The Blackwater River of Florida is a 58-mile (93 km) long river arising in southern Alabama and flowing through the Florida Panhandle to the Gulf of Mexico. The river enters Florida in Okaloosa County and flows through Santa Rosa County to Blackwater Bay, an arm of Pensacola Bay. The river passes through Blackwater River State Park. Milton, the county seat of Santa Rosa County, is located on the river.
The Blackwater's sandy bottom, white beaches and large sandbars contrast with the dark tannic water that gives the river its name.
31 miles (50 km) of the river are navigable by canoe, kayak or small boats. This section of the river, from Kennedy Bridge near Munson, Florida to Deaton Bridge in the Blackwater River State Park, is designated a Florida Canoe Trail part of a statewide system of greenways and trails.
The river's average flow rate is 2-3 miles per hour, with an average depth of 2.5 feet. Depending on rainfall, water levels can fluctuate rapidly and low-lying areas are seasonally flooded by the river. This floodplain supports a wide variety of flora and fauna.
The river has spawned many oxbow lakes, some of which can be seen from the river.
The navigable section of the river begins at Kennedy Bridge on State Forestry Road 24 (Kennedy Bridge Road) east of Munson, Florida. The next access point is six miles downstream at Peaden Bridge on State Forestry Road 50 (Peaden Bridge Road). Five miles downstream, between Munson and Baker, Florida, is Cotton Bridge on State Road 4. Twelve miles downstream is Bryant Bridge, on State Forestry Road 21 (Bryant Bridge Road) near Holt, Florida. The final access point, and the end of the Florida Canoe Trail, is eight miles downstream at Deaton Bridge on State Forestry Road 23 in Blackwater River State Park.
Welcome to Blackwater River State Park
A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreation. The river is one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation, making this park a popular place for swimming, fishing, camping, and paddling. Shaded campsites are just a short walk from the river, and visitors can enjoy a picnic at a pavilion overlooking the river. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy strolling along trails through undisturbed natural communities. In 1980 the park was certified as a Registered State Natural Feature for possessing exceptional value in illustrating the natural history of Florida. Atlantic white cedars line the river and one of them was recognized in 1982 as a Florida Champion tree, one of the largest and oldest of its species. Located 15 miles northeast of Milton, off U.S. 90.
Aquatic plants include water fern, water lily, coontail, bladderwort and spatterdock. Oak, maple, sycamore, magnolia, holly, tupelo, mountain laurel and azaleas dominate the forest along the river and streams of the floodplain. Carnivorous plants such as parrot pitcher plants, white-top pitcher plants and sundews can also be found. Upland pine forests are mixed with turkey oak, sweetgum, flowering dogwood and persimmon. Open canopy forests combine several types of pine and dense groundcovers that include gallberry, saw palmetto, wild blueberry, wax myrtle and wiregrass. Atlantic white cedars line the river.