MOST RECENT UPDATE: 6/14/2019
As a service to our readers, we do our best to keep on top of changes to the Florida Trail and its services as they happen. For the past year, we’ve posted updates as soon as we learn about them on our Facebook page for The Florida Trail Guide. This master list isn’t updated as frequently, but we like to be comprehensive when we do so.
Our updates come from a variety of sources, including hikers on the trail, trail maintainers, government agencies, business owners, and from the Florida Trail Association, which maintains the official list of known closures and notices from land managers. And, of course, we research changes to the trail and its services ourselves on a regular basis in order to maintain our Florida National Scenic Trail app for Guthook Guides, where updates are posted frequently.
The following trail updates are keyed to the pages of the current edition of The Florida Trail Guide. If you own an older edition, we encourage you to get a current edition (third edition) since there have been many major trail relocations over the past five years. Please print this off as an addendum to your guidebook or make corrections in the book. We won’t mind if you write in it.
Since some major segments of trail are still in flux regards route changes, we will not be publishing the 4th edition of The Florida Trail Guide until Fall 2020 at the soonest.
UPDATES BY EMAIL Even if you’ve never bought our guidebook, you can join our Florida Trail mailing list for periodic trail updates. If you have bought a guidebook, we add you to the mailing list automatically.
Cumulative updates to
The Florida Trail Guide, Third Edition
Jump to a particular trail section
The Florida Trail Association office has moved! Their new address is 1050 NW 2 Street, Suite A, Gainesville, FL 32601. Phone numbers and email remain the same.
Since we released this book in October 2017, quite a few of the government agencies we reference have changed their URLs and so URLs provided no longer work. For updated links to information on hunting seasons and flood gauges, dig into the newly revised Florida Trail section of our website.
Guthook Guides: While we try to keep the route of the trail in our Guthook Guide to the Florida National Scenic Trail up-to-date at all times, our waypoint and service information is updated in batches. So far in 2019, we have added a lot of new waypoints and photos to South Florida, Suwannee Big Bend, and Western Panhandle, with minor updates made in other regions as well. Eastern Panhandle and updates to links for water gauges and hunting seasons are next on the agenda. We’ve been building town guides in the app as well, to make it easier to find services in a town.
For 2019, Eglin Air Force Base has established a new protocol for Florida Trail thru-hiker permits. They can no longer be obtained online. Eglin defines a thru-hiker as a hiker whose journey originates 50 miles or more beyond their boundaries. See the Eglin section below for full instructions on how to get a permit.
Water levels were unseasonably low in 2019 until a few days before Sandra hiked across Big Cypress at the end of January, finally completing her end-to-end hike of the Florida Trail.
John initially crossed Big Cypress in 2013 to describe it for our book and to get the GPS track we used for our maps and app. Based on hiker feedback on difficulty in finding water, we have added dozens of new waypoints to our app, mostly having to do with reliability of water sources. While the Black Lagoon at mile 22.8 remained reliable, there are also deeper ponds you can check at mile 12.1 and mile 13.1. Where alligator flag – a tall, slender leafed plant – grows in the swamp, water is at its deepest.
Work is underway to replace the old mileage markers in the swamp with new ones. We’ve noted the locations of MM 1 through 16 in the app. North of that point you encounter the old markers. Subtract 6 miles from the old markers to roughly guess where you are.
p. 29, mile 0 . there is a new weatherproof mailbox at Oasis Ranger Station with the trail register inside it. Be sure to sign in!
Mile 15.5 . After you leave a prairie and start walking on limestone, be very alert for a water-filled sinkhole adjoining the trail. An aggressive alligator has taken residence in it.
p. 30, mile 20.1 . There is actually one more piece of dry ground where you might be able to set up a tent in the next quarter mile. But when you see the old 27 Mile Marker at mile 20.9, that’s it. The next 7.8 miles of trail are IN THE SWAMP. There is NO dry land except Oak Hill at 22.7, Ivy Camp at 26.8, and one other small island at 26.3. If it’s not water, it’s mud.
Mile 29. Space for a tent, maybe, at the north end of the linear island that’s a tunnel of tropical forest.
