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Reported: May 2012

Holmes Creek... Paddling in Florida's Panhandle

Holmes Creek in the Florida Panhandle is a beautiful paddling run, spring-fed and mostly clear. The creek flows from near the Florida-Alabama border to the Choctawhatchee River; the 16-mile Holmes Creek Paddling Trail starts at Vernon and ends at Live Oak Landing (a new launch at Cotton Landing north of Vernon adds 3 miles to the trip).  (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 16 miles (Vernon to Live Oak paddling trail)
Location: Washington County (Vernon, Florida)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Cotton Landing (CR 277), Culpepper Landing (CR 277), Vernon Wayside Park (SR 79), Fanning Branch Landing (SR 79), Spurling Landing (SR 79), Brunson Landing (CR 278), Hightower Springs Landing (SR 79),  Live Oak Landing (SR 284 to Hancock Road). See map, left.
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Vernon (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Panama City Beach, St. Andrews State Park, Florida Caverns State Park

To the north the river is difficult to paddle due to high banks and sand bars, but at Vernon it opens up and is an easy paddle with a slow current and clear water. The landings provide good launches and some have facilities. You may see motorboats near the boat ramps, but generally kept to a minimum by shallow water and deadfall.

The creek is fed by dozens of springs, and is a favorite for snorkeling and diving. Cypress Springs (about 3 miles north of Vernon) is the largest, a second-magnitude spring. The park around the spring, however, is now in private hands and closed to the public. Nearby Beckton Springs and Magnolia Springs also feed the creek and are popular swimming and snorkeling sites. The abundant wildlife includes turtles, alligators, fish and birds such as blue heron, ibis, egrets, and woodpeckers.

Paddling at Holmes Creek
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Holmes Creek - Vernon to Fanning Branch Landing
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Holmes Creek - Live Oak Landing toward Hightower Spring
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Landings
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Live Oak Landing Fanning Branch Landing
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Hightower Springs Landing

More information on paddling on Holmes Creek (opens in a new window):

- Florida Department of Greenways and Trails - Holmes Creek Paddling Trail

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Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Holmes Creek

Outfitters/Rentals

Old Cypress Canoe Rentals

Snaggy Bend  Outfitters


Vernon, Florida, weather forecast