Literally at the end of the road, Econfina River State Park hugs the shoreline of a river that rises in the vast floodplain swamps around Perry.
By the time it slips south of US 98, the Econfina quickly reaches the vast estuarine sweep of Florida’s Big Bend along one of its more remote shorelines.
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Trailhead: 30.05942, -83.907114
Address: 4741 Econfina River Rd, Lamont
Fees: $2 per vehicle
Restroom: Vault toilet at picnic area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. Expect copious mosquitoes.
The turnoff for Econfina River State Park off US 98 is 15 miles west of Perry and 18 miles east of Newport (entrance to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge). From its intersection with US 98, follow CR 14 for 6.1 miles to the end of the road.
About the Park
Edged by forest and river, the day use area is along a cul-de-sac at the end of CR 14 past a campground in lodge in the tiny coastal town of Econfina.
It encompasses a picnic area within sight of the river, a boat launch, and parking areas for trail users and boaters.
It’s only a little over two miles downriver to where the Econfina merges with the Gulf of Mexico, but the coastline is not visible from here.
A small grassy river frontage with a seawall and steps, perhaps the former location of a building, is one place to drop a line. The river shoreline is otherwise marshy.
The Marsh Island Loop starts at the northwest edge of the parking area at a trail sign and gate.
It is a marked 2.5 mile hiking trail, the southernmost route in a remote trail network largely established for equestrians.
Blazed with blue hiker symbols, it ducks around a small pond under a cedar and oak canopy before following a raised causeway into the salt marshes.
It’s a half mile out to the start of the loop portion of the trail along the salt marshes. Halfway there, we ran into an obstacle.
Large stones were laid down in the bottom of the creek for horses to cross, but for hikers, the water depth and lack of clarity was sketchy.
A large concrete pipe sat nearby, so perhaps future plans are to make a crossing here using it. We ended up with a half mile round-trip to this pretty spot.
Several gates along CR 14 led to other trails shown on the map at the day use area, but we have not tried to explore them.
We could not find additional trailhead parking along the highway at the gates that lead to those trails.
Beyond a paddle out to the Gulf of Mexico from the launch, Econfina River State Park is a critical stop along the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.
Coastal paddlers must come upriver for fresh water, food, and camping. An RV campground just north of the park has a camp store.
A small primitive campsite for paddlers is located a mile upriver from the launch on the west shore of the river.
The park is the western terminus of the Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail, which sweeps a 105 mile route along one of Florida’s wildest coastlines.
Undeveloped and extremely remote, it is where Florida’s peninsula and panhandle meet.
A free permit is required for camping and also to tackle more than a day paddle along this coastline. Filing a float plan with a friend would be prudent.
See our photos of Econfina River State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.