Mile 31. There is now an I-75 North Rest Area as well as a rest area on the south side of the Interstate. We recommend using the North Rest Area now as it has less traffic and the same amenities, including vending machines with ice cream and coffee.
p. 36, mile 57.6. North of the L-3 Canal Bridge, there may be dike reconstruction going on. If so, the Deer Fence trailhead will be closed and a reroute will be posted on the trail. It is blazed white and sends you way out into the water retention areas on a different levee for 13 miles before rejoining the Florida Trail at mile 68.1. See this FTA Notice to Hikers for details.
p. 36, mile 66.2, STA 5/6. A pitcher pump has been added at the picnic shelter at STA 5/6. See FTA Notice to Hikers.
p. 36, mile 94.3, Lake Harbor. Good news! Dike reconstruction is done in this area and the trail has reopened both east and west from John Stretch Park.
For a comprehensive look at what is open and what is closed regards dike reconstruction around Lake Okeechobee, please our state of the trail report from our trip around the lake the end of November 2018.
ALL spigots on the outside of the locks and water control structures atop the dike pull directly from the lake. Water MUST be treated from spigots.
p. 43, Okeechobee Landings. They are no longer accepting tent campers.
p. 43, mile 104.3, Levee Park. The Florida Trail is closed between Levee Park and Liberty Point. You must roadwalk around it via US 27 north through Clewiston. Follow the Alternate Roadwalk on the top of p. 44 with one change: turn off on the access road with SFWMD signage (mile 6.2) and follow that road back to the dike. Turn left to continue north to Liberty Point. This alternate route is shown in our app.
p. 44, Uncle Joe’s Fish Camp. The trail has reopened between Uncle Joe’s and Alvin Ward Park.
p. 44, Alvin Ward Park. While camping is not allowed in the park, there are places you can camp between the palms just shy of the park boundary.
p. 45, Alternate Roadwalk. The dike between Moore Haven and Nicodemus Slough is still under construction, so you must follow this roadwalk.
p. 46, LAKEPORT. A restaurant has opened in the old Marina plaza along SR 78. Beck’s Store is now under new ownership but has the same grill and minor resupply.
p. 47, mile 132.6, Margaret Van de Velde Park. The observation platform at the end of the park with its great lake views is gone and no effort appears to be underway to replace it.
p. 47, mile 140.3, Indian Prairie Primitive Campground. Glades County appears to have abandoned this facility as it is overgrown and the gates are locked.
p. 48, mile 150.6, Okee-tantie. While the public park and campground remain closed and Lightsey’s Restaurant moved into Okeechobee, the marina remains open.
IMPORTANT: After two years of closures, the Florida Trail has finally reopened for foot traffic north from Okee-tantie. It is no longer necessary to roadwalk through Okeechobee.
p. 53, mile 99.9, South Bay Recreation Area. The trail is closed north of here all the way to mile 105.5 at Rardin Park. After that, there are intermittent closures preventing you from hiking through to mile 121.5. If you look at a road map, trying to roadwalk around these closures adds at least 35% to that distance, maybe more. The roads also walk you through the most economically depressed communities in Palm Beach County. We still recommend using the west side for a thru-hike.
p. 53, SOUTH BAY. New services include a Pilot truck stop with hot food and deli, showers, and fresh fruit; and a Dollar General along SR 80 just east of the traffic light with US 27.
p. 56, mile 121.5, NENA trailhead. The trailhead now connects to the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail via a road leading down off the dike to the trailhead. The trail is now open between mile 121.5 and 123.8 at Port Mayaca Recreation Area.
p. 56, mile 142.9, Nubbin Slough. It is necessary to leave the dike and roadwalk up US 441 per the Alternate Roadwalk provided. Rejoin the trail at mile 145.
p. 69, mile 150.8. The dike has finally reopened for foot traffic north from Okee-tantie. It is no longer necessary to roadwalk through Okeechobee.
p. 63 chart, mile 195.6. The ranch fence has been moved in farther away from the bluff to offer some relief from teetering on the edge of the slough. Please respect this private property and do not hop the fence.
p. 65 chart, mile 204. A pitcher pump has been installed at Cowboy Crossing Campsite. Filter water.
p. 70, Cracker Trail Country Store. Updated phone number 863-763-0653. Open 6-2 Mon-Sat, 8-6 Sun. IMPORTANT: Do NOT trespass through private property to make a beeline to the store. Use US 98 from either spot where the trail crosses it, east or west of Basinger.
