Preserved as Choctawhatchee National Forest in 1909, the same time the Ocala National Forest was created, 640 square miles of woodlands stretching west from US 331 to East Bay near Pensacola has been Eglin Air Force Base since it was transferred to military control during World War II.
Although one of the top bomb testing sites in the United States, Eglin AFB has continued to protect the old-growth forests and their inhabitants – including one of the largest red-cockaded woodpecker populations remaining in the Southeast – as well as provide opportunities for recreation.
The Florida Trail traverses deeply folded terrain carved by creeks as it stays close to the outer edge of this military reservation’s borders along one of the most challenging and satisfying sections of the trail for backpackers.
Leaving Eglin for a roadwalk through the city of Crestview, the trail then dips into the Yellow River Ravines, a rugged traverse through steepheads and bayheads on the north side of the river. The final section inside the military reservation is through sandhills and steepheads near East Bay.
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Guthook Guides GPS-driven map-based guide to the Florida National Scenic Trail with thousands of waypoints from The Florida Trail Guide. Works offline. For iPhone and Android.
All hikers must have a permit in advance of arriving at Eglin Air Force Base. Eglin now has a FREE permit for thru-hikers. Day hikers and section hikers not continuing at least 50 miles beyond Eglin must obtain the standard $20 annual Outdoor Recreation permit. No permit is needed to hike the Yellow River Ravines. Obtain your permit online.
Before your hike, call 850-882-4164 or check the Public Access Map online to ensure the base is open: FPCON DELTA status means the base is closed to public access.
Eglin Air Force Base is an active military base. 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. Stay on the trail and in designated campsites; do not venture off the trail corridor.
Wear a bright orange shirt or vest during hunting seasons. Check the Eglin iSportsman website for hunting season dates in Eglin, and the FWC website for Yellow River Ravines.
12.8 miles. With significant botanical beauty, rugged climbs, and nice campsites, the Alaqua section of the Florida Trail in Eglin Air Force Base is one of the most scenic parts of the trail statewide.
14.2 miles. Climbing to the highest elevations along the Florida Trail, the challenging Catface section traverses hilly terrain along the northern edge of Eglin Air Force Base.
41.8 miles. Simultaneously rugged and scenic: that’s the beauty of a backpacking trip across the Alaqua, Catface, and Titi sections of the Florida Trail in Eglin Air Force Base.
14.8 miles. Paralleling the floodplain of Titi Creek and its tributaries, this hike on the Florida Trail across Eglin will surprise you with its mature longleaf pine forests and its steep descents into creek basins.
14.3 miles. Along the western side of Eglin Air Force Base, the Florida Trail traverses high, dry sandhills with some impressive views.