** 6/19/17 EMERGENCY UPDATE: the dike south of S-65A lock in the Kissimmee section has been breached just south of the lock. Hikers should avoid the Florida Trail south of the lock and north of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park ranger station until further notice. **
As a service to our readers, we do our best to keep on top of changes to the Florida Trail and its services as they happen. The following trail updates are keyed to the pages of the current edition of The Florida Trail Guide. If you own a first edition, we encourage you to get a second edition since there have been many major trail relocations over the past few years.
Our updates come from a variety of sources, including hikers on the trail, trail maintainers, government agencies, business owners, and from the Florida Trail Association. And, of course, we research changes to the trail and its services ourselves on a regular basis. We send a collection of updates out in a newsletter, no more than once a month. Even if you’ve never bought our guidebook, you’re welcome to sign up for that newsletter here. If you have bought a guidebook, we add you to the mailing list automatically.
NOTE: All of the updates listed below are in the current version of The Florida Trail Guide App. If your app does not show you the major trail relocations listed below, go into Settings, make sure you’re logged into the app as an app user, and click on “Reload Trail Files” to get the most updated version of the waypoints and the trails.
Updates to The Florida Trail Guide, Second Edition
IMPORTANT: Did you ship maildrops or are you planning to? See our details about zip code errors below. If you’ve purchased a SECOND PRINTING version of the Second Edition (check the top of the title page with the table of contents on it), the zip code errors have been fixed in that printing.
Water levels are lower than normal in Big Cypress for winter, so hikers are reporting some difficulty in finding water south of 10 Mile Camp. Be sure you know a cypress dome when you see one, since it may be your only source of water. Prescribed burns by the National Park Service have burned off blazes between 10 Mile and Oak Hill campsites. An FTA trail crew will be out there repainting blazes and doing related maintenance over the first week of February 2017.
A reminder that Billie Swamp Safari can only accept maildrops via UPS or FedEx. The address in the book is their street address along Josie Billie Highway. They request that packages be shipped to: Billie Swamp Safari, 30000 Gator Tail Trail, Clewiston FL 33440. Call ahead to arrange.
p.33 data chart: Thanks to Rambler for contacting us about a mileage error between STA-5 (mile 64.8) and Lake Harbor (mile 92.9). We based this edition’s mileage on the Florida Trail app, and we based mileage calculations in the app on something called anchor points. We put the wrong mile marker on an anchor point: the first CR 835 crossing. It should be at mile 77.9 (currently mile 83.9). This affects this piece of the data sheet on page 33, and caused a ripple effect of errors in these mileages referenced in the text, as the calculations tried to compensate for that extra mileage in the wrong place. Use this data as a replacement.
|30.3||67.7||1034.1||Junction of dike roads. Continue N|
|37.4||74.8||1027.0||Farm compound to E|
|39.1||76.5||1025.3||Bridge to W. Dike Rd to NE. Stay on levee|
|40.5||77.9||1023.9||CR 835 at wayside park|
|42.0||79.4||1022.4||Tenting under palm trees. Water from canal -0.6|
|43.5||80.9||1020.9||L-1E canal. Follow 90* turn in dike.|
|45.2||82.6||1019.2||Follow 90* turn in dike. Possible tenting E|
|46.2||83.6||1018.2||CR 835 crossing|
|46.8||84.2||1017.6||Cross L1-E canal bridge to N. Follow canal E|
|52.0||89.4||1012.4||Miami Canal Rd. Follow N|
|56.6||92.3||1009.5||LAKE HARBOR PO 9-10 M-F|
|56.7||92.4||1009.4||Cross US 27. High-speed traffic|
|56.8||92.5||1009.5||John Stretch Park|
Making this section 1.1 miles longer, adding 1.1 miles to the overall mileage.
p35, mile 46.6: Big Cypress Campground has a laundry.
p35, mile 47.0: Suds Laundry has closed.
p35, mile 47.7: Osceola Pizza and Games has closed.
p.33, mile 64.8. STA-5 has been renamed STA-5/6. Picnic benches have been added to the pavilion at the trailhead. The trailhead and restroom are 0.4E of the trail crossing. A sign states that the trailhead and facilities are closed Tue, Wed, & Thurs.
Should you go east or west around Lake Okeechobee? Here’s a full discussion of the options for 2017.
p.42, mile 102.8: Although the Army Corps of Engineers has now declared the section of trail between Levee Park and Uncle Joe’s closed for construction, according to the Okeechobee News, they have provided a not-so-scenic walkway to get past the construction zone for the time being.
p.43, mile 116.3: Some hikers had success getting a room in Moore Haven at Rice’s Motel, which we dropped from the guidebook because they are small and usually have long term residents. If you can get someone on the phone, you might be able to get a room too. If not, don’t count on it. The motel is under the big bridge, right on the FT route. And it’s not for everyone. Phone: 863-946-0424
p47, mile 130.7. In Lakeport, there is a restaurant/bar, Cheers, behind Duck’s Pub, and a fresh produce stand across the street.
p48, mile 149.0. It is no longer possible to park at Okee-tantie south of SR 78. Use Scott Driver Park on the north side of SR 78, instead. The county-owned public campground and marina at Okee-tantie Recreation Area has been turned over to a private developer, Guy Harvey Outpost, to create an RV resort with 60 cabins, a waterfront lodge with pool, marina, tiki bar, and new restaurant. The first phase of the project will open spring 2017.
