At Blackwater River State Forest, each of the recreation areas offers access to hiking, and popular Bear Lake is no exception. A 4-mile trail loops around this impounded reservoir, which flows into Sweetwater Creek. The hike leads you through pine flatwoods and bluff forests, where Southern magnolia and hickory trees provide shade and pitcher plants grow along the bog edges. It’s an excellent spot for birding, and swallow-tailed kites are frequently spotted here.
Length: 4 miles
Lat-Long: 30.862117, -86.833067
Fees / Permits: state forest entrance fee
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Bug factor: Low to moderate
Restrooms are at the campground at the trailhead. Fishing is a popular activity at this recreation area. Be aware that alligators may be seen along the trail.
Two connector trails extend to the larger trail system within the forest: the Sweetwater Trail leads 1.5 miles west to Krul Recreation Area, and 2 miles east to reach the Jackson Red Ground Trail, part of the Florida Trail.
From the junction of SR 191 and SR 4 in Munson, drive east 2 miles to the Bear Lake Recreation Area entrance on the left side of the highway. Continue 0.6 miles down the entrance road to the trailhead kiosk; park near the kiosk.