p. 70, Micco Landing Trailhead. On 3/31/18, the 11.3-mile Micco section opened as a footpath through palm hammocks, pasture, and slough along the Kissimmee River. It connects from US 98 to the Oak Creek trailhead along Micco Landing Rd. The blazes along that road are now painted white as an alternate route in times of high water. This permanent reroute cuts the roadwalk to 2.5 miles between Oak Creek and Starvation Slough trailheads. Trail maintainers warn us that alligators are seen all along the banks of the Kissimmee River as you near Oak Creek, and cluster in the lake that is the best water source for Oak Creek campsite. Use caution when obtaining water.
p. 73, High Water Route. Hikers report that the trail has been relocated to this higher, drier track to the east of the original FT route; however, also that it is not easy to follow if it hasn’t been mowed or compacted by a park vehicle, as the blazes vanish quickly northbound.
p. 73, Duck Slough. Now that a new pitcher pump has been installed at the Cowboy Crossing campsite, skip Duck Slough and use that instead as your water source instead.
The Florida Trail will be closed between Kissimmee Prairie Preserve visitor center and the north boundary of the park for most of the month of March 2019 due to a culvert repair. This impacts all thru hikers and section hikers. The closure will start around Mar 11. See FTA Notice to Hikers
p. 73, Pine Island Slough Campsite. A pitcher pump has been installed at the campsite. Filter water.
p. 74, Kissimmee Prairie. Due to a flood-induced breach in the dike that the Florida Trail followed along the Kissimmee River, the trail has been permanent rerouted before you get to Pine Island Slough. It now continues due north to the park boundary fence and follows it due west, also skipping the “Junction of park roads.” The Pine Island Slough campsite has been relocated to an oak hammock adjoining the slough at the new crossing, which serves as a water source.
Please see this FTA Notice to Hikers for the new route.
p. 74, S-65A Lock. No more need to call ahead to request access! Per this FTA Notice to Hikers, there are now pedestrian gates on both sides of the lock and you may use them on your own (provided the lock isn’t in operation) during the following hours: Mon-Fri 7 AM-6 PM, Sat-Sun 5:30 AM-7:30 PM (Mar-Oct), 5:30 AM-6:30 PM (Nov-Feb)
p. 76, River Ranch. MAILDROPS: Maildrops are held at the Mustang building at the south end of the road by the RV park. Package pickup hours are 9-4 Mon-Thu & Sat, 9-6 Fri, 9-1 Sun. Call 863-692-1116 to confirm before sending a maildrop. USPS is fine. Mail to: HIKER NAME c/o River Ranch RV, 30529 River Ranch Blvd, River Ranch FL 33867.
SERVICES: River Ranch has added a Starbucks with baristas to the General Store. The Smokehouse, their restaurant over by the marina, has excellent burgers and barbecue. CAMPING: Tent sites are now $48.00 per night on weekends and holidays. According to Ray Duncan, General Manager, “I can extend a special mid-week price to the hikers of $30 per night Mon-Thu (excluding any holiday) if they book at the front desk and tell us they are hikers. Any group larger than 5 tents should call the resort directly prior to arriving for reservations.” Call them at 863-692-1321.
p. 76, mile 234.9. Hikers report the next segment up to Mile 239.5 at SR 60 as very overgrown.
As we suspected from driving this stretch of highway so many times, the SR 60 roadwalk is indeed the toughest and most terrifying of the roadwalks on the Florida Trail, even when tackled on a Sunday morning. What’s missing from this video? More than 300 cars, semis, and RVs passing by along the two hour walk. Filming was during the lulls between traffic bursts. We couldn’t stay on the shoulder for more than 50-100 steps between vehicles. We’d like to see replacing THIS roadwalk take priority in the master plan for the FNST.
p. 77, mile 237.7. Walk down the entrance road into the parking area for Osceola FMA. Look for a beaten path uphill towards SR 60. Climb up and you will see a sidewalk below along the river. Climb down to it. The sidewalk leads under the SR 60 bridge to a ramp to get you up to the pedestrian walkway on the highway bridge.
p. 78, Prairie Lakes. Unless you’re thru-hiking the Florida Trail, it’s necessary to obtain a free permit for camping at Dry Pond and Parker Hammock in Prairie Lakes. It’s always necessary to get a free permit for the Lake Jackson Campground, which is vehicle-accessible. Call FWC at 352-732-1225. Parker Hammock has a pitcher pump. The pitcher pump at Dry Pond is unreliable.
