Paddling Spring Creek

As a newcomer to southwest Georgia, I was excited at the prospect of kayaking Lake Seminole and the Flint River.

I expected to find a paddling group nearby. I didn’t have any luck finding one in the Bainbridge area. So, I contacted the Tallahassee Outdoors Meetup Group (http://www.meetup.com/Tallahassee-Outdoors). I joined them on a kayaking trip on Piney Z Lake and Lake Lafayette. Just minutes from downtown Tallahassee, there is a fabulous canoe/kayak trail filled with water lilies and wading birds. It is approximately 7.8 miles round-trip.

Soon after, I found another paddling group, the Apalachee Canoe and Kayak Club (http://www.clubkayak.com/ackc/). Some of their favorite paddling trips include the Chipola River, the Sopchoppy River and the Wacissa River. Their membership is around 200 individuals and includes canoeists, river kayakers, sea kayakers and whitewater aficionados.

In November, I read that the West Florida Canoe and Kayak Club (http://www.clubkayak.com/wfckc/) was going to paddle Spring Creek. It was part of a camping weekend at Three Rivers State Park located on Lake Seminole in Sneads, Fla. Frances Stone coordinated five different paddles during the weekend.

I met up with the group at the boat ramp on U.S. 84 West in Brinson, Ga., approximately 8 miles west of Bainbridge.

We had nine kayakers along with our trip leader, Frances Stone, in her canoe. Some kayakers came from as far as Pensacola and Huntsville, Ala. We left one of the kayakers with our boats while we drove to our take-out point at Smith’s Landing. Then we all drove back in two vehicles to start our paddle.

As we began our paddle, we saw numerous logs on the bottom of the creek. These are from an old timber mill. There were two small creeks that we paddled, which led us to amazing clear blue springs. We stopped to eat our lunch at one of these springs.

Deborah Ambler Mitchell brought her grandson along and he had a bucket with a glass bottom he used to view the fish and objects underwater. This is an excellent way to see the bottom of a clear creek. You can make one by using a five-gallon white paint bucket; cut the bottom out and put in a clear piece of Plexiglas using a clear silicone adhesive, or you can purchase one at www.birdsallmarine.com.

As we continued our paddle, we enjoyed the beautiful fall scenery and schools of fish swimming by. There were two shoals with rock ledges that we all safely passed over by selecting the right spots. There are three buoys that mark the way to the take-out at Smith’s Landing. The paddle from U.S. 84 to Smith’s Landing is 8 miles.

Spring Creek is one of the hidden gems for paddling in the southwest corner of Georgia.

It is spring-fed and clear. The headwaters are in Clay and Calhoun counties and the creek flows south into Lake Seminole.

The water is so clear in the upper sections that you can see the underwater plant life, limestone bottom and schools of fish. Cypress, pine and hardwood forests line the banks.

If you want to kayak or canoe without worrying about boat traffic, put in at U.S. 84 in Brinson; there is a nice boat ramp there.

After you cross the Spring Creek bridge, turn left on State Road 285 and immediately turn left for the boat ramp. The take-out at Smith’s Landing is an eight-mile paddle, or you can go another three miles to Decatur Landing on Spring Creek Road.

There is also another take-out a little farther down, which is on Ralph King Road. I recommend leaving a vehicle at each end so that you don’t have to paddle upstream to return. South of Decatur Landing the creek widens and you will encounter more boat traffic. Depending on the water level, it can be a very easy paddle or it can be somewhat tricky to navigate around the shoals and numerous timber deadfalls. It is rated a Class I (+) creek.

There are three more access points above U.S. 84.

The first is in Colquitt at the Highway 91 bridge; the second is at White’s Bridge and the third is at Lane’s Bridge. From Lane’s Bridge to U.S. 84 is seven miles. You can find each of these access points by driving north on 310 toward Colquitt.

If you are interested in paddling with experienced paddlers, the Florida Panhandle Canoe and Kayak Connection (www.fpckc.com) sponsors paddles in the Florida panhandle area and posts paddling trip reports for the northwest Florida area and occasionally southern Alabama and Georgia on the Greenwave Forum (www.clubkayak.com/greenwave), a Florida state-wide paddling website. It is so much more fun and safer to paddle with a group. You will meet other paddlers and learn about numerous paddling opportunities.

More of my photographs can be viewed at http://joyscreations.photium.com and on my blog at www.bainbridgeoutdoors.wordpress.com.

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