Lightsey’s Seafood has closed at Okee-tantie, as their lease ran out in July. They’ve opened a new restaurant in Okeechobee at 1506 SW Parrot Ave, and are open 11-9.
Trail angel Doug McCoy’s phone number has changed. It is now 863-634-4482.
p.54, mile 98.2: Section leader Roy Moore shares the following October 2016 update:
With a very short detour you can actually walk on the dike all the way from Canal Point through Pahokee and on to the South Bay RV park. This section is not officially open as the Corps of Engrs is still working on one structure and the only official access to the dike is through their work area. Here’s a cut from Google on the route:
The detour south of the construction work area is partly on private property and the manager, “Billy” would appreciate a call at 561-996-4127 just to verify that you will be walking through as a trail hiker. We don’t as yet have an official blazed bypass by will probably be doing one in the next month or so.
Current Army Corps of Engineers closures for Okeechobee East and Okeechobee West can be viewed here. You can see the heavy number of closures on the south side of the lake, impacting the trail. “The Corps does not anticipate opening some of these sections until 2020.”
p.61, mile 165.5: Relocation through Yates Marsh north of this point adds a new campsite, Yates Marsh North, along the trail closer to the trailhead. This is the campsite used by hunters during hunting seasons. The FT app does not yet reflect the Yates Marsh relocation. Follow blazes.
p.62, mile 149.2: The construction zone north of Scott Driver Park blocks access to the segment of the Florida Trail between Okee-tantie and SR 70, a royal pain for thru-hikers. Word is that construction may continue for a year. The only option around the closure is to roadwalk through Okeechobee back to the trail crossing on SR 70 west of Okeechobee (route shown in the Florida Trail app). Or contact Doug McCoy about a ride around the closure; his info is on page 49.
p.63, mile 177.4: Work is progressing on rerouting the trail into public lands north of US 98 and west of Basinger, but the trail segment is not open yet. Watch for signs and/or blazing changes during hiking season in case volunteers are able to complete this relocation to remove the trail off Micco Bluff Road.
p.66, mile 187.7: No more climbing over the rusty gate. The trail now goes up the road to the trailhead and through a pass-through gate before looping back up to the road to the campsite. No more climbing over that rusty gate. Bonus: a portable toilet is in place at the trailhead.
p.66, mile 188.7: Starvation Slough can no longer be considered as a reliable water source as it dried out this fall.
p.69, mile 200.9: The boardwalk in over Duck Slough in the hammock has been repaired.
p.70, mile 200.6: Hammock campsite, adjoining Duck Slough in the southern part of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, has been removed.
p.69, mile 201.8: A new campsite is being established in Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park just north of this junction in the hammock to the east. It replaces the closed Hammock Campsite. $5 per night fee payable at the ranger station.
p.71: EMERGENCY CLOSURE north of Kissimmee Prairie ranger station and south of the S-65A lock due to a breached dike. Reported 6/19/17
p.71, mile 213.7. According to thru-hiker Sycamore, the north end of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve can flood badly. Call the park about conditions if it’s rained a lot recently.
p.71, mile 215.2 (estimated): The long-awaited Pine Island Slough campsite is a new designated campsite at the north end of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. A $5 per person fee, payable at the ranger station, applies for use. The campsite has two sturdy benches and a fire ring.
p.71, mile 220.5: Blazing to the Camp Hammock campsite has vanished, and no one has done trail maintenance along the old FT route to Tick Island Slough in some time. If you try to find it – and we no longer recommend that you do – what’s left of the trail to Camp Hammock and Tick Island Slough is locked behind the Tick Island Cypress #7 gate.
p.71, mile 225.1: Exactly 2 miles north of Rattlesnake Hammock trailhead, we found a good access point to the Kissimmee River for filtering water. Look for a cut in the canal berm to the right just before KICCO Grade Rd makes a 90* turn west. Another 1.2 miles north of this spot is an unreported trail relocation out of the woods and onto KICCO Grade Rd. Watch for the blazes to the west that take you back into the woods north of the work shed area.
p.73, mile 231.2: You won’t miss the giant teepees that have sprouted along the Florida Trail in River Ranch. Called Takoda Village, they are a new part of the upscale “glamping” at River Ranch.
p.73, mile 232.7: A major relocation of the Florida Trail gets it off River Ranch Rd and SR 60 for several miles and puts it along fencelines and levees overlooking the Kissimmee River floodplain. No camping, but water access and excellent views. You now pop out on SR 60 right next to the Kissimmee River highway bridge, which removes 1.2 miles of the most dangerous roadwalk in Florida. However, Grape Hammock Fish Camp is now an additional 1.2 miles from the FT via that old roadwalk (now 2.9W).
p.73, mile 233.3: Packingham trailhead no longer has direct access to the Florida Trail. You can park here and walk back up River Ranch Rd to the new trail stile, 0.6 mile south. You can also still use the Packingham campsite (free permit required).
p.74, mile 231.1: Hikers report that River Ranch has raised their rates from the initial $25 for tent camping last year. They are now charging $48 for a campsite per their website (+12% tax). A free option is to head up the road to the Packingham campsite (hunter’s campsite) at Packingham trailhead, about a half mile past where the trail turns off River Ranch Rd. Be sure you’ve pulled a free permit for it before using.
