Twists and turns keep you busy on Turkey Creek

June 22, 2013

Cool water and natural beauty await on Turkey Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Clear creek full of natural wonder

Note: The double culvert south of the Hippy Hole launch area is currently not navigable due to collapse.

Interested in a challenging, beautiful kayak or canoe paddle? Head over to Jackson Guard at Eglin Air Force Base and get yourself a recreation pass, as one of Northwest Florida’s most scenic paddles awaits your paddling skills on Turkey Creek.

Located on Eglin Air Force Base Recreation Area in Niceville, the Turkey Creek paddle from the Hippie Hole to Boggy Bayou is approximately 9.5 miles long. If you are interested in shorter paddle, there is another canoe launch located on RR232 where you can exit at approximately 4.5 miles.

Swift and clear, the first two thirds of the paddle is tight, as the creek is less than 15 ft. wide in some areas, with sandy, shallow areas. Trees hang low over the water, providing a nice shady canopy for the journey.

The creek’s clear water derives from a steep seepage slope, and colorful scenery is nonstop. Snakes, turtles and an abundance of blooming native wetland plants such as bog buttons, pipewort, aster, carnivorous pitcher plants and sundews await along the banks of the creek.

Carnivorous plants such as this pitcher plant are found along the banks of Turkey Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Carnivorous plants such as this pitcher plant are found along the banks of Turkey Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

This paddle will bring you under a few bridges and a double culvert which at one time supported railway tracks. There is a bit of a rapid as the creek forces through the narrow tunnels, providing a fun place to stop, get out and float back through.

You will pass along the Turkey Creek Recreation area, a public park on State Road 20. There are several swimming spots along this area, favored by locals cooling off on a hot day. Turkey Creek eventually empties into Boggy Bayou in Valparaiso, just west of Niceville.

The take out location is a city park with parking and restroom facilities.

Bring plenty of water, a PFD and leave your pets at home, they are not permitted.

Paddling Turkey Creek requires a recreation permit from Eglin AFB. You can acquire one for the season or just one day by calling the Jackson Guard Natural Resources Facility at (850) 882-4164 or (850) 882-4165. The Natural Resources Branch hours of operation are: Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sundays and Federal holidays closed.


How to get there:
The put in is located on Eglin Reservation 5 miles north of Hwy. 20, in Niceville off SR 85 off of Eglin RR232. Bear right on RR 233 and go 1.5 miles to the Hippy Hole Bridge.

A good take out is on Boggy Bayou in Valparaiso at a small public park next to the cement plant on Hwy 20.

Interested in joining a local paddling club?

Florida Panhandle Canoe and Kayak Connection (FPCKC)