The Blackwater River

A view of visitors canoeing down the Blackwater River.

The park’s sandy bottom, white beaches and large sandbars are a sharp contrast to the dark tannic water that gives the river its name. Designated a Florida Paddling Trail, the river and the park are part of the statewide system of greenways and trails.

The Blackwater River is unmodified by dams and reservoirs. Winding through rural areas and conservation land, the river is considered one of the cleanest rivers in the nation. This wild and natural river draws attention from scientists studying the insect life on its unusual shifting sandy bottom.

The river feels prehistoric, and it’s likely that as long as people have been here they have been using it for transportation and recreation. Archaeological evidence suggests a prehistoric Native American presence along the area’s rivers and seepage streams. In the early-19th century, settlers from Alabama and Georgia migrated here to take advantage of rich timber resources.

Floating along the river in a canoe or tube, it’s easy to imagine why people sought out this place. Wide, sandy banks are the perfect spot to stop for a picnic. The river is shallow, with an average depth of 2.5 feet. That means even though the river is tannic, or colored dark by nutrients that leach out of leaves, its waters are a clear golden-brown against a shallow, sandy bed. Swimming is a popular activity, as is spotting the wildlife that gathers near the banks and in the pine forests overhead.

Also on the banks of the river is one of the largest and oldest Atlantic white cedars. This tree was recognized in 1982 as a Florida Champion Tree, meaning that it is the largest example of its species in the state.