The Seashore section, which includes Gulf Islands National Seashore as well as the Pensacola Bike Path, the Navarre Bike Path, and the wild and scenic UWF Dunes Preserve, is the southernmost National Scenic Trail with beach walking. The Florida Trail leads you onto the sparkling shores of Santa Rosa Island, a barrier island along the Gulf of Mexico between Navarre and Pensacola.
This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. The glistening sugar-white sands of Santa Rosa Island are a counterpoint to the emerald sea as you approach trail’s end, the northern terminus at Fort Pickens on Pensacola Bay, a fitting place to complete a grand adventure.
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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.
Pedestrian fee of $10, vehicle fee $20, good for 7 days, to enter Fort Pickens Unit of Gulf Islands National Seashore. If you are completing a thru hike or a section hike, check inside the Fort at the Gift Shop to sign the trail register.
Random camping is not permitted in this section. Make use of the free Bayview Campsite at mile 1086.1, and reserve a tent site at Fort Pickens Campground near the northern terminus. Hotels are available in Navarre and Pensacola Beach. Paradise Inn is a hiker favorite because of its funky vibe, tiki bar with live music, and low rates compared to area chains.
There is no fresh surface water on Santa Rosa Island. Obtain water at parks and stores. There are long stretches without any water available. There is no fresh water near Bayview Campsite, so be sure you bring plenty.
Dogs are not permitted on the beaches of Gulf Islands National Seashore, including Santa Rosa Area, Opal Beach, and Fort Pickens.
Most of the route has no shade and plenty of reflection from white sands. Sun protection is a must.
To get to or from the terminus from Pensacola, the easiest option is to pre-arrange a shuttle. Taxi, Uber, and Lyft services are all available in Pensacola. You may have to pay the shuttle driver’s entrance fee to Gulf Islands National Seashore if they don’t have a pass. Ask before booking. You can also check on the Florida Trail Hikers Facebook page for local volunteers who can help.
Pensacola ECAT buses run Route 61 to Pensacola Beach multiple times a day. Check this page for Route 61 schedule and transit map. It does not enter Gulf Islands National Seashore but it gets you close to the gates. You could try a combination of bus + Uber to get you to the terminus.
During the summer, a ferry service connects downtown Pensacola and Fort Pickens daily. Summer is a brutal time to hike the beach unless you do it at dusk or dawn.
From May 24 to Sep 2, Pensacola Beach also has a trolley service, but it doesn’t enter the gates of Fort Pickens.
6.9 miles. At the westernmost tip of Santa Rosa Island, the Florida Trail comes to its Northern Terminus in the shadow of the most important historic sites in Northwest Florida, Fort Pickens.