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The Yellow River Canoe Trail near Pensacola

Canoes on a water trip
Canoes on a water trip
Public Domain, US Fish and Wildlife Service

The State of Florida established the Canoe and Kayak Trail System in the 1970's, which is made up of beautiful primitive rivers and creeks throughout the State. The public can learn about these scenic waterways for canoeing, kayaking, paddle sports, wildlife viewing, and related recreational activities. The waterways were selected for their quiet, pristine beauty, mostly untouched by civilization.

The Yellow River in Florida’s western panhandle offers 50 miles of some of the finest canoeing, kayaking, and paddling to be found anywhere in the Southern United States for adventure travel. This trail begins about 12 miles north of Crestview on State Road 2, where the Yellow River is a spirited river draining Florida’s highest point. In this area the fast flowing stream is bounded by hardwood forests and high sandy banks.

The Yellow River begins its journey in Alabama, and flows through Okaloosa County and Santa Rosa County in Florida. The river passes near towns such as Crestview and Milton, where you can find lodging. The river ends and empties into Blackwater Bay near Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park, before joining Pensacola Bay at Garcon Point.

The Yellow River matures rapidly on its downstream course and deepens into a placid river that meanders through marginal swamps of cypress, gum, and other vegetation common to most North Florida floodplains. Once past the sand hills the Yellow River plays host to numerous crystal clear tributaries that offer a variety of side trips for the adventuresome canoeist or kayaker.

Wildlife of all kinds (song birds, alligators, turtles) is in abundance in the upper and middle sections of this trail. In the many streams feeding the Yellow River, fishing is excellent. All in all, this 50 mile trail offers more than 20 hours of pure canoeing or kayaking pleasure. In places, overhanging limbs and snags beneath the brownish waters challenge the canoeist or kayaker, but generally are not too hazardous.

Camping is available at several spots along the trail. Numerous boat ramps give easy access at almost any point, making partial trips available to the less enterprising canoeist or kayaker. The total trail makes a good two or three day trip from start to finish for Florida canoeing.


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