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Apalachicola National Forest

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Florida Panhandle : Middle Florida : Apalachicola National Forest
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Apalachicola National Forest is in Florida in the United States.

Understand

Location of Apalachicola National Forest in Florida
Cypress trees in 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.

History

Landscape

Flora and fauna

  • Alligators are present in this forest. They are an important part of Florida’s ecology and may be found wherever there is a body of water. They have a natural fear of man, but may lose that fear by being around people especially if they are fed. When this happens alligators can be dangerous. For this reason alligators should not be fed or molested in any way.

Climate

Get in

Fees/Permits

Get around

See

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.

A map of all the recreation areas in Apalachicola National Forest can be downloaded (PDF format) here.

Camel Lake Recreation Area

Camel Lake Recreation Area in Liberty County has a designated swim area with a white sand beach on a beautiful lake. A nearby bathhouse includes flush toilets. Outdoor (cold water only) showers for rinsing off are provided. Picnic tables and grills are scattered among trees with views of the lake. One medium sized shelter is provided on a first come basis. A water fountain and some water spigots are available. The site is fairly level and easily accessible to people in wheelchairs. A small boat ramp is available. Motorized boat use is limited to electric trolling motors. Three trails are nearby: the Florida National Scenic Trail, the Trail of Lakes, and the Camel Lake Interpretive Trail. A volunteer host lives on site. Camping is also available here. Day Use Fee: $3.00 per vehicle per day.

Fort Gadsden Historical Site

Fort Gadsden in Franklin County is the site of an historic fort and several battles. Interpretive exhibits and artifacts are displayed along a level pathway on the banks of the Apalachicola River. Picnic tables, drinking water and vault toilets are available. This area is also accessible by boat. No Fee.

Leon Sinks Geological Area

Leon Sinks in Leon County is a designated Geological Area featuring interpretive signs and views of sinkholes from a system of boardwalks and trails. Picnic tables, a kiosk, a water fountain, and a restroom with flush toilets are available. The sinks at Leon Sinks are unique, fragile areas with very steep sides. Both humans and dogs have drowned in the sinks. To protect you and the sinks, a number of uses are prohibited at Leon Sinks: swimming, diving, motor vehicles (except in the parking area), hunting, mountain biking, horseback riding, and ATV and motorcycle riding. Day Use Fee: $3.00 per vehicle per day.

Lost Lake Recreation Area

Lost Lake in Leon County offers picnicking by a small lake. Restrooms and drinking water are not provided at this location. The lake and beach are no longer maintained for swimming. No Fee.

Silver Lake Recreation Area

Silver Lake in Leon County has a designated swim area with a white sand beach on a beautiful lake. A nearby bathhouse includes flush toilets and hot showers. Picnic tables and grills are scattered among trees with views of the lake. Three picnic shelters are available on a first come basis. One shelter is an historic CCC constructed shelter. Water fountains are available. The site is fairly level and easily accessible to people in wheelchairs. A small boat ramp is available. Motorized boat use is limited to electric trolling motors. A one-mile interpretive trail winds around the lake. A volunteer host lives on site. No Camping. Day Use Fee: $3.00 per vehicle per day.

Wright Lake Recreation Area

Wright Lake in Franklin County has a designated swim area with a small white sand beach on a beautiful lake. A nearby bathhouse includes flush toilets and hot showers. Picnic tables and grills are scattered among trees with views of the lake. A water fountain is available. The site is fairly level and easily accessible to people in wheelchairs. A 5-mile interpretive trail winds around the lake. A volunteer host lives on site. Camping is also available here. Fee: $3.00 per vehicle per day.

Do

Bicycling

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.

Hiking

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.

Horseback Riding

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.

Buy

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Lodging

There are no hotels or motels within Apalachicole National Forest. Try the nearby cities of Apalachicola or Tallahassee if you need traditional lodging.

Camping

Camping can be enjoyed during all seasons on the Apalachicola National Forest, although summer camping would be without air conditioning. None of the campgrounds have hook ups and generators may not be run after 10pm. Be aware that at certain times of the year, due to high fire danger, open fires may not allowed. Visitors may stay a maximum of 14 days within a 30-day period, in one location, except during hunting season. Campsites are available on a first come basis; there are no reservations. Pets are allowed, but must be restrained or on a leash.

The Apalachicola National Forest has developed and dispersed camping opportunities. Only developed campgrounds have fees. There are no group campgrounds or cabins on the Apalachicola National Forest.

There are five designated campgrounds (fee areas)

Camel Lake Recreation Area Campground

Camel Lake in Liberty County has 10 campsites with views of Camel Lake. Each campsite has a picnic table, a grill, and a fire ring. Drinking water is available. The bathhouse includes flush toilets and hot showers. Camel Lake is fairly level and easily accessible to people in wheelchairs. A volunteer host lives on site. Picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities are also available here. No alcohol is allowed on site. Fee: $8.00 per campsite per night.

Hickory Landing Boat Ramp & Hunt Campground

Hickory Landing in Franklin County has 12 campsites. Each campsite has a picnic table with a grill or fire ring. Drinking water is available. Vault toilets are provided. A volunteer host lives on site. A concrete boat ramp is available. Fee: $3.00 per vehicle per day.

Mack Landing Boat Ramp & Hunt Campground

Mack Landing in Wakulla County has 10 campsites. Each campsite has a picnic table with a grill or fire ring. Drinking water is available. Vault toilets are provided. A concrete boat ramp is available. Fee: $3.00 per vehicle per day.

Whitehead Landing Boat Ramp & Hunt Campground

Whitehead Landing in Liberty County has 6 campsites. Each campsite has a picnic table with a grill or fire ring. Drinking water is available. Vault toilets are provided. A concrete boat ramp is available. Fee: $3.00 per vehicle per day.

Wright Lake Recreation Area Campground

Wright Lake in Franklin County has 20 campsites. Each campsite has a picnic table, a grill, and a fire ring. Drinking water is available. The bathhouse includes flush toilets and hot showers. A dump station for RVs is available. Wright Lake is fairly level and easily accessible to people in wheelchairs. A volunteer host lives on site. Picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities are also available here. No alcohol is allowed on site. Fee: $8.00 per campsite per night.

Backcountry

Except during general gun hunting season (usually mid-November through mid-February), you may camp anywhere on the Forest (outside of developed recreation areas) for a maximum of 14 days within a 30-day period, in one location. Remember to remove all garbage and trash, leave vegetation intact, and preserve water systems. Please make every effort to maintain the natural state of the area and protect it from overuse.

Stay safe

Get out

See also




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