Boiling Creek (and Little Boiling): arguably, the prettiest creek in the Panhandle
Crystal clear water, flowing grasses, and nothing but nature make this a premier destination.
SKILL LEVEL: Advanced beginner. The current on the narrow sections may give some people trouble. Little Boiling is definitely tougher.
SCENERY: On a sunny day -- wow!
LOCATION: On Eglin AFB near Milton, Florida.
ONLINE GAUGE: No gauge. High water is not an issue, but you might check the Yellow River if you are planning to finish your trip on it.
Boiling Creek is one of our favorite destinations because of the natural beauty and the complete lack of development (it is entirely on Eglin AFB). If you are quiet, you may see alligators, beavers, otters, snapping turtles, deer, and more. There are also several osprey nests along the creek. The water is crystal clear, so you should be looking down, as well as up. There aren't a lot of stopping places along the river, but you can generally find a shallow spot to rest in your canoe or kayak.
While the creek is awesome year round, spring blooms of pitcher plants with their red flowers are particularly popular. We love the flowing grasses in the water. If we get hot in the summertime, this water is downright cold!
You'll need an Eglin AFB pass to paddle Boiling Creek, but this trip alone is worth the price of admission. Our favorite trip is to launch on Little Boiling Creek and take out at the Hwy 87 bridge on the Yellow River, a total distance of 8.8 miles. (There is a shortcut on the Yellow River that shaves 0.6 miles off the total, if you find it.) Unfortunately, the Hwy 87 Bridge access is temporarily closed while they work on the highway.
That still leaves other options. You could launch your kayak at Little Boiling and take out at RR 787, a 5.8 mile trip, but RR 787 has occasional flooding issues. You can always do an out-and-back trip from RR 211. If you paddle upstream, it is about 1.4 miles to the junction with Little Boiling and another mile or so to the edge of the off limits red zone (there is no marker).
Below RR 211 there are a few dead-end side channels that provide interesting scenery and the chance for wildlife encounters. There is also a narrow side channel on your left (as you head downstream) that circles back out and rejoins Boiling Creek. This is our preferred route, but both options are nice.
Boiling Creek is great even when the water is high. Since the creek doesn't have real banks along it, the water spreads out into swampy areas. One thing you will notice is that in very high water, you might have to portage around the RR 211 bridge because you can't fit under it.
Little Boiling is one of our favorite parts of the trip, but it is not for everyone. The first mile is very narrow -- as in about three to four feet wide. The current moves swiftly in some of these spots, and you may be bumping into trees. The creek's primary path was blocked by sediment from old runoff (from when Eglin had a clay pit in the past) so your route selection can be iffy. You won't get lost, but if you take the "wrong" route, you will end up walking until you meet back up with the main channel.
River Miles reflect the approximate distances from the previous launch site.
LAUNCH SITE MAP (See next section for clickable directions)
LAUNCH SITE DETAILS & DIRECTIONS
RR 213 (Little Boiling)
Launch: Northeast side of the road. Short 40-foot carry / slide to just below culvert.
Parking: Limited roadside parking. Fairly isolated.
Notes: Eglin AFB pass required. The south side of the road is red zone -- keep out.
Launch: Can launch on north side of bridge or about 200 feet east, depending on whether you are going upstream or down.
Parking: 10+ cars scattered roadside. Fairly isolated.
Notes: Eglin AFB pass required. This is a small area, but it can be crowded in the summer.
Launch: Access RR 787 about 1/2 mile north of RR 211 off Hwy 87. Dirt ramp. Easy carry.
Parking: 10+ cars scattered. Isolated.
Notes: Eglin AFB pass required. High water on the Yellow River may cover part of this road.
Hwy 87 (Yellow River)
Launch: Southeast corner of bridge. Gravel ramp. Easy carry.
Parking: 20+ cars scattered. Fairly visible from Hwy 87.
Notes: Currently CLOSED due to highway construction.