The Blackwater River
The Blackwater River offers some outstanding paddling, and is suitable for the rank beginner. The Fellow Travelers have canoed this stream several times, and it has been great every time. The first stretch mentioned in the Carter-Pearce guide is at Alligator Branch which is almost at the Alabama line. The one time this point was attempted proved it to be impassable due to low water and downed trees. The Florida Canoe Trail begins at Kennedy Bridge, a location which is located in the obscure woods of northwest Florida. This put-in point has a great sandy beach, and it is likely to have quite a few people there. Leaving cars there could be risky, but the group has done so with no bad results. There were bad results using one of the canoe shuttle service because the outfitter more than doubled his quoted price to shuttle the drivers from Blackwater River State Park to the bridge.
The river is shallow and twisting, and there is enough current to make the trip enjoyable. There are plenty of neat sandbars which offer opportunity for camping or playing in the river. Firewood is plentiful. Teadon Bridge is on this section. There is little traffic on the bridge, but there is a good swimming hole complete with a rope for those wishing to splash a bit. Sometimes there will be campers at the site. There is a wayside with bathrooms at Cotton Bridge, which is ten miles below Kennedy Bridge. Florida SR 4 crosses the river there, and at times tubers use this access as a put-in.
Blackwater River State Park is eight miles downstream. The trip from the wayside park to the state park shows more of the same. The water remains shallow, and the sandbars are still available for camping. The trail ends at the state park, and there is a sign mandating that all canoes take out there. The state park offers the usual Florida accommodations.
The scenery along the river is very pretty. It traverses mainly hardwood forests. The banks are generally low. At times, the river is crowded. A canoeist will encounter downed trees in the upper stretches, and may even find a few pull-overs. But the trip is really great.