Florida’s Panhandle Paradise
Experience the stillness, silence, and solitude, paddling the pristine rivers that make up the Blackwater Forest. When combined with its neighbors the Conecuh National Forest and Eglin Air Force Base, you have the world’s largest long leaf pine forest. This ancient forest is home to rare species including the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Pitcher Plants, and Gopher Tortoises, just to name a few.
Each day we will paddle a creek or river section, enjoy a riverside picnic lunch, then return to our incredible private lodge for a sunset happy hour, an amazing dinner, and free time for yourself in the evening.
Day 1 — We will pick everyone up flying at the Pensacola International Airport at noon. We have a favorite lunch spot in town that’s on our way to the lodge. After lunch it is a 30-minute shuttle to our lodge. Once everyone settles in we will have a little dry land paddle instruction, introductions, tour of our lodge, happy hour, and dinner. Afterwards we will encourage everyone to explore the grounds and hopefully end up at the river for an evening swim with the chance of a possible moonrise.
Day 2 — The Blackwater River has exceptionally clear and pure water, this added to its white sand bottom make it one of the most popular rivers canoed in Florida. So much so that the Florida legislators proclaimed the nearby town of Milton as the “Canoe Capital of Florida.” We will take our time mostly floating this amazing treasure, stopping for the occasional swim, snack, or water fight. If we can get an early start we might get lucky and spot a Florida bear, bobcat, beaver, or river otter. (11 paddling miles)
Day 3 — We travel deep into the wilds of the Blackwater forest. For most people this is the most aesthetically pleasing landscape on the river. Enormous cedar trees line the bank and shade our course, multi colored bluffs twist to hug the curves of the lazy water, and wildlife peeks its heads out to investigate our presence. (11.5 paddling miles)
Day 4 — Early morning start today because we lots of awesome paddling spots to visit. Our first paddle will be on the seldom visited and deeply remote Juniper Creek. Our kayaks will glide over clear water with a tinge of red. When the sun finds its way through the canopy it will reflect on the almost glowing white sand river bottom. As we float downstream the forest will close in on us almost forming a green tunnel. At the take out we will have a riverside picnic before driving the short distance to a fast moving section of the Blackwater River. Juniper Creek (6 miles) Blackwater River(8.5 paddling miles)
Day 5 — The Coldwater Creek begins as a spring very near the Alabama Florida border at an elevation of nearly 300’ above sea level (this is a mountain to Floridians). It then winds it’s sparkling clear waters towards the Gulf of Mexico flowing through the Blackwater Forest. Paddlers enjoy the swiftness of the current and the beautiful sugar sand beaches. The remoteness of the river adds to the quietness, stillness, and to the amount of viewable wildlife. The creek maintains a 76-78 degree temperature year round. (11 paddling miles)
Day 6 — Beach day! I love the rivers that make up the panhandle, however, what most people love about this area is the enormous white sand beaches and clear gulf waters. We will pack up everything we need in the morning and head out to Gulf Islands National Seashore. Lots of history, scenery, and sunshine. Dinner will be at a local seafood restaurant.
Day 7 — For those looking for a bit of excitement our lodge offers a thrilling zip line course over the tree tops and across the river. For everyone else there is leisurely morning strolls through the forest, may be a swim, or just a quiet paddle before packing up and heading to the Pensacola airport. Drop off is at 1pm. Lunch will be our last meal together.