The southernmost trail on Big Talbot Island is the 0.8-mile Big Pine Trail, a short walk out to a bluff above the estuary. A maritime hammock surrounds a slash pine forest which the trail meanders through, always riffled by a stiff salt breeze. A spur trail leads to the scenic view, and you can clamber down the hillside to the needlerush marsh.
Location: Big Talbot Island
Length: 0.8 mile
Lat-Long: 30.469085, -81.439524
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: moderate
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 1.6 miles to the Big Pine Trail, on the right.
From the trailhead, follow the trail as it winds through the maritime hammock and into a slash pine forest. The forest is dense enough that if it weren’t for the fresh salt breeze, you wouldn’t suspect you were near the ocean. Red bay, holly, and live oaks provide a shady canopy. Beware of poison ivy that creeps up to the footpath in places.
At the trail junction after 0.3 mile, turn right and follow the footpath to a sandy bluff on the edge of the salt marsh. A salty creek sluices past amid the black needlerush. Gnarled cedars stand sentinel along the bluff, and you can walk out on a mat of dead needlerush to take in the sweeping view of the salt marsh.
Retreat up the bluff and turn right on the main trail, which ends at a spot on the bluff surrounded by saw palmetto. Retrace your steps to complete a 0.8-mile hike.