Turkey Creek: great scenery and super fun to paddle
Narrow and twisty with crystal clear water and nice scenery, it is one of our favorite trips.
SKILL LEVEL: Advanced beginner. Not recommended for new paddlers. If you don't have good boat control, you may not enjoy this trip because you'll be in the bushes a lot.
SCENERY: The water is awesome, and there is no development at all until you leave Eglin AFB!
LOCATION: On Eglin AFB near Niceville, Florida.
ONLINE GAUGE: No gauge. High water is not an issue.
Turkey Creek's swift current and narrow channels make it one of the most fun creeks to paddle in the Florida Panhandle. Turkey's current is about as fast as it gets in our area, and, for much of the route, it is too narrow to even have two kayaks side by side. The creek is also loaded with twists and turns. As soon as you finish one turn, you're having to make another and another. There are also plenty of obstacles in the water to dodge. Experienced whitewater paddlers have commented on how the creek keeps you alert. Open water paddlers often leave Turkey Creek very frustrated. If you have enjoyed some other flowing streams and want to practice controlling your canoe or kayak, this is the place to come.
Turkey Creek is nicely canopied, and, if you get too hot, the water is very inviting. In fact, the last mile of the creek is a popular summertime tubing destination. Turkey Creek Park in Niceville, FL has a 3/4 mile long boardwalk along the bottom end of the creek with several tubing launch points. Aside from passing under a few bridges, this is the only sign of development you'll see until the creek empties out into a small bay.
Eglin AFB has an increasing bear population, and, if you are quiet, you may be lucky enough to see one. It is also home to alligators, deer, turkey, and more. Unfortunately, Eglin also has a large wild hog population. The hogs have done extensive damage along the creek that has lead to erosion and the creek getting wider and shallower in sections.
You'll need an Eglin AFB pass to paddle Turkey Creek. We usually run the 8.8 mile trip from the Hippie Hole to Twin Cities Park on John Sims Parkway on the Niceville-Valparaiso border. We would love to paddle the top 2.6 miles, but most of us don't have 4-wheel drive vehicles, and the sand can get pretty deep in spots on RR 637. We occasionally have people who want to do a shorter trip and take out on RR 232. (The shuttle for the RR 233 to RR 232 trip is very short.)
An even more challenging trip option is to launch from RR 637 / RR 641. The topmost 2.6 miles of Turkey Creek are even narrower and twistier than the rest of the trip. You should be prepared for lots of limbo logs and obstacles. For many paddlers, this would be a very slow 2.6 miles. You can take the full 11.4 mile trip down to Twin Cities Park or take out at RR 232.
We do need to issue a weather warning of sorts for Turkey Creek. Turkey used to be our go-to destination after a big rain when other creeks in the area were flooded and not as inviting as usual. Since Turkey Creek has no real banks, high water just spreads out. The upper stretches of Turkey Creek are generally still crystal clear when other streams are muddy with runoff. The problem right now is with RR 233. The road has ruts deep enough to bottom out most vehicles, but which are easily navigated when the road is dry. Unfortunately, the clay on the roads holds water, and you can't tell where to drive through the puddles. We are hoping Eglin makes some improvements on the road.
See more Turkey Creek photos.
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 641 / 637
Launch: 20 feet down bank. RR 641 is south of RR 613.
Parking: Parking for 10+. Isolated.
Notes: Eglin AFB pass required. If you come from the south, you need a 4WD. See map above for directions from north. GPS not reliable to here.
RR 233 (Hippie Hole)
Launch: RR233 is the first crossroad that you will come to as you head west on RR 232 off Hwy 85. 100-foot carry to sandbar
Parking: 15+ cars, some pavement. Isolated.
Notes: Eglin AFB pass required. RR 233 has sections with deep ruts that are easily navigated when dry, but after a heavy rain, you can't see them. We wait until it dries out.
Launch: RR 232 is accessed from Hwy 85 just north of the junction of Hwy 85 and Hwy 123. 60-foot carry on boardwalk.
Parking: 10 or so cars. Pretty isolated.
Notes: Eglin AFB pass required.