Sandy beaches tempting on every curve of the river. Trails for paddlers and hikers to enjoy. A perfect summer getaway for swimming in flowing fresh water.
Surrounded by public lands, Blackwater River State Park makes a perfect base camp to explore thousands of acres of state forest stretching to the Alabama border.
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Entrance: 30.711735, -86.878773
Address: 7720 Deaton Bridge Rd, Holt
Fees: $4 per vehicle
Restroom: At the day use areas
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset. Leashed pets welcome but not on beaches or swimming areas.
From Interstate 10 exit 31 (Milton / Navarre) drive north on SR 87 one mile to US 90. Turn right and continue 5.8 miles east to Deaton Bridge Rd in Holt. Turn left and drive 4.8 miles north to the main entrance of Blackwater River State Park. Turn right, pay your day use fee at the entrance station, and park in the day use parking area.
About the Park
Surrounded by Blackwater River State Forest, Blackwater River State Park is part of the “Canoe Capital of Florida” centered on nearby Milton.
A bevy of outfitters, including Blackwater Canoe Rental just south of the park, provide rentals, guided trips, and shuttles.
Of course, you can bring your own to launch and land along the many showy white sand beaches along the cedar-lined Blackwater River and its tributary Juniper Creek.
A boardwalk connects the campground with a broad white sand beach perfect for launching or landing.
Similarly, the Pavilion Boardwalk at the day use area provides access to picnic pavilions set into the riverfront forest, as well as a popular beach.
Along the boardwalk is Florida’s champion Atlantic white cedar tree. The boardwalk also provides access to a riverfront nature trail.
Two nature trails at Blackwater River State Park flank the river’s flow towards Deaton Bridge. On the south shore, Chain of Lakes Trail is a 1.5 mile loop.
Passing riverfront beaches, it also circles sloughs and marshes in oxbows cut off over time from the river’s ever-changing flow.
On the north shore, Juniper Lake Trail connects the day use area and campground with a string of showy white sand beaches along the river.
When not at river level, it’s largely atop low bluffs with nice views. A much shorter inner loop circles its namesake, an oxbow called Juniper Lake.
An official side trail of the Florida Trail, the blue-blazed Blackwater section runs right through this state park, using the pedestrian walkway of Deaton Bridge to cross the river.
South of Deaton Bridge, the Hutton section circles a steephead ravine and climbs a ridge where pitcher plants thrive along a seepage slope.
North of the bridge, the trail ambles through a riverside picnic area to become the Juniper Creek Trail, extending north 7.8 miles to Red Rock Bluffs.
Both trails extend from the state park into surrounding Blackwater River State Forest, providing challenging climbs, scenic views, and destination campsites for backpackers.
The deeply shaded campground makes for a pleasant place to pull in your trailer, RV, or camper van. It has two loops with a total of 30 sites.
A playground is along the Magnolia Loop. The bathhouse between the two loops was large and well-appointed.
Each site has electric (up to 50 amp) and potable water connections, RV sewer connections, and a picnic table and fire ring. Maximum RV size is 50 feet.
Sites are gravel, which was great for vehicles, not so wonderful for tent camping. We appreciated being able to use the Juniper Lake Trail as a shortcut to the main day use area.
A walk in the woods on the Chain of Lakes Trail
See our photos of Blackwater River State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.