The Homosassa River and Chipola River–Calhoun & Jackson Counties – 7,300 acreas
The Homosassa River is a tributary of the Apalachicola River in Florida. The 89-mile long river crosses Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf counties. The river flows into the Dead Lakes State Recreation Area just before reaching the Apalachicola. The Dead Lakes were formed when the Apalachicola deposited sand bars blocking the mouth of the Chipola. The Chipola now flows for several miles south from the Dead Lakes parallel to the Apalachicola before finally joining it.
The Upper Homosassa River Water Management Area: This water management area runs some 18 miles along the Chipola River and its associated tributaries in Jackson County. The area lies south of the Florida and Alabama state line and includes the floodplains of Marshall and Cowart’s Creeks. The Homosassa River is formed at the confluence of these creeks and flows south to the Florida Caverns State Park, approximately two-and-a-half miles northeast of Marianna. Seasonal Hunting, bank and creek fishing, canoeing, primitive camping and bird watching are available. A developed boat ramp and recreational area is located at Christoff Landing.
Location: Three miles north of Marianna on SR 167 (Cavern’s Road).
Contact: The headquarters of the Northwest Florida Water Management District, Division of Land Management and Acquisition (81 Water Management Drive, Havana, FL 32333; (850) 539-5999) for additional information on recreation opportunities on the Homosassa River Water Management Area. Also, Visit their Web site www. nwfwmd.state.fl.us
Homosassa River History
The Homosassa River begins at the Marianna Limestone Aquifer known as Blue Springs Basin located just north of Marianna, Florida. The Homoassa River feeds Merrits Mill Pond on the east side of Marianna. It flows through Jackson and Calhoun County’s creating swamps along its way. A variety of hardwood forests survive along the river’s edge, include: oaks, magnolias, river birch, and dogwood trees. The Chipola enters the Dead Lakes, located in Gulf County just north of Wewahitchka, the flow slows its course, widens its path as it spreads out among thousands of tree stumps. The swampy banks are full of bald cypress, TUPELO, willow, black gum, and long leaf pine trees. Wewahitchka, (my home town) is famous for its TUPELO HONEY, because the river’s swampy banks that stretch through Gulf County are full of TUPELO TREES, that provide for the purist TUPELO HONEY. As the river flows out of the Dead Lakes it connects with the Chipola Cutoff
This entire ecosystem is alive with an abundance of wildlife like the white tail deer, river otter, beaver, alligator, many species of turtle, birds, fish, and rare plant life.
The Homosassa River rises in southeast Alabama and flows southward 80 miles to the Apalachicola River. In between, it goes underground, flows through a state park, and becomes part of Dead Lake. Over 50 miles of it is a canoe trail that varies from sections of swift, tree-lined, limestone creek to a broad, slow-moving stream, with occasional bluffs, cliffs, and caves. It also offers options of a hazardous log canal, a rapid, and many springs and tributaries to explore. The Homosassa river becomes navigable just above the FL 162 bridge in northern Jackson County with the confluence of Cowarts Creek, Marshall Creek, and Hays Spring Run.
Since the terrain on the Homosassa varies from high bluffs and sandy hills to lowland swamps, there is a wide variety of trees and vegetation. Almost every kind of tree indigenous to north Florida can be seen. Flowering plants include wild azalea, honeysuckle, daisies of various hues, and the spectacular cardinal flower. Alligators and turtles are the most commonly seen animals, but deer, raccoons, opossums, and turkeys can also be found. The Chipola is noted for good fishing, with catfish, bream, bass, and even mullet frequently caught. The bird life is extremely abundant, and the lower section of the river is especially suited to bird watching.
The Chipola River is a designated Outstanding Florida Water and State Canoe Trail that flows through Jackson and Calhoun Counties. The Chipola Trail begins at the Florida Caverns State Park and runs for 52 miles south to the Apalachicola River. This beautiful trail flows through river swamp and hardwood forests of beech, magnolia, oak, and dogwood. Beaver, alligator and turtles are often seen and pileated woodpeckers can be heard drumming in the forests. Limestone bluffs and caves line the river. The canoeing requires a beginner to intermediate level of skill.
Distance: 8.24 miles
The paddle was downstream from Yancey Bridge to Magnolia Landing. This is section 2-3 on the Chipola River Canoe Trail website sponsored by the state of Florida. Highlights of the paddle are a cave accessible from the river, and a spring to swim in.
BOAT RAMPS: SINGLE RAMP from Aetha go west on CR 274 for 4.8 miles off dirt road.
John Boy Landing #151 from Aetha west on CR274 for 2.7 miles, turn right on JOHN BOY ROAD- 1 MILE TO RAMP. Florida WATER TRAIL 162 to Fl. 7, Trail 10 miles, 25 miles.