Blackwater River boasts an incredible array of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, many centered around the park’s namesake waterway.
Despite its name—Blackwater, or the original Oka-lusa (water black) in the Muscogee language—the Blackwater River is normally a transparent golden-brown when seen against the white sandbars. Most of the stream flows through undeveloped lands of the Blackwater State Forest and Blackwater River State Park, core areas of the largest contiguous longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem left in the world, one described as being rarer than a tropical rainforest. Water seeping from this forest is as pure as they come, merely tinted with tannins from leaves and roots of shoreline vegetation.
Canoeing, kayaking, camping and picnicking are popular activities in the park along with strolling through the park’s forested nature trails.
The campground consists of thirty sites nestled among towering Longleaf pine, Magnolia trees, and Atlantic white cedar. The Magnolia loop features a playground that is easily viewed from most of the sites in the loop. The sites range from fully shaded to sunny. Each campsite has 20, 30, and 50-amp electric service, potable water connections, RV sewer hookup, picnic table, fire ring and grill. The sites can accommodate all types of tent camping and up to 50 foot RVs. A playground is available for the kids. From the campground, the Juniper Lake Trail opens up to the unspoiled beauty of the Blackwater River for hikers, beachgoers, and anglers. A well-maintained restroom with showers is located between the two loops, and is accessible via boardwalk from each camping loop. Pets are welcome in designated areas.
For campers who wish to use it, a dump station is located on the campground road.
Maximum RV length = 50 ft.
Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.
The cool, clear waters and sandy white beaches of the Blackwater River attract paddlers from far and wide and has been designated a Florida canoe trail. The last two miles of the trail are located within the park. Bring your canoes or tubes to truly enjoy the beauty of the Blackwater River. Deaton Bridge in the park is the ending point for all canoe trips, there is no river access beyond the bridge and major blockage exists downstream of the bridge. Visitors may contact the park at 850-983-5363 for more information.
For Canoe, Kayak, or Tube rentals please contact Blackwater Canoe Rental at 850-623-0235.
Fishing is a popular activity on Blackwater River. Anglers can expect to catch Largemouth Bass, panfish, and catfish. The best places to fish will be areas of still water where the current in the river is slower. There are also several ox-bow lakes in the park which offer some good opportunities to fish. Feel free to check with park staff if you have any questions about fishing in the park. To improve your chances of catching fish, look for areas on the river without swimmers.
All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. A fishing license may be required, they can be purchased on-line or by contacting the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-347-4356. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
There are several geocaches at Blackwater River State Park. Can you find them all? Be sure to check Geocaching.com for a full listing of the area.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.
The Operation Recreation GeoTour hosted by Geocaching.com, stretches from Pensacola to Key West and includes 71 of the First Three Time National Gold Medal Award Winning Florida State Parks and Trails. Visit 20 caches and win the Official Operation Recreation Geocoin. Download and print the Official Tracking Sheet to begin your adventure.
The Florida Park Service is proud to announce it has launched the Operation Recreation Kids GeoTour. Look inside Operation Recreation GeoTour geocaches for one of six possible Nature Cards. Every cache has one of six species. Record the name of the Florida State Park where you first find each of the six species on the Kids Official Tracking Sheet. Find all six species and win the ORGT Kids GeoTour Geocoin!
Blackwater River State Park features three trail walking opportunities totaling almost 4.5 miles. These trails showcase the amazing natural communities found in the park. The terrain is occasionally wet, especially during the rainy season, so choose your footwear accordingly.
From the South Bridge Parking Area, use the crosswalk to cross Deaton Bridge Road and access the Chain of Lakes Nature Trail. This 1.75-mile loop trail starts off in the Blackwater River Floodplain forest, winding through a chain of oxbow lakes marking the former route of the river. The trail takes a dramatic turn as you walk up into the Sandhill community in the park. Here, giant Longleaf pines tower over wiregrass and turkey oak. Visitors in the summer might be lucky enough to spot an endangered Panhandle Lily. Watch your step on this trail as there are numerous earthen steps and some exposed roots.
