Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area Paddling Trail

arwea-paddling3.jpg arwea-paddling1.jpg arwea-paddling2.jpg

The Apalachicola River WEA Paddling Trail System is made up of nearly 100 miles of wilderness paddling trails. This online guide features 11 trip options for paddlers of all abilities.

Before you go, review our wilderness paddling tips to make sure your experience is the best that it can be. Look over our safety and stewardship information and additional resources to prepare yourself for a safe, satisfying adventure.

Maps and detailed directions:

The 4 trips below provide a sampling of paddling trail options:


ARWEA_PaddlersGrahamCreek.jpgGraham Creek - Trip 1

Here you will find a pristine blackwater creek with stands of old tupelo and cypress, beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and few powerboats. Visit in late fall when cypress trees blaze in their golden glory.

[Route Map PDF]




ARWEA_ThankyouMaamCreek.jpgThank You Ma'am Creek - Trip 2

Observe alligators, belted kingfishers, owls, anhingas, pileated woodpeckers in this narrow secluded blackwater creek. You will also discover masses of splendid wildflowers in the spring and fall.

[Route Map PDF]






ARWEA_CashCreek.jpgCash Creek - Trip 7

This wetlands creek is a good birding spot in the Spring and Fall. You can paddle around a hardwood hammock island, observe nesting raptors, and maybe catch dolphins playing in Cash Bayou. Watch early morning mists swirl over the wide open salt marsh vista where the creek opens into the bay at CR 65 bridge.

[Route Map PDF]


ARWEA_SandBeachLoop.jpgSand Beach Loop Trail - Trip 11

Paddle through a mosaic of habitats from a wide open salt marsh to a sinuous creek meandering through hardwood hammocks. This area is great for fishing and wildlife viewing. Be sure to time coordinate your paddle from the Sand Beach tower to Saltwater Creek with the rising tide.

[Route Map PDF]


Wilderness Paddling Tips

  • Review these 12 suggested routes – most are laid-back paddle trips.
  • Print the map for the paddling trip you plan to embark upon.
  • Allow plenty of time, keeping tides, currents and wind factors into account.
    • Plan on about 2 miles per hour of paddling under normal conditions. Leave overnight trips for more experienced paddlers.
  • Plan ahead: Check weather and tidal conditions (see “additional resources” below).
  • Three off-road bike racks are located at boat ramps. Shuttle your bicycle on Trips 1, 4, 8 and the shorter option on Trip 12.
  • Camping areas are primitive and seasonal. Some require that campers obtain a free camping reservation permit. Review FWC camping regulations beforehand.

Safety and Stewardship

The Apalachicola River WEA is a unique wilderness area. Please share this invaluable resource with fellow paddlers, anglers and hunters. Minimize your impact: pack trash out, limit campfires and extinguish fires completely when leaving a campsite.

 Safety First:

 Do not paddle alone.

  • File a float plan with departure information and arrival details
    (Let someone know your travel plans in case of emergency.)
  • Check tidal charts before setting out.
  • Carry flares or a light that flashes SOS.
  • Pack a weather radio and extra batteries.
  • Bring charts/maps, compass and a waterproof GPS.
  • Wear a PFD; attach a marine whistle.
  • Carry at least 1 gallon of water per person per day.
  • Wear sunglasses, hat, insect repellent, SPF 30 waterproof-sunscreen.
  • Don’t rely on cell phone coverage.

Wildlife Tips:

Keep wildlife wild – keep your distance. Learn more about wildlife interactions.

Be “bear wise” and do not feed or try to attract them.

  • Keep campsites and picnic areas clean.
  • Pack out all food and garbage.
  • Do not take pets on your paddling trip – for their safety and yours.
  • If you do encounter a bear:
    • Do not block its escape route.
    • Do not make direct eye contact.
    • Do make noise.
    • Back away slowly.
    • Do not run.

 Keep your eyes open for snakes in vegetation and at boat landings. Most snakes are harmless and not aggressive.

  • Don’t try to catch or corner a snake. Most bites occur when people handle snakes.
  • Walk with solid, firm steps; snakes will feel the vibrations and probably leave.
  • Learn to identify Florida’s six venomous snakes.
    • Review the Guide to Venomous Snakes of Florida
  • Get medical help immediately if bitten
    • Stay calm
    • Keep the bite lower than the heart.
    • Do not use ice.

 Share the water with alligators and give them the right-of-way when paddling.

  • Swim during daylight hours only.
  • Do not take pets camping or paddling.
  • Never feed alligators; do not leave food scraps or garbage out.
  • On narrow waterways, allow the gator time to sink deep.
    • If it appears threatening, back away and leave the area.
    • Do not approach nests or young alligators – parents are near.

Additional Resources

Report marine or wildlife violations dial *FWC or #FWC (*392 or #392) or call toll-free (888) 404-FWCC

 Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (850) 670-8500 or emergency 911

 Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce: (850) 653-9419 or apalachicolabay.org   

Local Tide and Current Predictions

NOAA Tide Predictions 

NOAA Weather Forecast 


FWC Facts:
The Wall Street Journal has ranked the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival of Brevard County as the third-best birding festival in the United States.

Learn More at AskFWC