p.74, mile 242.2: A pitcher pump is the water source at Three Lakes hunt camp and needs to be primed. There is a privy and covered kiosk on site as well. It can be reached via an unmarked but obvious side trail from the FT north of a large tree along the fenceline. The side trail goes in a straight line west to the parking area and facilities described above.
p.75, mile 246.4: Hikers report a funky gasoline-type smell from water from the pitcher pump at Godwin Hammock. You may be better off with water from Fodderstack Slough. If you use the pump be sure to prime it and leave priming water for others.
p.75, mile 253.7: Problems reported with the new pitcher pump at Dry Pond. Priming these pumps is a must.
p.75, mile 255.2: Parker Hammock campsite now has a pitcher pump.
p.80, mile 263.3: The trail has been relocated between Three Lakes campsite and US 441. Follow the blazes. The FT app does not yet reflect the Three Lakes North relocation.
p.81, mile 270.3: A blue-blazed trail now connects the parking area inside Forever Florida at the Cypress Restaurant with the Florida Trail.
p.81, mile 278.7: The new pitcher pump at Little Scrub has been destroyed by someone running a rollerchopper for FWC. Use the lake as your alternate water source. Plans are to relocate the campsite.
p.84, mile 289.2: The pitcher pump at Jane Green was replaced and already has failed. Plans are to relocate the campsite.
NEW: DESERET ROADWALK ALERT
Deseret Ranch is now spreading biosolids on their property; we’d seen some trucks carrying some into the ranch this fall but now there are signs up along Nova Road. What does this mean? Cox Creek and Taylor Creek, both critical water sources for the roadwalk, may be tainted with not just agricultural runoff but also sewage sludge. Section hikers, cache water in this section. If you’re thru-hiking, search either the Florida Hiking Syndicate or the Florida Trail Class of 2017 Facebook groups for the word “cache” to see if any trail angels have placed water along the section.
p.85, mile 321.5: Even in times of low water, there is some water at Jim Creek. Approach from the right-hand side as you are headed south on Fish Hole Rd, and be sure to watch those culverts in case of alligators.
p.85, mile 322.6: Tiger Creek campsite now has a pitcher pump. It must be primed. Be sure to leave some water in the jugs provided for the next person to prime it. The old privy has been removed but not replaced.
p.89, mile 332.5: B&T Taxi is no longer operating.
p.90, mile 333.3: Fishhawk campsite is Fishhawk Pond campsite, but it is not next to the pond. You need to walk compass west on the grassy road just south of the picnic table shelter in order to get to the pond for water. There are shaded campsites by the shelter.
p.90, mile 334.9 side trail: The former pitcher pump at Seminole Ranch hunt check station has been replaced with a sink with non-potable water.
p.90, mile 334.9 side trail: Orlando Wetlands Park is now open year round. A potable water bottle-filling tap is available at the restrooms at Orlando Wetlands Park.
p.90, mile 337.1: Orlando Wetlands Park is now open year round.
p.91, mile 343.3: There are no longer any logs as seats at Joshua Creek campsite.
p.93, OVIEDO: Popeye’s chicken has been demolished for road widening. Oviedo’s famous chickens still roam the shopping center, however.
p.97, mile 369.1: New Dunkin Donuts adjoins Villagio strip mall.
p.103, mile 398.7: The trail has been permanently relocated through part of Royal Trails due to ongoing development near Bamboo Ave. Watch for signs and new blazes.
p.110, mile 406.7: A new state historic marker has been placed at the Clearwater Lake trailhead. It was dedicated on October 30, 2016, 50 years to the day after the first blazes of the Florida Trail were painted in this vicinity.
p.111, ASTOR: Astor Family Market is back to its original name (in the book it’s labeled Hitchcock’s Market).
p.115, mile 445.2: Hopkins Prairie campground now charges $10 to camp (self-pay iron ranger). The pitcher pump is working again but water is non-potable and must be filtered.
p.115, SALT SPRINGS: Papa Joey’s burgers and the Sunoco Food Mart are the closest places for food / resupply when you enter Salt Springs on the blue blaze. Papa Joey’s is not on the map but is just south of the Sunoco. Buck N Bass in Salt Springs is under new ownership and looking forward to helping hikers in the Ocala National Forest. Call ahead if you have any specific gear needs. They carry our guidebook.
p.117, mile 459.3: The 88 Store has added a freezer with ice cream treats plus frozen pizza, burgers, and sandwiches you can microwave on the spot.
p.117, mile 465.6: Problems reported with the water pump for potable water at Lake Delancy. Water is being trucked in.