p. 91, mile 274.3, Forever Florida. Dogs are NOT permitted at the trailhead or on the blue trail from the trailhead to the FNST.
p. 91, mile 278.4. To reserve a spot at the campsite, call 407-957-9794. Mention you are a Florida Trail Association member. “Illahaw Camp” is an incorrect name. Forever Florida staff call this campsite “Tracey Branch” or TBO or “Remote Campsite.”
p. 92, mile 296.5, Deer Park Road. Deer Park Road is officially closed pending repairs on two highway bridges. Please see this FTA Notice to Hikers. An alternate route is suggested here. While vehicles can’t now cross Deseret except on private roads, 2019 hikers report that they have been able to get through to Nova Rd on foot.
p. 92, mile 304.7, Wolf Creek. The highway bridge is blocked off to vehicular traffic by Jersey barriers but hikers have still been able to cross it.
p. 92, mile 309.7, Nova Road. Water is accessible from the NW side of the Cox Creek bridge, but beware that it may be tainted with biosolids runoff. Taylor Creek has a better flow and comes out of a reservoir that supplies the City of Cocoa Water Treatment plant, so you may want to stock up on water there at mile 314.6.
p. 94, mile 326.6, Tiger Branch campsite. Tent platforms have been added.
p. 97, Snow Hill Road. A temporary closure is in place in Little Big Econ State Forest due to bridge decking replacement over the Econ River, now underway. Please see this FTA Notice to Hikers for the alternate route following Snow Hill Road north.
p. 97, mile 364.1, Lockwood Blvd. A small trailhead corral has been added to the trail crossing at Lockwood Blvd. Parallel parking for three cars.
p. 98, Franklin Street. Because of new development in the area, the Florida Trail has been permanently moved to follow Franklin Street west through Oviedo, joining the Cross Seminole Trail after you cross SR 434. This moves the trail away from services that you previously walked past in Oviedo. Northbound, you will need to turn left at either Geneva Dr or Central Ave to walk up to the plaza with the post office, Ace Hardware, and restaurants. To reach the Townhouse Restaurant, turn left when you reach the Cross Seminole Trail. This area has been reblazed.
p. 99, Winter Springs. The “unmarked but obvious path” has been obliterated along with everything else in sight as relentless urbanization continues. Line of sight, you should be able to see the shopping center as you come to the curve in the trail. Getting to it may be tricky due to construction vehicles and fences. If so, use Tuscawilla Road as your access point.
p. 100, mile 375, Spring Hammock Preserve. A new campsite has been added in Spring Hammock, making it possible to complete the urban Cross Seminole Trail without a hotel stay. Access is via blue blazed trail just south of the bridge over the creek. It is for section and thru-hikers only. Before camping there, call the Florida Trail Association and leave your name, number, and date you plan to use it.
p. 104, mile 388.4, Lower Wekiva Preserve State Park. The Florida Trail has been obliterated in the west end of this state park as construction for the Wekiva Parkway is tearing out a vast swath of public land. Follow the shoulder of SR 46 from the traffic light at this trailhead to resume the trail route at Wekiva Park Drive. Ongoing toll road and bridge construction makes this area difficult to traverse.
p. 105, mile 397.8, Cassia trailhead. Permanent addition of vault toilet replaces the portalet.
Along the roadwalk between Cassia Trailhead and Royal Trails, Annette Codding at Cassia Fresh Farm – the farm with the sign “brown eggs for sale” at 30242 SR 44 – has been helping out hikers with shuttles, food, and sometimes even a place to stay. 352-589-0577.
Work is nearly complete to replace the SR 44 roadwalk with a new stretch of trail on the north side of SR 44. This new section should officially open in October.
p. 106, PAISLEY. A long distance hiker reported being threatened with arrest when charging a phone outside the Dollar General after making purchases. Do not charge your phone there. Visit the library across the street and ask first.
