11 miles. One of the narrowest high-speed highways that the Florida Trail follows, CR 12 into Bristol connects the Apalachicola National Forest with the Apalachicola River and the Central Time Zone.
Since the Florida Trail’s initial northern terminus was set at the west end of the Apalachicola National Forest, when the terminus was pushed farther west in the 1980s, the only way to cross the Apalachicola River was to walk up CR 12 into Bristol to use the highway bridge on SR 20. That’s what thru-hikers and section hikers still must do today to complete an end-to-end hike of the Florida Trail. While this region is quite rural, a surprising amount of high-speed traffic, especially logging trucks, uses this road.
Whenever roadwalking on the Florida Trail, wear a bright orange or yellow safety vest so as to stand out to motorists. Always walk facing traffic and step off the highway when vehicles approach. Assume that motorists, if they see you at all, see you as an obstruction, not as a hiker.
The southern portion of this roadwalk is in the middle of the Apalachicola National Forest. Check hunt dates as a part of your trip planning, and always wear bright orange clothing during hunting seasons.
Camel Lake Recreation Area is roughly 50 miles southwest of Capital Circle West in Tallahassee via SR 20 and CR 12. From the traffic light along SR 20 in the town of Bristol along the Apalachicola River, drive south 10.1 miles on CR 12 to reach the Savannah trailhead [30.297371, -85.018288].
In Bristol, the closest place to park near the Apalachicola River Bridge is the Apalachee Restaurant along SR 20. Ask before leaving a car there. Public parking is available along SR 20 at Theo Jacobs Rd at Veterans Memorial Park.
Only thru-hikers and section hikers need to take on this segment of the Florida Trail. A narrow road with no bike lane and lots of logging trucks makes this one of the more unnerving roadwalks along the FT. There is a sawmill about halfway up CR 12, which is why there is so much logging truck traffic. As shown in the video, there are several spots with bridges where you can take a break on a guardrail, away from traffic.
The store at CR 333 is defunct, but TJ’s at Lake Mystic has snacks, drinks, and hot meals. Look for the Citgo sign. Once you are north of TJ’s and the Bristol Baptist Church, a sidewalk appears on the west side of the highway. Make use of it to get to SR 20, which you follow west to the river. Sidewalks run briefly along SR 20 towards the Trammel Bridge.
The Apalachee Restaurant offers regular AYCE buffets and is a favorite of long distance hikers traversing the Florida Trail.
NORTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Apalachicola River
SOUTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Camel Lake to Savannah