While canvassing the Western Corridor in February 2016 for app updates, we found blazing issues in Croom that will get you lost by following the orange blazes, and a minor reroute of the trail through Perry Oldenburg. Both are addressed in the new edition of the app. Also, we’ve discovered that the Western Corridor is not dog-friendly for section or thru-hikers. There has always been a “No Dogs” policy at Green Swamp West, but now there are three more land units that don’t allow dogs, according to their signage: Perry Oldenburg, Chinsegut WEA, and Whispering Pines Park.
p.128, mile 318.7: There is a new traffic circle at the intersection of Deen Still Rd and SR 33, with crosswalks
p.131, mile 341.6: A trailside prairie pond makes an easier-to-reach water source than Gator Hole when headed northbound.
p.135, mile 357.7: Hikers have reported dangerous flooding along Devil’s Creek (boundary between Richloam and Green Swamp West), deep enough so that they had to swim with their backpacks on.
p. 131, mile 359.1: Devil’s Creek campsite has been renamed South campsite. No nearby water.
p. 137, mile 370.7: In Croom, at the first junction with the River Trail, there were orange blazes in three directions at the junction. Bear right (east) to stay on the thru-trail. If blazing has not been updated, you may hit this problem again north of Crooked River Campground at the north (second) junction for the Cypress Glen Trail, which is at a bench. Here, continue straight ahead northbound (compass west). The FT has been rerouted away from Silver Lake Campground out to the Withlacoochee State Trail to bypass the campground entirely. You can still access services (and the trailhead) at the campground via the old trail (still blazed orange in February) or via the entrance road for the campground. The FT now parallels the Withlacoochee State Trail beneath I-75 and re-enters the woods to the west 1.9 miles north of the Cypress Glen junction at the crossover of the Silver Lake Loop (mile 378.2). We were told that this relocation was requested by the land manager.
p.137, mile 387.5: Perry Oldenburg is now orange blazed between Willow Street and the Perry Oldenburg Nature Trail. When you reach the junction with the blue blazed nature trail, turn right (west) to continue to the preserve’s trailhead.
p.139, mile 366.5: Southern Harmony Cafe now open in Ridge Manor adjoining the motel.
p.142, mile 390.3: Overnight guests are welcome anytime at Chinsegut Hill Retreat [28.618825, -82.364715]. It’s located to the west of Chinsegut WEA atop the highest hill in the region, with spectacular views and a historic manor house to tour. Rates $70 per room, 2 people per room, inside a multi-room cottage. Call 352-799-5400 in advance to arrange your stay.
p.142, mile 392.1: Good news! Chinsegut WEA is now officially part of the Florida Trail. No camping permitted, however, and dogs are not permitted. Do not plan on their well at the Environmental Center working; you can filter water from May’s Prairie at the bird blind turnoff after that long dry stretch.
p.144, mile 415.9: Dogs are not permitted in Whispering Pines Park.
p.145, HERNANDO: Franks Family Restaurant has closed. There is a new burger place across from Ace Hardware.
p.150-1, DUNNELLON: New Bubbaques BBQ in plaza with Dollar General. Angler’s Resort Motel has been demolished and rebuilt anew. A new and very nice Comfort Suites has opened within sight of Walmart, with laundry facilities. It’s behind Sonic and Walgreens. 20052 Brooks St, Dunnellon, 352-533-5234
p.152, mile 440.7: Watch out for construction equipment and potential temporary closure of the Pruitt trailhead / FT due to construction of the Sabal Pipeline right across the Florida Trail on the Cross Florida Greenway near the trailhead.
p153, mile 446.7 OCALA WEST: There is a new convenience store and restaurant at the corner of SR 200 & SR 484: Hickory Creek Bar & Grill
p.161, data: slight relocation to trail route north of Sharpes Ferry Rd.
p.163: BP Food Mart at Nuby’s Corner now a Marathon. Bubbaques BBQ has closed.
p. 164, mile 498: The 88 Store has added a freezer with ice cream treats plus frozen pizza, burgers, and sandwiches you can microwave on the spot.
p.165, mile 479.0: Restrooms at St. Johns North permanently closed, but spigot still works.
p.167: A new trail relocation between mile 485.1 and mile 487.1 north and south of SR 20 affects the location of the SR 20 crossing. There are now gates in the DOT wildlife fences on both sides of SR 20 so hikers can pass through.
p.175, mile 504.4: The Fieldhouse Rd trailhead restrooms are closed indefinitely because of vandalism.
p.178, mile 519.2: There is now a cold water station at the ranger station. Fill up!
p.179, KEYSTONE HEIGHTS: Village Doctors Emergency Care is now available in downtown Keystone Heights. 100 S Lawrence Blvd. 352-473-9373
p.183, mile 532.4: There is a new designated campsite, Cow Creek, available to hikers on the Combass Tract just north of Keystone Heights before you reach the unpaved Palatka-Lake Butler Trail segment stretching towards Hampton. It’s a beauty spot overlooking a wetland and cow pasture. Best to carry water in from the convenience store at SR 100, as water sources near the campsite are tainted with cattle runoff.
p.186, mile 564.7: There is a new volunteer fire station at the corner of Clark Saw Shop Rd and SR 100. It makes a good parking spot for accessing the south end of Lake Butler Forest.
p.186-187: We assessed the new Lake Butler Forest section because of thru-hiker comments about how bad it was. And it is. Most of the trail is blazed within sight of forest roads that make for easier walking. Use the roads. Most of the roads have no road signs. There is a trestle over Olustee Creek that is in good shape for pedestrians. We’ve just gotten word of barbed wire buried IN the trail near the north end of the segment, north of the powerlines. Keep safe: walk the roads. For a full walk-through of what to do along the route, especially at the north end, please see our slideshow on Youtube.
p.187, mile 572.2: Olustee Creek campsite is actually at mile 571.8, at the west end of the trestle. It pre-dates the trail and was built for hunters, not hikers, as there are dog pens there for deer hunters. Space for 2 or 3 tents.