A new restaurant, Palermo’s Pizza, has opened at the south end of town, closest to the trail. 24929 CR 42, 352-771-0220. Old-timers may recall this as the location of the popular restaurant Big Oak Italian.
p. 113, mile 410.4, Clearwater Lake. Two 2018 season hikers reported being harassed along this stretch of the trail between Paisley and Alexander Springs, particularly when making camp and after dark. This section of trail runs very close to homes. It’s safest to camp at or near the recreation areas.
p. 114-115, mile 436.8 to 447, Juniper Prairie Wilderness. While Juniper Prairie Wilderness has been reopened, no camping is currently allowed there.
p. 114, mile 443.7, Hidden Pond. Because of overuse of this location the Forest Service has closed it to camping. You may still stop here for water, as the spring-fed pond is an important water source along this portion of the trail. Bears frequent this area.
p. 117, mile 458.6, CR 14. Chuck Norris is no longer assisting hikers in this area as he and Tigger are retired and living the nomadic hiker life.
p. 118, mile 478, Rodman Campground. Several 2019 season hikers have shown up and discovered their maildrops were refused by someone working at the campground. Until the problem is figured out, don’t ship here.
p. 118, mile 482.5, St. Johns South Camping Area. Hikers report that the water from the pitcher pump is awful. Better to pass through the Buckman Lock gate (south side) and find the tap.
p. 146, mile 359.7, Devil’s Creek. Hikers report high water here on a regular basis. May be unsafe to cross.
Hikers should be aware that the trail has been relocated in the north end of Richloam, north of the junction to the Richloam trailhead. This Notice to Hikers from FTA explains the route change.
p. 149, mile 390.2, Perry Oldenburg trailhead. The Deer Run Rd roadwalk has been eliminated. Leaving the trailhead, the blazes now take you into a field to parallel the former roadwalk. After the trail crosses the road, it makes a diagonal across a stretch of woods containing a new designated primitive campsite, an important stop before Chinsegut WEA, where camping is not permitted.
p. 156, mile 448.5, SR 200. Signs have been posted to tell vehicles not to park along the highway at this trail crossing. There is also signage about upcoming road construction. If it is impossible to cross SR 200 due to construction, use the blue-blazed trail into and out of Ross Prairie trailhead as a bypass.
Once you’re across SR 200 and back in the woods, there is a new picnic table at an intersection with a new paved bike path that extends from here to Santos and parallels the Florida Trail. You will meet it and cross it in several spots, including sharing it under road underpasses and across the Land Bridge over I-75.
p. 156, mile 448.8, Ross Prairie trailhead. Signs in the restrooms indicate that you must now pay for use of the showers if you are not paying to camp at the campground at this trailhead.
p. 163, mile 481.3, NUBY’S CORNER. There is a new Dollar General within an easy walk of the SR 40 trail crossing and a new BBQ restaurant. North of this point, a reroute has made passage through Hulls Creek Swamp easier. New boardwalks have been installed over the next 8 miles northbound, making for a much more pleasant hike.
p. 165, mile 483.7, SR 19. The trail has been relocated off Plum Creek Timberlands into an adjacent parcel of private property. Follow blazes and signage. Some swamps are bridged. You rejoin the original route within 4 miles, just before entering Caravelle Ranch WMA.
p. 177, mile 490.6, SR 20. The reroute at the north end of this section leads you to a gate facing SR 20. Between the gate and the road is a deep ditch with no bridge. There is no way around it but to go through it and get very wet. The trail continues north through the north gate, past the DOT drainage area. The former SR 20 trailhead to the east appears to be abandoned.
p. 179, mile 496.2, SR 100. Bike path construction is complete. Cross SR 100 and follow the orange blazes to scramble up to the new paved bike path. Follow it north (compass W) to Carraway. Because of the construction technique used to build this new bridge over Rice Creek, there is no longer any way to reach Rice Creek to filter water.
p. 181, mile 507.1, Co-champion loblolly bay. Skip the side trip. The mighty tree has fallen.
p. 181, mile 509.4, Longleaf Pine Trail. Due to logging in the forest, the trail has been relocated from the south intersection with the Longleaf Pine Trail northbound for a stretch, steering you closer to a water source in a sinkhole at 29.7770,-81.8719.
p. 181, mile 519.9, Sandhill Camping Area. This campground is actually called is actually Turkey Oak Camping Area and has tent sites. Sandhill Camping Area is for RVs only.
p. 182, Keystone Heights. Water is accessible at Alligator Creek along Immokalee Rd at 29.8091, -82.0329 along the Keystone Heights roadwalk.