From the North Bridge Parking Area, a 1-mile section of the Juniper Creek trail passes through Blackwater River State Park. This trail serves as a gateway into Blackwater River State Forest. Take the sidewalk from the parking area to the restrooms, then follow the blue blazed trail to the right past the picnic pavilions. The trail leads you on an exciting hike through the floodplain swamp over a narrow catwalk bridge, continuing through expansive pine flatwoods. Please be aware this is not a loop trail and the trail continues approximately 7.5-miles through Blackwater River State Forest. The Juniper Creek Trail is maintained by volunteers through a partnership with the Florida Trail Association and is a component of the Florida National Scenic Trail System.
The third trail in the park is almost .75-miles and links the Pavilion Area to the Campground. The Juniper Lake Trail is accessed using the Pavilion Boardwalk system. From the Pavilion Parking Lot, take the boardwalk towards Pavilion #23. Just before the pavilion, a set of stairs leads you down to the trail, follow this trail for breathtaking views of Blackwater River and get the opportunity to view some of the fascinating wildlife found in the park. As the trail loops around one of the largest oxbow lakes in the park, Juniper Lake, you will see an abundance of Juniper trees which give the trail and lake its name. Watch your step on this trail as there are numerous earthen steps and some exposed roots.
Be sure to bring a picnic lunch on your visit to Blackwater River State Park. Each day use area at the park features places to picnic. There are shaded picnic tables in the South Bridge day use area that offer beautiful views of Blackwater River and Deaton Bridge. On the North side of Deaton Bridge, there are restrooms and two small covered picnic tables with easy access to hiking trails in the park. Both picnic areas are convenient to beaches and hiking trails.
Blackwater River flows through the State Park. White sandy beaches provide numerous opportunities to take a cool dip to escape the heat of a Florida summer. The main swimming area is accessible via a boardwalk from the Pavilion Parking lots. There are two large covered pavilions, two large restrooms, and an outdoor shower for park visitors to use after a fun day on the beaches. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and a picnic lunch if you plan to spend the day. Please be aware lifeguards are not on duty and the park recommends that visitors who are not strong swimmers use a U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation device. For current information on water levels, visitors may contact the park at 850-983-5363.
The cool, clear waters and sandy white beaches of the Blackwater River attract tubers from far and wide and has been designated a Florida canoe trail. The last two miles of the trail are located within the park. Bring your tubes to truly enjoy the beauty of the Blackwater River. There is nothing like a leisurely float down the river on a hot summer day. Deaton Bridge in the park is the ending point for all canoe trips, there is no river access beyond the bridge and major blockage exists downstream of the bridge.
For tube rental information please contact Blackwater Canoe Rental at 850-623-0235. Visitors may contact the park at 850-983-5363 for more information on the river as well as current river conditions.
The trails and river offer numerous opportunities to view wildlife in the park. Early morning visitors might be lucky enough to find Whitetail deer on the trails or see wading birds like Herons and Egrets from the river and beaches. Blackwater River State Park is also a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail and provides birders with an opportunity to spot the Federally Endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker. A complete list of bird species is available at the Ranger Station.
There are three paved parking lots with river access and one dirt parking lot for canoe trail parking. If you are planning to use the parking areas located at Deaton Bridge be sure to get there early, especially on weekends and holidays in the summer, as parking in these areas is limited. Do not worry if you arrive late and they are full, the Pavilion Parking Area is located approximately one-half mile North of Deaton Bridge and has plenty of spaces.
Pets are welcome at Blackwater River State Park as long as they are kept on a six-foot, hand-held leash and are well behaved and under the owner's control at all times. Campers are welcome to bring their pets camping, but pets are not permitted on the beaches or in the water at Blackwater River State Park. See Pet Policy.
There are two large pavilions at Blackwater River State Park. These pavilions offer a welcome break from the sun and heat or during a summer afternoon pop-up shower during a day on the beach. The pavilions feature accessible charcoal barbeque grills and picnic tables and each can accommodate up to 75 people. Both are within short walking distance to the restrooms.
Reservations are available but are not required to use the pavilions. Reservations are recommended for weekends, holidays, and large groups. Please contact the park at (850) 983-5363 for information on availability or to make a reservation.
Blackwater River State Park features several hundred feet of raised boardwalk trail accessible from the pavilion parking lot. This scenic and shady boardwalk connects two restroom facilities and two large picnic pavilions to a large white sandy beach on Blackwater River.
The park also has three accessible campsites available for reservations. For more information regarding accessible amenities at Blackwater River State Park, please call the Park Office at (850) 983-5363.