An official connector, the Blackwater section takes a blue-blazed branch of the Florida Trail up to the Alabama State Line to link up with the Alabama Hiking Trail and the greater Eastern Continental Trail. Blackwater River State Forest is Florida’s largest state forest, encompassing 190,000 acres of pine flatwoods and clayhills along the scenic Blackwater River and its tributaries.
Popular for backpacking trips, this beautiful section of the trail walks you through Atlantic white cedar and longleaf pine forests, pitcher plant bogs and titi swamps. Once a major lumber and turpentine area, it’s now devoted to conservation and recreation, with a handful of private leases to farmers growing cotton and corn.
North of Deaton Bridge, the Florida Trail utilizes parts of three hiking trails to head north: the Juniper Creek Trail, the Jackson Red Ground Trail, and the Wiregrass Trail. South of Deaton Bridge, the trail traverses the Hutton Unit and the Deer Lake Unit, both of which sport showy pitcher plant bogs as well as steephead ravines.
FLOODING can make hiking along the Blackwater River and its tributaries dangerous. Check National Weather Service flood gauge. There is no safe way to skirt around flooding at Deaton Bridge if it occurs. Do not enter flowing waters.
Wear a bright orange shirt or vest during hunting seasons in Blackwater River State Forest. Check the FWC website for hunting season dates.
No permits are required to hike in Blackwater River State Forest. Fees apply if you are camping at developed recreation areas such as Blackwater River State Park, Bear Lake Recreation Area, Krul Lake Recreation Area, Karick Lake Recreation Area, and Hurricane Lake Recreation Area.
Fees apply if you leave a car at Blackwater River State Park, which is the safest place to leave one during a backpacking trip, inside the park gates. Check at the ranger station for fees.
Frequent prescribed burns are used for forest management throughout Blackwater River State Forest. All times of year, expect at least a portion of your hike to be through recently burned forest. To avoid walking into an ongoing burn, call ahead to check on their schedule of planned burns along the Florida Trail, 850-957-5700
Water sources are scarce the farther north you go along this section. Plan where to get your next water.
16.6 miles. On the Jackson Red Ground Trail, the very first trail built in Blackwater River State Forest in the 1970s, the Florida Trail rises up from the red clay bluffs of Juniper Creek and enters rolling clayhills topped with longleaf pine forests.
7.3 miles. Also known as the Juniper Creek Trail, the Florida Trail at Juniper Creek is a gorgeous place to explore, with its panorama at Red Rocks and botanical delights along and above the creek basin.
Florida Trail Videos (Blackwater)
How to order a copy of The Florida Trail: Florida’s National Scenic Trail, our limited edition full-color coffee table book that tells the comprehensive story of the first 50 years of routing, building, maintaining, and enjoying our statewide National Scenic Trail.
While at the Panhandle Trace Hike we camped at Blackwater River State Park. We didn’t know in advance that this particular state park campground is designed for RVs, trailers, and other folks who don’t camp in tents. After months and months of camping in the woods, it was quite a shock to our way of …