p.187, mile 574.5: After you exit the gate from Lake Butler Forest, DO NOT follow the orange blazes. They lead you into a swamp, a stream, and a very deep ditch. Instead, walk north up the broad forest road (County Line Rd) and turn right onto the next forest road you encounter. You’ll see the blazes resume at a signpost right at the deep ditch. Blazing is sporadic through Osceola Experimental Forest but is at every turn, and the trail remains on forest roads for the next several miles.
p.190, mile 586.3: Mother Goose (FT Class of 2001) is a camp host at Ocean Pond along with her husband Jim. His phone # is posted at the Fastway in Olustee should you need assistance. Otherwise, just walk in and visit, they’re in the first space closest to the vehicle entrance.
p.198: The Citgo (formerly Stormant’s Grocery) in White Springs has closed, sadly – that’s what a new Dollar General seems to do to our small towns. There is still an S&S Food Store (which we missed putting in the book) across from Fat Belly’s as well as Munchies Food Store down by the gate to Stephen Foster.
p.199 mile 619.9:Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park charges $5 per night for overnight parking.
p.201, mile 632.7: The shortcut to Camp Branch trailhead is well-marked with white blazes. Photo on p.206 is of No Name Creek, not Crooked Branch.
p.203, mile 626.7: The new Swift Creek Bridge is open! However, Roosters Outfitters / Angie’s Moonshine Campground at the end of the blue blaze has closed, so don’t take the side trail.
p.207, mile 648.7: It is possible to drive to Holton River Camp, where there is a small day use parking area (do not block the gate) if you follow the rugged gravel road through Holton Creek WMA to its end. There are times when the road may not be passable by passenger vehicles. A blazed trail leads from the parking area to the Guardian Cypress, Florida’s co-champion bald cypress (replacing The Senator). It sprouts from the bottom of a deep, often water-filled, sinkhole. We’ve included an unmarked but efficient route to find this majestic and ancient tree from the Florida Trail as a blue side trail in the new edition of the app. Thanks to Pete “Seeks It” Wetzel for leading us to this natural wonder.
p.209, mile 661.2: You can no longer approach the Natural Bridges (known locally as Five Holes) for photos, they’ve been fenced off.
p.209, mile 661.5: It is still not on the Florida Trail, but hikers will appreciate that the Big Oak Trail is accessible again, with all trails re-blazed. You can reach it via a blue blaze down SW 46th Ave. For day hiking, park at the boat ramp; the local maintainer suggested not leaving cars there overnight. The backpacking campsite is still there. See map and hiking details. NOTE: Construction of the Sabal Pipeline may affect access.
p.209 mile 664: Report of vandalism to cars parked at the Withlacoochee River parking area off CR 141.
p.209-211, mile 665.4 to mile 666.1. A new trail relocation between Withlacoochee River campsite and Coopers Bluff utilizes an old underpass to get under the active railroad line and passes under the Old US 90 and US 90 bridges instead of having you cross all three obstacles. The relocation now takes you close to Suwannacoochee Spring, a cool place to cool off, and shows off more of the Ellaville ghost town ruins. To get to trail services, simply access the Old US 90 bridge at the Suwannee River State Park Annex (Desoto Park) picnic area. See below.
p.211, mile 668.4. Just past the intersection with the Ellaville Trail, the Florida Trail has been relocated beneath the Interstate 10 highway bridge over the Suwannee to continue to follow the river south for a few more miles. This trades a boring walk along the interstate fence for a more interesting one along the river, and adds an extra mile or so of hiking.
p.212, DOWLING PARK: There are two more new services a half mile east of The Apothocary along CR 250: Jayveer Food Mart and Dollar General. The Apothocary has closed.
p.217. On the roadwalk between Suwannee and Aucilla, none of the churches had been contacted prior to hiking season. to make them aware of hiker needs. We thought they had been. Please be respectful and do not camp on church grounds unless someone is available to ask for permission to do so. This includes the Moseley Hall church (mile 704.3) which, despite the For Sale sign, is privately owned. Residents are also not aware that the Florida Trail passes in front of their property. Please do not expect them to even know what the trail is. If you are stopping for water and someone asks why, explain that you’re walking across Florida.
p.219, mile 689.9: Jellystone Park has raised primitive tent site rates to $45 (+10.5% tax)
p. 221, SHADY GROVE ROUTE. The Citgo (Sunoco) on US 27 south of Mt. Gilead Rd has closed.
p. 222: Walker’s Nut House has closed. The Fast Track Foods in Lamont is now a Jayveer Food Mart.
p.223, mile 723.1: A designated campsite is in place on the Mt. Gilead Tract of Middle Aucilla WMA along the roadwalk between the Suwannee and the Aucilla. Look for the FNST sign and blue blaze, follow to campsite.
p.226, mile 732.2: As it turns out, there are TWO Burnt Bridges along the Aucilla! This is not the one where the private car photo was taken. We’re trying to figure out which one is the Civil War historic site.
p.229, mile 753.4: Several hikers have asked about the Swamp Hammock Trail, which was newly signposted this season. It rejoins the current FT route at mile 755.9. A trail crew cleaned it up this past season; it is actually the original route of the Florida Trail through this part of St. Marks. It was under water more often than not, so the blazes were moved to the levee. It’s an official alternate and quite scenic, likely squishy underfoot. DO NOT trust the water at mile 755.9 as it is brackish. Since the official route moved to the levees, you now pass the junction with the Deep Creek Trail at mile 754.5. This is a shortcut to the St. Marks Visitor Center: 4.8 miles west to Lighthouse Rd plus 0.9 mi north on Lighthouse Rd. See below if you’d like to use the Swamp Hammock Trail, marked in blue. It is 0.6 mile longer than the orange blazed levee route.
