Chipola River Wildlife Management Area
Chipola River Wildlife Management Area spans over 9,00 acres on two separate tracts located along the Chipola River in Jackson and Calhoun counties. The WMA provides valuable protection to water resources associated with the river, which flows from Marianna to the Apalachicola River.
The Jackson County tract lies four miles north of Marianna and shares its southern boundary with Florida Caverns State Park. This tract encompasses the upper watershed of the Chipola River, which includes its two main tributaries, Marshalls Creek and Cowarts Creek, and portions of the spring-runs of Hayes and Waddell Springs.
Access to this tract is almost exclusively by boat. A boat ramp is located at Christoff Landing. Parking and walk-in access is available along county-maintained roads at Cowarts Creek and Christoff Landing, as well as near the Highway 162 bridge. Additional hunting and recreation access to the southern portion of the area is through the state park via the Upper Chipola Recreational Trail. This multi-use trail offers six miles of hiking, horseback riding and off-road biking. Access is limited when river levels are high.
In Calhoun County, the Altha Tract is situated 16 miles south of Marianna. The area provides access to the river as well as unique family and youth hunting opportunities. A boat ramp is located at Johnny Boy Landing off of Highway 274. This popular landing may be crowded on the weekend with swimmers and tubers. While there are no formal trails on the Altha Tract, visitors may enter from the river or walk in from roads that border the property. Vehicles may drive on Johnny Boy landing Road and Look and Tremble Road, south of Highway 274.
Hunters find productive squirrel and deer hunting in the floodplain forests that border the creeks and the river. The type of hunts and permit requirements differ on the two tracts. For hunting seasons and area regulations, view FWC's regulations summary brochure for Chipola River WMA.
The river provides excellent fishing for bluegill, spotted sunfish and redear sunfish and is home to largemouth bass and the unique shoal bass. Catch-and-release is recommended for shoal bass. A Florida fishing license is required and can be purchased at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.
Camping is allowed only at designated campsites. A primitive campsite managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District is located immediately west of Christoff landing. A permit from the NWFWMD is required and camping is subject to permit provisions. To make a camping reservation, please visit the NFWMD's Recreation page.
Visitors enjoy hunting, fishing, boating, paddling, primitive camping and wildlife viewing. The Upper Chipola Recreational Trail system, accessed through Florida Caverns State Park, creates opportunities for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding on a portion of the WMA.
Enjoy a 4.5-mile paddling trip on the Upper Chipola River Paddling Trail, starting at Christoff Landing and ending at Florida Caverns State Park.
The 51-mile long Chipola River Paddling Trail begins in Marianna and continues south, passing through the Altha Tract. The river has numerous limestone shoals that may hinder navigation during low water conditions. Check water levels prior to departure at USGS Real-Time Water Data for Florida. For maps of the canoe trail and details on access points, check with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Greenways and Trails.
In the fall, the forests are ablaze with the foliage of Florida maple and basswood. The area is home to the rare Barbour's map turtle as well as to numerous alligators, egrets, herons, ospreys and songbirds.
Add your bird observations to the Chipola River WMA--Bellamy Bridge Trail ebird Hotspot.
For an area map, hunting seasons, permits, fees, rules regarding dogs and area regulations, view FWC's regulations summary brochure for Chipola River WMA.