camping gear and provisions necessary for a two or three day camping trip on the river, including a guide should you require one. Cabins sleeping up to six have been recently been built in quiet, idyllic locations, and other cabins with kitchen, bath and air-conditioning are also available. Large groups are catered for in group cabins that can handle up to 60 people.

In addition to all the fabulous canoeing available, fishing is definitely a draw. Bass and bluegill are among the fish who live here.

A typical half-day trip might be a six-mile trip downstream, while a full day can take you up to 17 miles, depending on your location. Families with small children often favor the special two-hour, four mile trip on Coldwater Creek. A family of two adults and two children can canoe all day for just $16, including launch and pickup. Because Santa Rosa's streams are very popular attractions during the summer, reservations are advisable, especially on weekends. On weekdays you'll only see a few other parties along the creeks, and in spring or fall you may just have the whole river to yourself!

Adventures Unlimited is less than a day's drive from New Orleans, Mobile Montgomery, Birmingham, Atlanta and Tallahassee. The canoe landing is about three miles east of Florida 87 and about 12 miles north of Milton, the county seat. For more information write: Adventures Unlimited, Route 6, Box 283, Milton, Florida or call 850/623-6197