The Alapaha and Suwannee Rivers both have origins in southern Georgia, where they flow south into the Florida peninsula.
At the confluence of these rivers, much of the land is protected by the Suwannee River Water Management District, after which the trail enters Suwannee River State Park.
Outstanding views of the waterways and surrounding woodland occur throughout this hike, along with notable geologic features and one designated campsite.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 7.7 miles linear
Trailhead: 30.438848, -83.092925
Address: CR 249, Jasper
Restrooms: At Gibson Park
Land managers: Hamilton County, Suwannee River Water Management District, Florida State Parks
Dogs are allowed on a leash. Backpackers welcome. Check on river levels in advance to ensure the trail will not be flooded through this section.
No permits required for the Alapaha campsite, which has access to the river confluence for water.
Limited space for tenting.
Campsites are available at Gibson Park for a fee. Overnight parking permitted. Please see the camp host for a site or if leaving your car overnight.
Vandalism has been reported at the Big Oak Parking area on SW 46th Ave. Do not leave cars overnight there.
From Interstate 75 in Jasper, head southwest on SR 6 for 3.2 miles, then turn left onto CR 751. Continue for 3.6 mile, the county park and parking lot will be on the right side of the road.
From the parking area at Gibson Park, follow CR 751 north. This brief roadwalk crosses a bridge over the Alapaha River before leaving the road at a Florida Trail sign.
After the trail drops down an embankment adjacent to the bridge, the river immediately becomes visible alongside it.
The woodland pathway parallels this waterway downstream towards the Suwannee River.
Water volume for both rivers fluctuates greatly, carving a winding path through sand and limestone at low levels.
After a mile, a former land management boundary is evidenced by a stile that once took hikers over a barbed wire fence.
Although it is no longer necessary, the stile serves as a reminder of the constantly evolving nature of conservation lands.
Near the two-mile mark, a blue blazed side trail leads to the Alapaha campsite, a designated camping area at the confluence of the Alapaha and Suwannee Rivers.
The turn towards this spot is marked with a post and campsite symbol.
Even if you are not camping, the brief side trip is worth the ramble for a view of where the Alapaha flows into the Suwannee River.
A trail leads from the campsite to this rocky peninsula between the rivers.
Sweeping to the right, the path begins to follow the majestic Suwannee, though it is not yet visible through the bankside vegetation.
Orange blazes adorn large oak trees under an established canopy, leading to a short walk along a dirt road before the trail again cuts towards the river.
Intriguing geological formations abound in this area, owing to the exposed limestone in the karst landscape.
The trail heads away from the river momentarily, circling the first of these noticeable topographies, a curious rocky depression resembling a slough.
Turning away from the river, the trail shoots northwest for a short jaunt before taking a sharp left turn off Alapaha Rd.
Blazes indicate the way through an established hardwood hammock for 0.7 mile to the first glimpse of the river atop a limestone bluff.
In a quarter mile, weather-worn signs indicate you have entered the northern shore of Suwannee River State Park.
The trail delivers stunning vistas of rocky embankments alongside the river while continuing to negotiate the forested bluffs.
Continue for 1.6 miles, and if the conditions are right, crystal clear waters flow from a spring alongside the river.
A short, root-bordered ravine is carved from the bluff where the cool waters rush out to a beach alongside the tannic Suwannee.
After another half mile, the trail passes a geological formation known as Five Holes.
The sinkholes themselves have been fenced off by the state due to safety concerns.
A short roadwalk begins in a quarter mile, where the trail leaves the woodlands next to a large sign affixed to an oak tree.
Continue following blazes for 0.2 mile, finishing the hike at the Big Oak Trail parking area.
NORTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Big Oak Trail
SOUTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Holton Creek WMA
Learn more about the Suwannee section of the Florida Trail
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
The Big Oak Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in North Florida. Much of the hiking parallels the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, which meet here at a confluence.
Perched at the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, Suwannee River State Park melds major historic sites with unusual karst topography.
A long-time Old Florida swimming hole along SR 6 between the towns of Lee and Jasper, Madison Blue Spring is a sinkhole pouring out a first-magnitude spring into the Withlacoochee River.