Juniper Creek

Big Escambia Creek:  lots of sandbars and a few really neat surprises

From Magnolia Branch down, the creek is mostly gentle, but it features a section with rapids and an occasionally wild ride through the trees.

SKILL LEVEL:  Advanced beginner.  

SCENERY:  Almost no development.

LOCATION:  Near Flomaton, Alabama. 

ONLINE GAUGE:  Yes, check it out here.

Big Escambia Creek has a lot to offer to recreational paddlers.  It has tea-colored water found in other creeks in the area, and lots of secluded sandbars.  The Big Escambia has over 27 floatable miles for canoes and kayaks.  There is a two-mile section that includes a rapid, but our favorite part is the last 1.5 miles where the creek's path was diverted some time back, and it  literally goes through the trees.  That's what you see in the picture above.


The Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve has a nice campground that you can use as a base of operations. They also rent canoes and tubes.  Magnolia Branch borders two miles of the creek and is a popular summer destination.     



The first 9.6-mile section of Big Escambia to Magnolia Branch is for the more adventurous paddler.  Obstructions in the water that you will have to dodge are common, and pullovers are a distinct possibility.  Aside from crossing under I-65, you will see almost no signs of development along the creek.  If you do this upper creek section, you should consider adding an extra two miles to your trip and taking out at the lower landing on Magnolia Branch.  Doing this lets you run a fun little rapid and some small shoals.  This is generally a quick two miles.


After you pass the rapid and the lower landing of Magnolia Branch, the creek is generally peaceful paddle all the way to Hwy 29 / 31 in Flomaton.  There are lots of nice sandbars on this stretch, and the water is mostly clear of obstructions.  If the water is low, you may have to put out some effort in the last few miles.  Thirteen miles is a pretty long trip for new paddlers and too far for most children.  The creek is not very shaded.  Full sun is a plus in the winter, but not in the summer.


Our favorite trip on the Big Escambia is the short, final section of the creek that flows into the Escambia River, where we take out on Hwy 4.    The first four miles of this section is gentle, with nice sandbars.  The creek's last mile and a half are what make this a really special trip.  The river heads off through the trees, and your path may vary from one trip to the next.  We would really like to loop around and do this section multiple times.  If the water is flowing fast, you will have to be prepared to maneuver your boat quickly.  We have had lots of people swim in this section -- not on purpose.  You should be prepared for obstacles and maybe a few pullovers.  A handsaw and loppers are good to have.  If the water on Escambia River is high, Big Escambia may back up and this is even more interesting, but there may be some tricky currents in places, so caution is advised.   

See more Big Escambia Creek photos.


River Miles reflect the approximate distances from the previous launch site.


LAUNCH SITE MAP  (See next section for clickable directions)

I like this dry bag because it has shoulder straps and a water bottle pocket.  I've been hauling mine a lot lately.

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CR 40 / Grissett Bridge Rd 

Launch:  Southwest corner of bridge.  Short carry over sandbar.

Parking:  Dirt.  Scattered and roadside parking for several vehicles.  Watch for deep sand and ruts.  Along a hwy, but still somewhat isolated.

Facilities:  None.

Magnolia Branch
Campground - upper

Launch:  Tube launch just inside entrance to Magnolia Branch Campground entrance on left.  150-foot carry to water.

Parking:  Dirt parking for several vehicles.  Visible.

Facilities:  None.

NotesParking fee required.  Crowded in the summer.

Magnolia Branch
Campground - lower


Launch:  Enter Magnolia Branch Campground and follow Big Creek Rd about 1.75 miles to end.  150-foot paved ramp.

Parking:  Large gravel parking area.  Fairly visible.

Facilities:  Restroom.

NotesParking fee required.  Crowded in the summer.

Hwy 29 / 31

Launch:  Entrance to landing is across the hwy from Hardee's.  75-foot gravel ramp.  Can also launch from sandbars that are a longer carry.

Parking:  Large gravel parking area.  Visible.

Facilities:  None, but Hardee's less than 0.25 miles away.

Hwy 4 (Escambia River)

Launch:  Access road is about 0.5 miles north of the river (Hwy 4 runs north-south as it crosses the river) on the east side of the road.  100-foot paved ramp.

Parking:  Large gravel and dirt parking area.  Somewhat isolated.

Facilities:  None.