p.231, mile 757.7: Ring Levee Campsite should be Ring Dike Campsite
p.231, mile 762.8: DO NOT trust the water source adjoining the Port Leon campsite (Port Leon Creek, flowing across the trail) as usuable drinking water. It is brackish more often than not. Obtain drinking water from the St. Marks Visitor Center (during the hours it’s open) for this campsite.
p.233, ST MARKS: Shell Island Fish Camp has snacks in their camp store and an on-site laundry.
mile 769.6: There is a Dollar General just north of the old bank at the corner of Port Leon Rd and US 98.
p.234, mile 772.4: This is the new location of the Wakulla River campsite, which has benches and a fire ring. Obtain potable water from the nearby Thompson House. There is NO campsite at Sawdust Hill, mile 773.4, but there is a tall pile of compacted sawdust with great views. The former blue blazed high water route in this area is no longer blazed. We’ve removed it from the app.
p.235, mile 783.5: Porter Tract campsite is basically a road that sits between two swamps with brackish water. It is not an appealing campsite, and we’d be worried about alligators here. The waterway under the bridge at 784.7 is brackish, so you can’t use it for drinking water.
p.235, mile 785.2: We tested the water at this pond adjoining Spring Creek Highway and it was drinkable when filtered. Same with water from the waterway at mile 785.8. As with all water sources in St. Marks, they may be fouled with salt water intrusion during high tides.
p.235, mile 787.1: Construction of the Spring Creek boardwalk/bridge is on the USFS trail projects schedule for the 2017 hiking season. We scouted the site in March 2016 and concur that without a boardwalk, it’s not a good idea to cross the estuary due to the deep sloppy mud. Use the posted roadwalk at Spring Creek Highway until the new boardwalk is in place.
p.238, PANACEA: The Lighthouse Motel in Panacea is no longer accepting guests, only residents.
Many thanks to Mike Tucker of the FTA Apalachee Chapter for taking to heart hiker’s concerns about the designated campsites in the Apalachicola National Forest. He led a group of volunteers to work on these sites in late spring. You will now find picnic benches and fire rings at the following designated campsites, all of which can be used during hunting season. Note that the first three on the list are brand new. All now have good signage as well, and some tenting areas have been relocated to better ground.
mile 796.0: Bent Sapling Camp (NEW)
mile 802.5: Sopchoppy River Camp (NEW)
mile 807.1: Martian Camp (NEW)
mile 830.9: Indian Creek
mile 837.0: Sapling Head
mile 845.0: Vilas
Porter Lake (mile 826.4) and Camel Lake (mile 855.4) are also designated campsites within recreation areas. Bradwell Island (mile 816.4) remains a designated campsite but has no improvements, since it’s in the wilderness area.
p.249, mile 862.3: About 4 miles north of Slip N Slide, another small store has opened at the former site of the Lake Mystic Grocery. Minor resupply.
p.254 data chart: Ongoing trail relocations in Econfina WMA mean gentle shifts along the river bluffs and more extensive changes through areas clearcut for longleaf pine restoration. Mileages won’t change greatly, but some landmarks will. We’ll be visiting this area in the spring to update our information.
p.255, BLOUNTSTOWN: Tavern on the Hill is out of business.
p.264, mile 942.4: Cowford Landing. The new Choctawhatchee River section (CRS) through Nokuse Plantation is now open! Watch for blazing and a pass-thru immediately north of Cowford Landing (after you cross the Choctawhatchee River using the SR 20 bridge). The new trail segment is an 8.3 mile diagonal with two designated campsites along it, one very close to the Seven Runs trailhead. It eliminates the roadwalk through Bruce, which means you will no longer have access to the Bruce Store or the Bruce Cafe on your hike.
p.264, mile 942.6: Large, visible roadside signs for the Florida Trail are starting to appear from the Central Panhandle west. The SR 20 one was the first to catch our attention, pointing you to the new Choctawhatchee River section.
Regarding the new section, it’s a beauty. It spans 8.3 miles from SR 20 to SR 81, eliminating the roadwalk through Bruce. You should still follow the road if the river gauge for the Choctawhatchee River is over 13 feet, which it has been several times already since this section opened.
Here are key mileages along the new route, with mile 942.6 as the entry point:
943.9 Cypress Creek boardwalk: water
945.8 Leaning Pine Camp: tenting, benches, fire ring. No water.
949.7 Dead River Road: 1.1E to Dead River Landing, camping with free permit (privy, picnic shelters, water from river) from Northwest Florida Water Management District
950.5 River Bend Camp:tenting, benches, fire ring. Water from creek
p.262, mile 958.1: Minor reroute near Little Black Creek is not reflected in the FT app.
p.266, mile 971.2: Parking for a couple of vehicles is possible east of the new, not yet open lanes of US 331 at the west gate for the Nokuse section. A traffic barrel was set on the west side of the highway to make the trail crossing more obvious, and there are now pedestrian crossing signs where the trail crosses, not that it slows traffic down at all.
