The Chipola River, Florida’s largest tributary, is a gift to Jackson County, providing an abundance of recreational activities and scenic views. Residents enjoys fishing and canoeing along the cool waters, while divers and snorkelers spend hours searc
hing for ancient treasures hidden beneath the surface. Children of all ages go tubing and swimming. Hunting and camping along the banks of the river are also popular pastimes.
The confluence of Marshall and Cowarts creeks forms the start of the Chipola River in north central Jackson County, which meanders south and establishes the eastern boundary of the city of Marianna. More than any other county in Florida, Jackson County is home to a bounty of springs, one of the largest and most popular being the Blue Spring, which contributes 122 million gallons of fresh water to the Chipola River each day. Thirty-three other first-magnitude springs also are tributaries to this beautiful river, which issues into the Apalachicola River, by flow, the largest river in the state.
Rare and endangered plants and animals are prominent along this ecologically vital area. Gray bats and blind cave salamanders call this diverse land home, as do a plenitude of freshwater fish, mussels and crayfish. The area has attracted the attention of numerous scientists and conservationists, dedicated to preserving this important region.
The Chipola River Canoe Trail is part of Florida’s statewide system of Greenways and Trails. The start of the canoe trail is at Florida Caverns State Park, close to the city of Marianna, where visitors can experience a network of caves and limestone formations made by constant droplets of mineral water. The trail continues through river swamps and hardwood forests. Alligators, turtles and beavers can be seen swimming through the cool waters or sunning themselves along the warm banks.
The Chipola River basin is home to a huge agricultural community, providing the rich soil necessary to make Jackson County Florida’s largest peanut-producing county. This verdant land is also home to Chipola College and a University of Florida Research and Education Center. Education, rich biodiversity, picturesque views and exciting recreational activities abound in the Chipola River region and throughout the lush beauty of Jackson County.
The Upper Chipola 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 Chipola 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 Chipola River Water Management Area. Also, Visit their Web site www. nwfwmd.state.fl.us