This incredible land boasts endless horizons, an eternity of glittering water, waving grasses, and an infinite number of life-forms spanning this subtropical wilderness found nowhere else in the world.
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Winter Expedition in Grayton Beach
When the rest of the country is bundling up for winter, enjoy an active week of paddling spring-fed rivers, hiking pine forests, and playing on the beach. In the evenings, we return to our beachside cabins for nightly happy hour, freshly prepared dinners, and tales about the day’s adventures.
Day 1 — Noon pick-up at the Pensacola International Airport. Lunch in town, then drive to our cabins. (Guests driving in should meet at our cabins after 3 p.m.) Afternoon paddling instruction, tour of the park, and a cocktail hour meet and greet.
Day 2 & 3 — HOLMES CREEK
Be sure to bring your snorkeling gear when paddling scenic Holmes Creek. This remote Panhandle stream is fed by crystalline springs, so the water’s clarity is often semi-transparent. Low-hanging branches and twisting bends add some challenge as the waterway makes its way past high sandy banks and lush swamplands. Several old-growth cypress and gum trees can be seen along the shore. Wildflowers in the spring and brilliant fall colors in October and November add to the beauty of this pristine waterway
Day 4 & 5 — The CHOCTAWHATCHEE RIVER is a journey into the heart of wild Florida, where wildlife far outnumbers humans. This river is 170 miles long, beginning in Alabama, with about 88 miles in Florida. Expect to encounter few people or boats except near a few popular springs. The designated portion of this river is roughly a 64-mile stretch between SR 2 near the Alabama border to Cowford Landing on Hwy 20.
The Choctawhatchee flood plain provides habitat for an array of native wildlife, with several endangered plant and animal species, including the federally threatened Gulf Sturgeon. There have been rumors of the believed-to-be-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker hidden among the primordial wetlands. The Choctawhatchee winds through a broad flood plain dotted with old growth hardwood forests and a few sparkling springs whose clear waters mingle with the tea-colored flow of the majestic river.
Day 6 — SHOAL RIVER is a nature photographer’s dream. The shallow, gold-tinted river threads through a northwest Florida wilderness of high sandy hills, broad sandbars perfect for rest stops, and floodplain forest. The surrounding forest is a mixture of maple, birch, oak, gum and cypress. The land along the Shoal is mostly undeveloped with the first signs of civilization appearing near the Hwy 85 takeout just south of Crestview. The Shoal River meanders through pristine habitat that is home to Florida black bear, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and many other species that a quiet, observant paddler may glimpse.
Day 7 — ECONFINA CREEK is one of the most outstanding waterways in the state and is truly a wild experience, with few signs of human habitation and an abundance of wildlife and native vegetation. This swift flowing waterway is a nature-lovers delight and the upper section offers a challenging adventure for experienced paddlers.
Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. Western Lake offers fishing and paddling, and those who want to explore on foot have 4 miles of trails to traverse through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias stand, bent and twisted by salt winds. At nearly 2,000 acres, Grayton Beach State Park is more than a backdrop for golden sunrises and silver moonlit evenings.
Grayton Beach cabins are nestled in the pine woods only minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico and a mile of sugar-white beaches. Cabins accommodate six people. Grayton Beach State Park offers two-bedroom, one-bath duplex cabins, each equipped with a gas fireplace, central heating and cooling, a kitchen with basic cooking and dining utensils, a screened in porch and an outdoor grill. Linens, pillows, blankets and towels are provided. Linens are not refreshed daily.
Guests should bring their own beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas. In most cabins, the front bedroom has a queen bed and the back bedroom has two twin beds. Two vehicles per cabin are permitted. For the guest’s relaxation, televisions and phones are not provided.
The leaders will prepare and serve all meals. Meals served on the trip will honor and reflect local cuisine. A typical dinner would consist of shrimp and crawfish étouffée, rice, garlic bread, fresh salad, and something chocolate for dessert. People with special diets should contact the leader to make arrangements.
All meals beginning with dinner on the first day and ending with lunch on the last day, all kayaks, paddles, and PFDs, all ground transportation and shuttles, lodging, and two amazing guides.