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Latest update: October 2022

Coldwater Creek... Florida

Kayaking, Canoeing, and Tubing in the FL Panhandle

Milton, Florida, calls itself the Canoe Capital of Florida, and the wealth of paddling opportunities in the area supports that name. One of the most beautiful and popular is Coldwater Creek, a premier Florida Panhandle paddling trail enjoyed for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. This lovely creek is mostly spring fed, which keeps the water cold (leading to its name) with clear shallow water and one of the swiftest currents in Florida (3+ mph). The bottom is sand or river rock, with many sand bars for stretching, picnicking, or camping. Due to the shallow water, there are few if any motor boats until the confluence with the Blackwater River. Water levels may vary, check with outfitters for current conditions. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Coldwater Creek, FL Panhandle paddling

Distance: 19-mile State designated paddling trail (total is longer)
Location: Santa Rosa County (Milton)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: SR 4 Bridge, Coldwater Recreation Area (Gordon Landing), Adventures Unlimited, Old Steel Bridge, CR 191 Bridge (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Milton, Blackwater River State Forest, Blackwater River State Park

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Adventures Unlimited (rentals, drop-off)

Bob's Canoes (rentals, drop-off)

 

 

Paddling Coldwater Creek... Comments and Photos

Some mini-rapids along the creek add variety and a paddling challenge. In the dry season it may be necessary to pull your kayak or canoe over the sandbars. The upper creek is within Blackwater River State Forest, undeveloped and remote. Further downstream (past Gordon Landing) there are a few private homes and docks along the creek, but overall this is a rural and beautiful paddle. Especially popular during the summer with many tubers (especially in the area close to Adventures Unlimited), paddling during the week is recommended or wait until after Labor Day. The river flows past pine and hardwood forest, hammock, sandhill, and scrub. Wildlife include deer, turtles, alligators, herons, woodpeckers and other birds. There is little vegetation in the water, we saw few fish.

 Page Summary:

  1. Paddling on Coldwater Creek
    - Gordon's Landing - Top Section
    - 7-mile Run - Middle Section
  2. More Launches
    - Wagner Bridge - Middle Section
    - Old Steel Bridge - Lower Section
    - SR 191 - Lower Section
  3. Nearby Places of Interest
    - Milton, FL
    - Blackwater River State Park
  4. More Information and Resources

Paddling on Coldwater Creek

Gordon Landing, Access Pt. 2 - Top Section

We launched at Gordon Landing (Coldwater Recreation Area), large parking area but no other facilities. (Note: The parking area is not actually at the Coldwater Recreation Area which is equestrian, but across the road on the southwest side of Gordon Land Road bridge.) It's a short haul to the sandy beach / launch. We paddled upstream toward the SR4 bridge. The shallow water and swift current made the upstream paddle a workout. In a couple of spots it was shallow and we had to pull our kayaks through. It was a weekday and we were the only ones on this section of the paddling trail.

At the Landing

On the Creek


7-mile Run, to Access Pt. 3 - Middle Section

We used the shuttle at Adventures Unlimited for their 7-mile run (they also offer 4, 11 and 15 mile trips, camping, cabins, and a zipline). From the drop-off, we paddled upstream a short distance, but then turned around and let the swift current carry us. We enjoyed the remote location and beautiful scenery - the tall bluffs and mini-rapids were notable features. Since the creek is mostly shallow it's important to keep vigilant to avoid logs and other obstacles. We visited during the week and met few people on the creek. The take-out is Tomahawk Landing (Adventures Unlimited private landing).

Drop-off to Springhill Rd.

Springhill Rd. to Landing

More Launches

There are 5 designated access points on the designated paddling trail, along with other access points - some on private property so verify before using.

Wagner Bridge - Middle Section

Note: this is not a State-designated Access Point and we would not recommend leaving your car overnight. The access at Wagner Bridge (along Springhill Rd.) has limited roadside parking and no facilities. A steep, narrow path leads down to the creek. This is a strategic location to drop-off or pick-up tubers, and it probably serves a few local kayakers as well


Old Steel Bridge, Access Pt. 4 - Lower Section

The access is on the southwest side of the creek along unpaved but well-maintained Steel Bridge Road. Ample parking, no facilities, easy on-and-off dirt ramp. Remains of the Old Steel Bridge (Fleming Bridge) are across the creek. Bob's Canoes private landing is downstream


SR 191, Access Pt. 5 - Lower Section

This marks the end of the Designated Paddling Trail. The access area is on the southeast side of the SR 191 (Munson Hwy.) Bridge. Parking is along the dirt road leading down from the highway. The launch is down a short dirt ramp at the foot of the bridge. Nearby Bob's Canoes provides rentals and drop-off for a 5-mile trip or overnight campout.

Nearby Places of Interest

Milton, Florida

The City of Milton is one of Florida's oldest towns, now the county seat of Santa Rosa County. First settled in the early 1800's for lumbering, it was incorporated as a town in 1844 - a year before the Territory of Florida became the 27th state. A designated Florida Main Street Community, the Downtown Historic District is on the National Historic Register. Fires in 1885 and 1892 destroyed much of the town, but it was rebuilt and many of those later structures remain. Located along the Blackwater River, Milton is known as the "Canoe Capital of Florida" for the many rivers in the area - kayaking, canoeing, tubing and fishing are popular on the Blackwater River and nearby Coldwater Creek and beyond (see paddling links below).


Milton Riverwalk

The Milton Riverwalk is along the Blackwater River at the US 90 bridge, part of the Historic Downtown and near restaurants and shops. This is a boardwalk with picnicking, benches, and a gazebo, plus Santa Rosa County's Veteran's Memorial Plaza. The Blackwater Landing historic marker commemorates the town's shipping heydays, 1800's-1930's.

More information


West Florida Railroad Museum

The interesting West Florida Railroad Museum centers on the historic L&N Train Depot (1907, replacing the 1882 original) with exhibits, a gift shop, old railroad cars, and outbuildings. A model railroading club gives children (ages 3-12) rides on a scale model railroad on weekends - popular local attraction based on the number of families we saw.

More information


Blackwater River State Park

Blackwater River State Park along the Blackwater River provides parking, restrooms, camping (30 campsites, reservations required), picnic facilities, and a playground. Activities include paddling, hiking (4.5 miles of nature trails), and swimming at the white sand beach along the river. A portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail runs through the park. Wildlife may include deer, bobcat, black bears, turkey, river otter, and beaver. It's part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife rail. State Park fee applies.

More information

More Information and Resources

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