Juniper Creek: a family-friendly trip in the Blackwater Forest
Enjoy a clear, cool, shallow creek with lots of sandbars for breaks and no development to spoil the quiet.
SKILL LEVEL: Beginners, families
SCENERY: Nothing but nature! Sandbars and clear, tea-colored water.
LOCATION: Blackwater Forest near Milton, Florida.
ONLINE GAUGE: No, but check out nearby Blackwater River gauge for a general idea. Juniper Creek's water level tends to fall a little faster than the Blackwater.
Juniper Creek is our go-to destination when we want to introduce newcomers and visitors to to canoeing and kayaking or if we just want a relaxing, peaceful day on the water. This creek runs through the Blackwater Forest and is completely free of development. If you are ready to take a break, odds are there will be a sandbar right around the next corner. We think the sandbars on the Panhandle rivers are almost as nice as our famous beaches. The current is enough to keep you moving along, and the scenery is nice. In normal water conditions, we tell people that if they tip, they should just stand up. The water is typically only knee deep, except in the outside bends. (The view at your launch point is a pretty good indicator of the water levels you can expect downstream.) A section of the Florida Trail runs along the creek between Red Rock Rd and Indian Landing Rd if you want to hike instead.
We like paddling the 8.1 miles from F 44 to Indian Ford Rd, but families may just want to kayak the six-mile section from Red Rock Rd down. The two miles down from F 44 are nice, but there are considerably more obstacles in the water. (We like dodging things.)
We have not launched at Hwy 191 in quite a while because of issues with logjams. We do Juniper Creek because it is mellow, and that 2-mile section doesn't fit the mold. There is also an alternate upstream starting point on Sweetwater Creek that we don't recommend because of all of the pullovers. We don't have info posted on this, but you can also go downstream from Red Rock Rd and take out on the Blackwater River in the Hutton WMA, as long as it isn't hunting season.
River Miles reflect the approximate distances from the previous launch site.
LAUNCH SITE MAP (See next section for clickable directions)
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LAUNCH SITE DETAILS & DIRECTIONS
Hwy 191 (Munson Hwy)
Launch: Southeast side of bridge -- watch for road sign. 200-foot carry on dirt trail.
Parking: Small dirt parking area. Isolated. Can park about 1/4 mile away by the side of the main road for more visibility.
Launch: F44 (dirt road) is 1.9 miles north of the intersection of Red Rock Road and Sandy Forest Road. 300-foot carry on dirt trail.
Parking: Several scattered dirt spots for 10+ cars. Isolated.
Red Rock Rd
Launch: Northwest corner of bridge. Short, easy carry over a sandbar.
Parking: Spots for 15-20 cars. Visible.
Notes: Can be crowded on summer weekends, but you generally leave the crowds behind on the creek.
Indian Ford Rd
Launch: Southwest corner of bridge. Short, easy carry. Dirt ramp.
Parking: Close parking for 10 or so cars. Large overflow parking area nearby. Visible.
Notes: Can be crowded on summer weekends.