A colorful journey awaits you on Econfina Creek

June 9, 2017

One of the many springs on Econfina Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Spring fed creek a natural wonder

NOTE: Many of the recreation areas on Econfina Creek are currently closed due to hurricane damage. Call Northwest Florida Water Management District for specifics at (850) 539-5999.

Part of Florida’s Greenways and Trails, the Econfina Creek in Bay and Washington counties is many a paddlers’ favorite journey in the Florida Panhandle.

Pack a lunch and bring your snorkel, for you are about the enjoy the paddle of a lifetime as you explore the creek and its many crystal clear springs along the popular seven-mile trip down the creek. Cabbage palms drape over the water’s edge along with blooming wildflowers scattering the banks with color during your journey in the spring and summer months. Steep, fern-covered limestone walls prevail along the second half of the paddle, where the creek slices into the ancient limestone of the Floridan Aquifer.

Bring your snorkel mask and explore under the water on Econfina Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

On a hot and humid summer’s day the creek takes on an ethereal feel as a fog layer hangs suspended in the air when the cool water meets the hot air.

The northern portions of the creek are difficult with many logjams and shallow water. Most paddlers opt to put in at the Econfina Livery as the livery offers the option of pick up and return at the take out at SR 388 bridge. They also have kayaks and canoes available for rent.

The Econfina Creek is largely preserved and managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District, and part of the much larger 41,000 acre Econfina Creek Water Management Recreation Area. The Recreation Area offers camping, hiking along the Florida Scenic Trail, boating, fishing and equestrian trails along with campsites and recreational parks.

Clear spring water along the creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The District has identified 11 springs or spring groups comprised of 39 individual vents, most of them within a mile of State Road 20.

Click here for PDF of entire recreation area

Click here for a list of springs

There are several places to launch a canoe or kayak:
• Scott’s Bridge – From US 231 four miles north of Fountain, take Scott’s Road west four miles to bridge. (This section of the creek is for skilled paddlers only as there are many portages due to log jams)
• Walsingham Bridge – From SR 20 turn north on Strickland Road which becomes Porter Pond Road. There is a fence line on the right side of the road. Follow the fence line and make the two right turns where the fence turns. Take Washington Bridge Road to the bridge. (This section of the creek is for skilled paddlers only as there are many portages due to log jams)
Econfina Canoe Livery – One mile north of SR 20 on Strickland Road. Eight miles east of Hwy. 77, offers both canoes and kayaks for rent along with a shuttle back to your vehicle after your paddle. Call 850-722-9032 for more information.  Click here for map

Got your own vessels? Shuttle your vehicles from the put in at SR 20 to SR 388 bridge. Northwest Florida Water Management District offers a parking lot, boardwalk, and launch to the creek. Click here for map.
• SR 20 Bridge to SR 388 Bridge – (6 miles)

Interested in exploring a spring on Econfina you can drive to? Explore Williford Spring and Pitt and Sylvan Springs just off of SR 20.

    1. I would like to add a few more comments about the first section of the Econfina Paddling Trail. That part of Econfina Creek has the steepest gradient of any Florida Stream, should not be attempted at high water levels, and has a very narrow chute between limestone walls to negotiate. It is appropriate for short boats that can turn quickly. There are trees in the river and rocks to avoid.

      The second section from Walsingham Bridge to SR 20 has not been cleared. It is not as technical as the upper part but has many pull-overs. It is difficult at low water levels, but this summer (2009) there has been more rain than the last several drought ridden years, so ought to be good paddling for the adventuresome.

      I heard from paddlers that paddled from Walsingham Bridge to SR 20 that didn’t get off the creek until after dark because the water level was so low, and so many pull-overs. They are good paddlers, but I think it should be a little better this year because there is more water. Don’t know. I will never do the section from Scotts Road to Walsingham Bridge, but want to try to go from Walsingham Bridge to SR 20.

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