Apalachicola National Forest
The Apalachicola National Forest is the largest U.S. National Forest in Florida. It has 564,961 acres (882.8 sq mi/2,286.3 km²) and is located in the Florida Panhandle.
The Apalachicola National Forest is located within 6 watersheds: Apalachicola River, New River, Ochlockonee, Sopchoppy, Lost Creek and Wakulla River. These rivers and streams provide a steady freshwater flow to productive coastal bays or estuaries. Apalachicola Bay and Ochlockonee Bay are known for shellfish & other commercial seafood. The Apalachicola National Forest is about 4 miles southwest of Tallahassee.
Flora and fauna
The Apalachicola National Forest has six day use areas, four of which are fee areas. Each fee area is a self-service fee area (exact change required or checks made out to USDA Forest Service are accepted). The fee is $3.00 per vehicle. An annual pass for $40 may be purchased, which covers all day use fee areas on the Apalachicola National Forest. No alcoholic beverages are allowed in any of these areas. Abundant wildlife may be seen in each area, including birds and alligators. All day use areas are open from 8am to 8pm from May to September and from 8am to 6pm from October to April. The annual pass is also valid for day use and camping at Hickory Landing, Mack Landing and Whitehead Lake.
Bicycles are welcome on public roads in the Forest, on designated motorized trails and on the designated mountain bike trail at Munson Hills in Leon County. The public roads are fairly level, but may be deep sand. Public parking for Munson Hills Trail is available at the St. Marks Bicycle Trailhead on Woodville Highway, just south of Capital Circle. The mountain bike trail is on sandy soil with gently rolling slopes through narrow pine trees. The trail is marked by blue blazes and divided into two loops: an 8-mile loop and a 5-mile loop. A bike rack, water fountain, and restrooms are available near the trail entrance.
The Apalachicola National Forest has approximately 85 miles of designated hiking trails, although hikers are welcome anywhere in the Forest. Pets are allowed, but must be restrained or on a leash.
The Apalachicola National Forest offers six interpretive trails: Camel Lake (1 mile), Fort Gadsden (1/2 mile), Leon Sinks (5 miles), Silver Lake (1 mile), Trail of Lakes (9 miles), and Wright Lake (5 miles). Camel Lake in Liberty County is marked with blue blazes and is one loop. Fort Gadsden in Franklin County is marked with blue blazes and is one loop. Leon Sinks in Leon County has two loops and has blue, green, and white blazes on different sections. Silver Lake in Leon County is marked with blue blazes and is a single loop. The Trail of Lakes in Liberty County is marked with blue blazes and is a single loop. Wright Lake in Franklin County is marked with blue and white blazes on different sections, but is a single loop. Fee: Applicable if parking in a developed recreation (fee) area.
The Apalachicola National Forest has one designated horse trail in Leon County, although horse riders are welcome almost anywhere in the Forest (including on public roads). Horses are not allowed on the Florida National Scenic Trail (hiking only) or in developed recreation areas. There are few designated trailheads, so many individuals choose to park alongside a Forest road near where they want to ride. As long as vehicles do not obstruct traffic or destroy natural resources, this is permitted. Camping with horses in the general Forest area is allowed. Horses are also allowed in the primitive hunt camps (no amenities), although cleaning up after the horses is expected and appreciated.
The Vinzant Horse Trail in Leon County, is the only designated horse trail on the Forest. The trail has 2 loops (which overlap): an 11-mile loop and a 23-mile loop. The trail is marked with white, blue, and yellow blazes on different sections. The trailhead (a mowed field with no amenities) is located near the intersection of Forest Road 342 and State Route 267.