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.
Location: Big Talbot Island
Length: 1 mile
Lat-Long: 30.502639, -81.450039
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: low
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
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 3.1 miles to Blackrock Beach, on the right. There is a small parking area.
Park and 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—this is a favorite habitat of the very colorful painted bunting.
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. 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 Blackrock Trail to your car.
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