Exploring Eglin Air Force Base
In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt established this vast preserve of longleaf pine forest and coastal live oaks as Choctawhatchee National Forest, a working Federal forest for timber and turpentine. When those resources tapped out, the Air Force was eager to take on the land to expand their operations while gearing up to train pilots on bombing runs for World War II.
Covering 640 square miles of Northwest Florida, Eglin Air Force Base is one of the largest military reservations on the East Coast. For decades, the Jackson Guard, a branch of the service on base, has overseen outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. First it was access for hunting, fishing, and camping. By the late 1990s, the Florida Trail Association was permitted to build a trail across the reservation. It is one of the finest backpacking destinations in the state thanks to its rugged topography, plentiful streams, and old growth forests. Popular mountain bike trails are located just north of Fort Walton Beach, and paddlers enjoy tackling Titi Creek.
Rules and Regulations
Since Eglin is an active military base, all visitors must follow posted rules and regulations. Anyone planning to enjoy the outdoors at Eglin Air Force Base must obtain an annual Outdoor Recreation permit. Obtain your permit online.
Before heading to Eglin Air Force Base to hike, bike, paddle, or camp, you must always check ahead that the area you plan to visit is not closed due to military excercises. You can check the Public Access Map online or call 850-882-4164. FPCON DELTA status means the entire base is closed to public access.
Eglin Air Force Base is an active military base with ongoing bomb testing. If you notice any sort of ordinance – rocket, bomb, hand grenade – do not approach it but note the location and call Eglin Security Forces at 850-882-2502 to report it. For your safety, stay on marked trails and in designated recreation areas.
Wear a bright orange shirt or vest during hunting seasons. Check the Eglin iSportsman website for hunting season dates.
Outdoor Recreation Destinations
NEARBY: Crestview, DeFuniak Springs, Destin, Ebro, Freeport, Fort Walton Beach, Milton, Navarre Beach | PART OF: Northwest Florida