Black Rock Trail

Black Rock Beach on Big Talbot Island

Black Rock Beach on Big Talbot Island

A barrier island on the Atlantic Coast between Amelia Island and Little Talbot Island, Big Talbot Island is best known for its unusual rocky shoreline called Blackrock Beach. One step on this beach, overlooking a sweep of dark rocks, saw palmetto on the bluffs, and the bleached bones of live oaks turned to giant driftwood along the shore, and you’d think you’re in Hawaii. Just offshore, tiny islands with bright white sand beckon. Because Blackrock Beach has free access off A1A, it’s one of the most popular spots at Big Talbot Island State Park, and provides a more remote look at the unusual erosion along the shoreline.


50 Hikes in North FloridaHiker's Guide to the Sunshine State


Location: Big Talbot Island
Length: 1 mile
Lat-Long: 30.49161,-81.44217
Type: round-trip
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: low
Restroom: Yes

Parking is limited and tends to be overcrowded on weekends at the pulloff, which is 1 mile south of the main entrance, on the left. It also serves as a trailhead for the paved Timucuan Trail, part of the East Coast Greenway.

Directions & Map

To get to Big Talbot Island State Park from Jacksonville, follow A1A north past the Mayport Ferry and out to Little Talbot Island. Pass the Little Talbot Island State Park entrance and continue north 3.2 miles to a small paved parking area, which adjoins the bike path.


Follow the bike path south briefly to find the entrance to the Black Rock Trail. Start your way up the wide trail, where sand live oaks provide plenty of shade and dense saw palmetto defines the corridor. If you see a flash of bright color in the trees, stop and look more closely, as this is a favorite habitat of the very colorful painted bunting.

Black Rock Trail Big Talbot

The walk to the overlook is nicely shaded

At the fork in the trail, keep right. At the half-mile mark, you emerge above the unexpected shoreline, the “rock” carved into potholes and bluffs and even tidal pools with stringers of seaweed. Ospreys wheel above; they raise their young in the taller trees.

Here’s the trick, however. The shoreline has eroded so greatly that there is no easy way to get down to it from here. People do, of course, by using tree roots, but there isn’t a staircase or rope or any other structure to help you get down to the beach – and more importantly, back up to the bluff. If you go back to the fork and take the other trail, it leads to another overlook over the beach, and we saw people making their way up and down the bluff here.

Black rock beach rocks

The “rocks” are actually compressed sand and decayed leaves from the bluffs

If you dare to scramble down, explore this unusual coastline by taking a wander to the left, heading north. Fallen, sun-bleached trees are everywhere. Carefully make your way over the uneven surface, which will change every time you visit. At low tide, you can walk up at least a half-mile in either direction, to the north up to the promontory visited from the main parking lot, to the south to bluffs falling into the sea.

Return on the Black Rock Trail to your car.


0.0start @ road
0.2turn left
0.3turn right
0.4curve and fork to right
0.5end @ beach
1.0return to road


  1. Jessica says

    This trail is open. I just went today (7/7/12) for the first time. Access to the beach from the trail is kinda difficult. There is a rope to help you get back onto the trail from the beach… but elderly friendly it is not. Also, please explore the black rocks WITH your children. They can be incredibly slippery.

  2. Chris says

    Just went 11/18/12. Does anyone know what is with all the .50 caliber rifle cartridges and 20 mm cartridges on the beach? Found about 8 also I found bullets for the .50 cal separate, found 3 of them. Looked them up and found out they are from WW2. Just wondering if anyone knew more about this.

  3. Nicole says

    I went to the northern most part of the beach on big talbot island. There is alot of beach errotion in spots but we just had to explore 2 different trails before we found a easy way down. In our group it was 2 adults and 2 kids (5 & 11). And we are not a athletic family. So most people can go. It was beautiful. And so peaceful I only saw 3 different groups of people in my whole afternoon. On the driftwood lives gross bugs that are reall fast so don’t sit without looking. Rocks are very slippery but we just took our time. I loved it so much I’m thinking of going back today.

  4. carol says

    We walked down to Boneyard Beach yesterday and headed north, then south to Black Rock Beach. We had to climb up the rocks onto the point. After searching the charred vegetation and not finding the trail, we then climbed back down and headed further south, trying to find the trail from the beach. Never found any trail or ladder to climb up at cliffs. So we headed back to Vineyard Beach via the beach. Would love to know where that trail comes out to. Beautiful walk- we saw two huge live conch shells and also crabs waving their claws at each other. An eagle was also flying around overhead for quite a while.

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