Heading away from the coastal fringe and into the heart of Florida’s largest National Forest, the Apalachicola section of the Florida Trail traverses some of the wettest, wildest swamp forest found outside of the Big Cypress Swamp.
The legendary Bradwell Bay, a swamp basin in the heart of the Apalachicola National Forest, protects a stand of virgin pine forest.
Crossing it when wet, which is often, is one of the most difficult feats on the Florida Trail.
Known for its botanical beauty, particularly for its pitcher plant bogs and terrestrial orchids, the Apalachicola is often soggy underfoot, with its many titi swamps and wet pine flatwoods.
By contrast, beautiful views await on the river bluffs of the Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee Rivers. Best hiked in spring, when the flowers are at their peak, it is a challenging hiking destination.
FLOODING can make hiking along the Sopchoppy River dangerous. Check National Weather Service flood gauge.
Roadwalk around the Sopchoppy River if it is flooded. The Apalachicola National Forest is otherwise always generally wet. Expect to wade.
Contact the Apalachicola National Forest, 850-926-3561 regards flood conditions and advisories regarding water levels in Bradwell Bay.
Bradwell Bay is one of the most challenging pieces of the Florida Trail, even though it can be done in a day hike.
High water levels and a muddy bottom with deep holes means slow going. In times of high water, Bradwell Island campsite is flooded.
Wear a bright orange shirt or vest during hunting seasons. Check the FWC website for hunting season dates.
Backpackers are limited to using designated campsites (the established primitive campsites with signage, plus Camel Lake Recreation Area) during general gun season.
Random camping is otherwise permitted the remainder of the year. A fee applies for camping at Camel Lake.
A bear bag or bear canister is required for backpackers in the Apalachicola National Forest.
Resupply in Medart, Panacea, or Sopchoppy before you head north into the Apalachicola National Forest, and in Bristol if you are heading south. There are no facilities except campsites anywhere near the trail through this section.