While there is something for everyone on Econfina Creek, not everyone should paddle all of the creek. The 11.3 mile trip from Scotts Bridge Rd to Walsingham Landing is tough and is best left for paddlers with a little more experience. Even though the current is nice and fast at typical water levels, you should still allow a minimum of 7-8 hours for your trip because of all of the obstacles that you may encounter. It seems like there are always plenty of pullovers and limbo logs, no matter what the water level. Having said that, there is definitely a reason this trip is one of our favorites that we do every year.
If you launch at Scotts Bridge Rd, you want to pay particular attention to the water level. There is a visual gauge under the bridge. The lower it is, the safer the trip. Advanced beginners would probably do best with water levels below 3.0 feet. (The online downstream gauge generally, but not always, reads about 4.0 to 4.5 feet higher.) A reading of 1.5 to 1.8 feet at Scott’s Bridge is nice because you have a “log flume” effect for part of the trip and still have a zippy current. There is a smaller channel that is exposed at water levels below 2.0 feet or so. We have also been on the trip when the gauge reading was a good bit below 1.0 (the gauge was out of the water). Solo canoes have an advantage when water is sparse. Water levels between 3.0 and 5.0 feet should probably be left to intermediate-level paddlers and above. The higher the water level, the stronger the current you should expect. When the water level starts getting above 5.0 feet, you have to worry about dodging tree limbs in some sections downstream. It might be best to go another day.
One other warning on the Scotts Bridge to Walsingham trip – the shuttle. You will pass through a giant subdivision (that never was) on the trip. GPSs and Google Maps have no idea how to get through the maze. Following them is a nice way to explore the scenery and find gated roads. You can find the directions that we actually use in the Map and Launch Site section below.
Advanced beginners can handle the 7.1 mile trip from Walsingham to Hwy 20, as long as they are up for potential pullovers and limbo logs. One recent trip on this section at relatively low water levels had us doing about a dozen pullovers – some easy; some not so easy. Some of our gang in the area do try to keep the river cleared out, though. If you do this trip, be sure to go up the spring runs you see along the way. Our map below has info on the springs, too, if you launch it.
All of the trips below Hwy 20 are family friendly, but we avoid the Hwy 20 to Hwy 388 section in the summer months because of crowds. Another option is the short out-and-back trip heading downstream from Hwy 20 to check out the Ganier Springs group. In addition to being quite beautiful, you will often find giant tadpoles at Ganier Springs, too.
One warning if you do the short 5-mile trip taking out at Hwy 2301: you should carry a map or GPS because the takeout is not on the main channel. I might have missed this takeout if not for a friend who knew the way.