Along Florida’s Forgotten Coast, the beaches of Bald Point State Park arc out into Apalachee Bay where the Ochlockonee River flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s a slender peninsula reaching off aptly named Alligator Point, fringed with extensive salt marshes and the slimmest of coastal hammocks along a quiet shore.
Location: Alligator Point
Address: 146 Box Cut Rd, Alligator Point
Fees: $4 per vehicle, $2 pedestrian or cyclist
Restroom: at the parking area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open sunrise to sunset daily. Dogs are not permitted on the beach. Picnic tables, restrooms, and the boardwalk are accessible.
Sunscreen and a hat are suggested, as shade is limited along the shoreline.
Carry insect repellent, as you may need it in the estuary for the mosquitoes. Yellowflies can be a major problem here in early summer. Unfortunately, repellent doesn’t work on them.
From Tallahassee, follow US 319 to US 98 at Medart. Drive west on US 98 through Panacea to Ochlockonee Bay, crossing the bay on a long bridge. Continue one mile to SR 370, the road to Alligator Point. Follow this road for 3 miles to the turnoff for Bald Point Road. Follow Bald Point Road into the main entrance for the beach portion of the park. See the map above for other trailheads within Bald Point State Park.
About the Park
Surrendering yourself to the coast of the Big Bend means tuning into both tiny details and panoramic landscapes.
You’ll want to sweep your view across the vast horizons, where waves dance in the foreground.
But don’t forget to look down. At Bald Point State Park, wildflowers put on a perpetual show.
Summer means splashes of purple and white, coming from runners of morning-glory with a parade of blossoms, and members of the pea family blazing in the sun.
In fall, the park is in the migration path for both monarch butterflies and raptors, including bald eagles.
Even in winter, the beach walk is fascinating, with shorebirds dashing along the sand.
Individual picnic table pavilions front the beach at each of the parking areas.
Near the end of the park road, a boardwalk leads out to an observation platform overlooking the estuary. An accessible fishing pier is at the end of the road.
The Sand Pine Trail off Alligator Drive is a 1.7 mile loop through the coastal sand pine scrub.
While it’s open to cyclists, the soft sand is challenging enough for hiking. A spur leads towards Alligator Harbor for scenic views.
The Sundew Trail is a 1.6 mile loop off the Tucker Lake Trail, which is more popular with cyclists because it’s 6 miles around the larger loop.
The shorter loop will get you up close to carnivorous plants in the wetlands.
Hikers will appreciate the beach walk, which can be connected with the estuary boardwalk for a 1.3 mile loop.
Since we last hiked it, a return trail has been blazed to parallel the park road and is now known as the Maritime Hammock Loop.
An entirely new tract of the state park is now open along on the St. Teresa Bluffs along Ochlockonee Bay south of Sopchoppy.
Accessed via a drive through a signposted entrance for Tates Hell State Forest off US 319, it features two loops out to the bay and a lake for paddling.
Off-road enthusiasts can join hikers on a network of sandy trails through the coastal pine forests.
These follow a network of 18 miles of old roads where a subdivision was prevented by the purchase of this land for conservation, as well as forest roads for park management.
The 1.4 mile Double Pond Loop can be accessed off the entrance road to the beach. Look for the gates on the left.
From it, the Sunday Reel Trail extends another 2.1 miles out to Ochlockokee Bay, for a 5.6 mile round-trip and loop ride.
Access to these trails is by biking Bald Point Rd from one of the trailheads north or south of the entrance point to the trails.
The longest loop in the park is 6 miles around Tucker Lake. Access it from the very first trailhead you see heading north on Bald Point Rd on the right after you turn off Alligator Dr.
Chaires Creek and Tucker Lake, both tidal waterways in the estuary, can be reached by paddlers who put in off Range Rd just west of the Chaires Creek Bridge.
One paddle-in campsite is along Chaires Creek for the benefit of the Florida Saltwater Circumnavigational Trail. If you’d like to use it, just call the park in advance.
See our photos of Bald Point State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.