Paddle nine miles down Turkey Creek, where those who enjoy technical paddling will have plenty of practice with steering skills on the creek’s many turns. Plenty of wildlife can be seen in the water and alongs the creek's banks.
Paddle the nine-mile journey down Turkey Creek, a narrow, winding spring-fed creek that flows through Niceville. The creek is abundant with wildlife along the banks and the sandy bottoms are visible through the crystal clear water. The trees and native grasses lining the shores are flush with green most of the year, and reflect to give the creek a greenish tinge.
What Makes It Great
Turkey Creek starts north in the city of Niceville on the Eglin AFB, and winds downstream to Choctawhatchee Bay for nine miles. Your arms will get a workout as you navigate through the creek’s signature serpentine curves. You’ll know when you reach Turkey Creek Park, because a 900-foot boardwalk crosses over the creek. After the horseshoe bend in the creek, you’ll come across several swimming platforms, where you can pull off and jump into the water. The kayak/canoe launch is just further down. Much of Turkey Creek is in full sun, but tall pines, cypress, and bay trees tower above the banks, and provide shade.
Who is Going to Love It
Those who enjoy technical paddling will have plenty of practice with steering skills on the creek’s many turns. Early morning is the best time to paddle, before the heat of the day. If its cool enough, a layer of fog will cling to the river. This is also the time when wildlife is most active, so keep your eyes peeled for herons, deer, feral hogs, and red woodpeckers. The river is home to alligators, but they will fend for themselves. Turtles hang out on the banks and logs of the river as well. Native plants, including St. John’s Wort and pitcher plants, grow flush on the banks. The northern start of the paddle on Eglin AFB is much more remote, offering peach and solitude, with only the sound of your paddle dipping into the water. Overhanging branches and shallow spots can pose challenges, but the creek is shallow enough that it is easy to overcome any hang up.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Two of the easiest access points are at Hippie Hole off RR 233 on Eglin AFB, or for an almost four mile paddle, put-in at Gooden Bridge off RR 232. In order to access the put-in on Eglin AFB, you’ll have to purchase a recreation permit from the Natural Resources Branch office located at 107 Highway 85 N in Niceville, or online at www.jacksonguard.com. Prior to your paddle trip, check Eglin’s Public Access Map to make sure the area is open to visitors. The dirt access road is located off FL-85 just north of the 85/123 split.
Take out at Turkey Creek Nature Trail, a city park and pavilion located on the banks of Turkey Creek. The address is 340 John Sims Pkwy West, Niceville. Here you’ll find the kayak/canoe launch, as well as restrooms and a pavilion.
Note that motorized boats are not allowed on the river. During drier seasons, water levels can get low and cause shallow sand bars to appear. The creek bottom is easy to walk on, if you need to carry your kayak over these shallow spots.