Interpretive boardwalks meander around the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center, showcasing coastal habitats along St. George Sound. The Nature Center itself is a regional gem for all ages, providing an in-depth look at the marine life, heritage, and culture surrounding the ever-changing shores and islands of Apalachicola Bay.
Length: 3/4 mile trail network
Trailhead: 29.7301, -84.8866
Address: 108 Island Drive, Eastpoint
Restroom: At the Nature Center
Land manager: Apalachicola NERR
Trails open daily 9 AM to 4 PM. Nature Center open Tue-Sat 9 AM to 4 PM. Leashed dogs permitted on trails but not in the Nature Center.
Approaching Eastpoint from either Carrabelle or Apalachicola along US 98, keep alert for the intersection with Island Drive, which leads to the bridge to St. George Island. The entrance to the Apalachicola NERR parking area is on the left just after you pass Patton Drive and before you reach the bridge.
The trailhead beckons from the parking area, and it’s the only way to get to the Nature Center. So why not explore along the way? Accessible for the most part, this series of sidewalks and boardwalks is well marked as it traverses a variety of coastal habitats.
Start by following the main trail from the parking lot kiosk up to a trail junction under the pines. Turn left on the Nature Walk. Pick up a plant guide from the box. As you walk, you’ll note inspirational quotes on signs at overlooks.
The boardwalk first leads along the edge of a marsh with views for birding before it reaches a junction under the pines. Keep left. At the next junction, keep left again.
Traversing a denser portion of the pines – where a thicket of Southern magnolia is a highlight – the trail loops back around to that junction. Continue straight ahead before taking the next left.
This portion of the trail crosses a wetter pine habitat before rejoining the main trail within sight of the Nature Center. Turn left to walk up to the Nature Center, which is on the upper deck. Use the stairs or the elevator.
Inside the center, you’ll find tanks with marine life as well as exhibits on the natural and cultural history of Apalachicola Bay. A movie is offered in the theater.
When you leave the Nature Center, follow the main trail back towards the parking area. Turn left at the 4-way junction to follow the path and boardwalk to the Bay Overlook.
It swoops out near the parking area before re-entering the coastal pine forest. Emerging along the shoreline of Apalachicola Bay, you get a sweeping view of the natural beach and its marshes.
Return along this path to the main trail and turn left to exit to the parking area.
See our slides from Apalachicola NERR
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
In Tate’s Hell State Forest, the High Bluff Coastal Trail along US 98 near Carrabelle leads you over relict dunes covered with scrub plants like Florida rosemary and scrub mint.
Leading to a stand of dwarf bald cypress centuries old and less than 15 feet tall, the Kendrick Boardwalk at Tate’s Hell State Forest is one of the weirder botanical spots in the Florida panhandle.
Blessed with brilliant white quartz sand, St. George Island State Park is a sparkling, quiet getaway protecting more than 2,000 acres of coastal habitats on a barrier island between Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.