A colorful journey awaits you on Econfina Creek

June 12, 2019

Spring fed creek a natural wonder

NOTE: A few recreation areas on Econfina Creek are currently closed due to hurricane damage. Call Northwest Florida Water Management District for specifics at (850) 539-5999. The creek has limited canopy since Hurricane Michael, as thousands of trees were downed from the storm. However, with the assistance of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the creek has been cleared and is easily to navigate. The Econfina Creek Livery is open.

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 eight-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

Currently open location to launch a canoe or kayak:
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. Please note that the livery offers launching of private vessels only on weekdays for $5.00. The lack of parking available has limited their accommodation on the weekends. The Livery opens at 8:30 a.m. and start shuttles back from the Hwy. 388 bridge from 1 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.  Click here for map

Interested in exploring a spring on Econfina you can drive to? Explore Pitt and Sylvan Springs just off of SR 20. As of June 2019, this recreation area is only open on weekends.

3 Comments
    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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