p.270: NEW PROCEDURE for EGLIN PERMITS effective December 2016. An Outdoor Recreation Permit is required for hiking the Florida Trail through Eglin. Obtain this $20 permit online. To complete the registration process, you will need to watch the online Safety Brief. Once you have watched the video, you will be able to view available permits. Print your permit and copy the image to your smartphone. Carry your permit with you. Do not enter the base without a permit. Be sure to sign in and out at each trailhead kiosk as you cross Eglin. Your permit includes camping at the following campsites: Eglin Portal, Alaqua, Red Deer, Pearl, and Dean. If you wish to camp at Speck Pond, JR Walton Pond, or Buck Pond, you must pay $5 per person per night for a camping permit, and they want you to obtain that in person at the Eglin Natural Resources Office during normal business hours (weekdays, call 850-882-4164 for hours) in advance of your hike.
p.267 REGULATIONS UPDATE: While visiting the Jackson Guard office at Eglin, we learned about two policy changes. First, hikers may now bring dogs with them. Second, no camping permit is needed for FTA-built campsites along the Florida Trail. They are now included in your Recreational Permit, which you can obtain online. You do need a camping permit to use JR Walton, Speck Pond, or Buck Pond campsites, and that permit must be obtained in person at Jackson Guard. And you do still need to sign in and out at kiosks at the start and end of your traverse of Eglin.
p.271: Denali no longer lives near Eglin AFB and will no longer be wrangling permits. Once you have your Recreation Permit, your FT campsites are included.
p.271, mile 973.3: On the eastern border of Eglin, the roadwalk between Segrest Rd and Eglin Portal along US 331 will have you in a construction zone the entire way. It’s messy but certainly less busy than walking along the highway itself.
p.271, mile 975.1: Eglin Portal trailhead cannot be accessed by vehicles, as it is completely blocked by the construction zone. You can walk up to it.
After hiking the Alaqua section recently with an experienced thru-hiker, we now have a suggested rule of thumb for northbounders determining whether to ford Alaqua Creek. If the depth of Blount Creek is less than ankle deep, Alaqua Creek may be fordable. When it was ankle deep at Blount Creek, we found Alaqua Creek three feet deep at the flagged ford, a foot deeper than recommended by the trail maintainers on the Notice to Hikers posted nearby. It was challenging to cross without a backpack. Deeper than that would be dangerous. Hiking sticks were a must for maintaining footing in the current.
The most troublesome problem for judging the depth of Alaqua Creek is the sides of the creek are steep. It’s far too easy to fall in or slip in. Bottom line: it’s not worth hiking to it to check it out if Blount Creek is ankle deep or deeper. Turn around and take the roadwalk bypass. You can use Eglin Portal campsite as a staging point for it.
This is the roadwalk route we mapped and added to the FT app as the 12.5 mile Alaqua Bypass:
Retreat to the Forrest Oak Rd crossing, which is outside the Eglin gate across the road. Follow Forrest Oak Rd in the other direction, compass east 1.2 miles through a rural neighborhood, to US 331. Follow US 331 (again, through a construction zone) for 5.2 miles north, passing beneath Interstate 10 and by services to Bob Sikes Rd. There is a motel across from Walmart, Sundown Inn, with easy access to services. Follow Bob Sikes Rd west 2.8 miles to Pleasant Ridge Rd. Follow Pleasant Ridge Rd for 3.3 miles to the trail crossing. Southbound hikers should use this roadwalk to bypass Alaqua Creek, as there is no easy way to judge creek depth from the south side, AND you are fighting a strong current.
p.269 chart, mile 978: Eglin Portal campsite has a blue blazed trail to a reliable water source.
p.272, mile 978.3: Blount Creek is NOT the location of the Demon Bridge. It used to be at Alaqua Creek but it washed away. Instead, there is a log felled across Blount Creek. We suggest you ford as the log seems rotted.
p.273, mile 991.5: Bull Campsite has a blue blazed trail to a reliable water source. Since the campsite is atop the ridge, it’s a steep descent down to the water and back up, but well worth the trip to see the grotto and its little cascades.
p.273, MOSSY HEAD: Chevron is now a Sunoco. Simply Good BBQ is.
p.274, mile 1009.5: At JR Walton Pond, it is best not to camp near the FT kiosk since vehicles can and do come down the adjoining road at all hours. There are slightly more secluded campsites with picnic benches on the far side of the pond and along the trail just 0.2 north of the kiosk.
p.280, HOLT: Bowman’s Food Mart and Gartz Pizza have closed. Uncle Bill’s is now Susan’s, a country diner. New Dollar General at corner with Log Lake Rd.
p.280-281, mile 1034.2: A MAJOR RELOCATION has occurred at Holt. Do not follow US 90 west from Holt. Instead, follow Log Lake Road south. Watch for the orange blazes. They will lead you to a brand new section of trail in Yellow River Ravines, heading compass west and eliminating the roadwalk between Holt and Harold. There are several streams as water sources.
P.281: The Holt Campsite has been abandoned because of the above relocation. Harold is no longer along the thru-trail but is now part of the Blackwater section, so do not plan on resupply there if you are headed to Fort Pickens.
