At Camel Lake Recreation Area, the Camel Lake Loop is a short hike on high ground in a place where most habitats are downright swampy.
Despite the name of the recreation area, this body of water is Camel Pond, one of many large ponds in this part of the forest, and the trail circles it.
An easy 1.2 mile walk on a broad trail, it’s a good add-on to a visit, whether you’re here for a picnic or camping.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Apalachicola National Forest
Length: 1.2 mile loop
Trailhead: 30.2768, -84.9906
Fees: $5 per vehicle
Restroom: At the recreation area
Land manager: National Forests in Florida
Camel Lake Recreation Area is open 9 AM – 4 PM summer, 8 AM – 6 PM winter.
Those camping at Camel Lake have access to the trail outside day use hours. Leashed dogs permitted.
Follow CR 12 south from the CR 12 and SR 20 intersection in Bristol into the Apalachicola National Forest. Watch for FR 105 on the left. Follow the road for 2 miles. Turn right and park inside Camel Lake Recreation Area
Park your vehicle in the large parking area near the restrooms, and walk down to the lake. Look out over the calm waters. On a warm day, you might see an alligator.
On a holy day, you might see members of a local church performing baptisms in the old traditional way.
Turn right and follow the shoreline around to an old jeep road that leads to the boat ramp. Here you’ll see a sign for the trailhead.
The path is broad and not at all difficult to follow as it circles the pond under a canopy of tall longleaf pines and turkey oaks.
You’ll pass interpretive markers long abandoned; guess at their meanings. At a fork, keep to the left, always with the pond at your left.
The trail continues on a low bluff above the water and eventually loops around to place itself between the campground and the water.
You reach the recreation area’s edge at the open grassy space. Continue back to the parking area to complete the 1.2 mile loop.
Learn more about the Apalachicola National Forest
Apalachicola National Forest
Noted for its botanical beauty, the Apalachicola National Forest is the largest National Forest in Florida, sweeping south and west of Tallahassee
See our photos from the Camel Lake Loop
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Trail of Lakes
Make a 9.5-mile loop in the Florida Trail east of Camel Lake in the Apalachicola National Forest by using a blue-blazed connector weaving through titi swamps and around large flatwoods ponds.
Florida Trail, Camel Lake to Savannahs
5.3 miles. Wet feet are expected on this traverse of the pine savannas along the edges of Johnson Juniper Swamp in the Apalachicola National Forest, where careful inspection along the Florida Trail yields a bounty of carnivorous plants.
Florida Trail, Vilas to Camel Lake
10.3 miles. Broadening your perspective on Florida’s largest national forest, the Florida Trail east of Camel Lake offers an ever-shifting focus from macro to landscape, showcasing one of the most habitat-diverse parts of the Apalachicola National Forest.
Apalachee Savannas Scenic Byway
In the Apalachicola National Forest, the Apalachee Savannas Scenic Byway is a winding stretch of scenic road through expansive wet flatwoods and open pine savannas