The following description is courtesy of Donald Kelly.
The Chipola River rises in Alabama near Dothan, runs through Marianna, Florida, and joins the Apalachicola River near Wewahitchka, Florida. At low water levels, a small rapid appears about 0.8 miles south of County Road 274, southwest of Altha, in Calhoun County, Florida. A USGS gauge is located at CR 274. No evidence of the rapid exists much above 9.5', with this rapid not of much interest until the river drops below 9.25'. No lower limit has been observed; even during the most severe summer droughts; the Chipola runs when other North Florida rivers have stopped flowing.
This a very small rapid that would escape notice on a substantive whitewater river. Nonetheless, it is one of the few rapids in Florida with sufficient flow and structure to provide a paddler with enough to work with. The main channel of water through the rapid is near river left and provides some small surfable waves and a sharp river-left eddy. Squirt moves are sometimes possible on the eddy line below the rapid.
On the west side of the CR 274 bridge, you will find the entrance to a small dirt road that parallels the river to the rapid and slightly beyond, permitting park and play. Alternatively, the rapid is the preferred take-out for a downriver trip from CR 278, a trip of about 8 miles. (At low water levels, the downriver trip includes several minor shoals.)
In the summer crowds of nonboaters show up at the rapids for swimming, fishing, tubing and other good times. The crowds can be a bit boisterous, but there've been no real problems yet, and a Sheriff's deputy will drive by every hour or so. Because of the potential crowding and the limited parking, boaters should arrive early.
The access road leading from CR 274 to the rapids has been blocked by debris from Hurricane Michael, the center of which passed within a few miles of this location on October 10, 2018.
Tell us about this gauge by leaving a comment.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Directions for a downriver trip:
I-10 to exit 142, the eastern Marianna exit. Turn south on State Road 71.
At about 6.8 miles south of I-10, turn west onto CR 278. Be alert as this turn is easy to drive past.
At about 0.4 miles, look for the sign for the boat ramp and the access road veering to the left. This will lead to the put-in.
To drive to the take-out, go back to SR 71 and turn south.
At about 4.3 miles, in the small town of Altha, turn west on to CR 274. This is the second blinking yellow light in Altha and is just past the small Town Hall.
The river will be reached at about 3.8 miles. Cross the bridge and turn south onto the dirt road paralleling the river. The rapids and unpaved parking will be near the end of the road, at about 0.8 miles.
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!