NOTES regarding the new Yellow River Ravines section between Log Lake Rd and Deer Lake Junction: it is a very physically challenging section of trail with many water crossings, swamp traverses, a ford across Garnier Creek, and only one permanent bridge, at Burnt Grocery Creek. Expect wet feet when hiking this section. No designated campsites have been developed yet, but you can pitch a tent at Guest Lake Park, located down a blue blaze just 4.3 miles trail north of the intersection of US 90 & Log Lake Rd.
p.281, mile 1045.8: The new junction of the BLACKWATER and EGLIN sections is now near Deer Lake Road. Continue compass west along the orange blazes if headed to Fort Pickens, continue north along the blue blazes if headed to Alabama.
p.282, mile 1053.6: The SR 87 Yellow River trailhead is closed during road widening. The project has the road torn up, creating hazards for hikers headed between Yellow River Ravines and Eglin West. Walk only on the west side of the highway. See full details on the FTA Notice to Hikers.
As noted above, the Blackwater section now starts near Deer Lake Road. This means that water at Burnt Grocery Creek, camping at the Steephead campsite, and resupply at the Harold Store all now shift into the Blackwater section. The trail remains the same north of Harold, but this shift adds a few miles to a full hike of the Blackwater section.
North of your last access to Juniper Creek, there are several water sources in the Jackson Red Ground Trail section not noted in the book. The Boy Scout Bridge is 6.4 miles north of Juniper Creek over a tributary of Blue Creek; unreliable water source. Blue Creek flows in culverts under Charlie Foster Rd and is a reliable water source – a floodplain swamp – 0.1N of the Boy Scout Bridge. Cane Creek is a narrow creek with a good flow but could be unreliable during drought. It flows under a boardwalk a half mile north of Blue Creek.
The new link for information on the northbound ECT route through Alabama is hikealabama.org/ectnew.html
EASTERN CONTINENTAL TRAIL
p.335 chart, mile 153.9: NORTHBOUND continue north along the west side of the L-31 canal to reach US 41. It is no longer necessary to roadwalk Krome Ave.
p.335 chart, mile 164. SOUTHBOUND use the L-31 canal road to head south, avoiding Dade Corners and Krome Avenue entirely. NORTHBOUND: If you need services, Dade Corners is 1 mile east along US 41.
p.341, mile 198.1: The kiosk at the south end of the Roberts Lake Trail at Loop Road (formerly the Florida Trail terminus) has been removed. When driving Loop Road and looking for the trail, look for and park at the Pace Dike lot. It’s obvious, and the trail is just east of there.
Appendix A, Maildrops
ZIP CODE ERRORS
Unfortunately uncovering this problem caused distress to a couple of our thru-hikers, but we’re glad they brought it to our attention. When we did the last pass on Appendix A, the maildrop list, we were cross-checking post office hours against information in the book and didn’t double-check zip codes as we thought we did. You can print off an updated copy of Appendix A here to replace the one in the book.
If you have sent a maildrop to Lake Harbor, Rocky’s in Shady Grove, Holt, Polk City, Hernando, Belleview, or Key West, please follow the following instructions ASAP:
p36. Lake Harbor (Seminole) should be 33459. If you sent mail to 34141 call Ochopee, 239-695-2099, open 8-10 & 12-4 weekdays, to redirect your mail.
p129. Polk City (Western Corridor) should be 33868. If you sent mail to 34139, call Everglades City, 239-695-2174, open 9:30-1 & 2-4:30 weekdays, to redirect your mail.
p145. Hernando (Western Corridor) should be 34442. If you sent your mail to 34450, it’s in Inverness, and you can pick it up en route to Hernando northbound or after Hernando southbound, they are adjoining communities along the Withlacoochee State Trail. Otherwise call Inverness at 352-726-2757, open 9-5 weekdays 9-12 Sat, to redirect your mail.
p156 Belleview (Western Corridor) should be 34420. The transposition error of 33420 sends packages to West Palm Beach, not to a post office General Delivery. If USPS allowed you to mail it like that, use their main number at 800-275-8777 to track down and redirect your package.
p220. Rocky’s Shady Grove (Big Bend) should be 32331-8794. They were assigned a new zip code when they became an official USPS substation. If you sent your mail to 32357, call Greenville, 850-948-2301, open 8:30 AM – 4PM weekdays, to redirect it to Rocky’s if they did not do so automatically.
p317. Key West (ECT) should be 33040. If you sent your mail to 33042, it’s in Summerland Key, 26.7 miles north of Key West along the ECT route. You can pick it up there or call them at 305-745-3391, 9:30-4:30 weekdays, to redirect it.
Appendix A. Holt (Eglin) should be 32564. The transposition error of 32654 only shows up in the Appendix. If you sent your mail to 32654, call Island Grove, 352-481-9397, open 8-10AM weekdays, to redirect your package.
These zip code errors should have no effect on your maildrops:
p49. Okeechobee, now 34972. 34973 was the old postal station near Publix, now closed.
p99. Lake Mary, now 32746. 32476 was a transposition, not a valid zip. You shouldn’t have been able to send anything to that zip code in Florida.
p194. Lake City, now 32055. Mail sent to 32056 is still a valid Lake City zip.
p277. Crestview, now 32539. Mail sent to 32536 is still a valid Crestview zip.
Appendix B, Outfitters
Buck N Bass in Salt Springs is under new ownership and looking forward to helping hikers in the Ocala National Forest. Call ahead if you have any specific gear needs.
Rabbit Mountain in Miami has closed its doors.