p. 184, mile 541.1, Bobbie Shepherd Park. Hikers report water from spigot is usable. Picnic tables and trash can have been added.
p. 187, LAKE BUTLER. The city’s free camping program inside Union Station has been discontinued. You can still inquire about camping near City Hall or at Lake Side Park. Stop in at City Hall to sign the hiker register and talk to Sara.
p. 190, mile 589.9, Ocean Pond. Mother Goose and Jim are no longer the camp hosts, and the new camp hosts are reportedly not as accommodating to hikers.
p. 199, mile 609.1, NW Cansa Rd. The potential TRAIL RELOCATION has occurred, and it’s a beauty. Follow the blazes down the forest road to enjoy the new Big Shoals to Bell Springs section. You only need to use the old route past Madison Shelter if the river is flooding. Same applies at the other end, mile 614.8 at Bell Springs trailhead: the blue-blazed spur is now the orange-blazed thru trail.
p. 202, mile 627.4, Sal Marie Branch. The bridge is broken and you must wade across.
p. 203, mile 631.1, Interstate 75. New designated campsite with fire ring and camping sign north of the Interstate at 30.3434, -82.8418.
p. 205, mile 646.8, Suwannee River whirlpool. Benches and a table added 0.1N.
p. 209, mile 679.5, Mill Creek North campsite. Follow the old boat ramp trail past some broken pavement. When you get to the river look to the left and you’ll see a bubbling spring. Good water source.
Sandra hiked the Suwannee to Aucilla roadwalk January 2019. It’s the longest roadwalk along the Florida Trail but was for the most part very rural and pleasant. Here’s what it looks like.
p. 221, mile 689.1, Midway Baptist Church. Pastor Matt Thompson and his wife Devin have reached out to our trail community to let hikers know that Midway Baptist Church welcomes hikers. Says the pastor, “you are more than welcome to have a break, refill your water, charge devices, or camp if you like.” They are along the 48.4-mile roadwalk off this mile marker. Contact Pastor Matt by phone or text at 850-253-5042.
p. 225, mile 720.6, US 27. Both the Eridu County Store (850-223-0036) and Walker’s Pecan House (850-997-2088) have reopened along US 27, so we’ve added them back into the app. Eridu County Store is 1.7S and Walker’s Pecan House is 2.4N (best reached via the less-traffic Mt Olive Church Rd from mile 718 vs walking up US 27). Both offer grilled food and very minor resupply, mostly snacks (and in Walker’s case, lots and lots of nuts!). However, Walker’s has covered picnic tables out front and a campground on site, $10. Call ahead to check on hours for the grill.
p. 225, mile 724.5, Mt. Gilead Rd. Watch for new “Road Closed to Vehicles” signage on E side of road indicating public land managed by Suwannee River WMD. There are flat areas on an old road and in the woods usable for random camping, with a cypress swamp for water on the S side of the road.
p. 225, mile 726.6, Mt. Gilead Tract trailhead. We followed the blue blazes to the campsite and discovered it’s 0.8 mile from the trailhead, not 0.3. It’s tucked deep in the woods and has no amenities except signage and a nearby water source. But it is somewhere vehicles can’t drive near.
p. 226, mile 728.6, CR 14. In January 2019, the gate was missing and the forest was entirely clearcut where the trail turns off CR 14 to head to Aucilla WMA. An FNST sign is still visible in the vast empty plain.
p. 230, mile 756.5, Swamp Hammock Trail. The Florida Trail has been relocated to its original route, which was signposted as the Swamp Hammock Trail on our last visit. It leaves the forest road levee to follow the blazes through three miles of lush palm hammocks. You miss the junction with the Deep Creek Trail along this route, but gain a beautiful walk. This area still can flood, so use the forest roads as an alternate route or if you need to reach the Deep Creek junction. This relocation continues through mile 759, where the orange blazes rejoin the forest road at a bench.
p. 233, mile 769.8, St. Marks River. If you are staying at Shell Island Fish Camp they will ferry you for free (we encourage tipping the captain), otherwise there is a $25 fee. Shields Marina sits within sight of the crossing (upriver) and might ferry just for tips: 850-925-5612.
p. 234, mile 772.7, US 98. As we noted in our warning about FDOT Bike Path, the new paved Coastal Trail is now open. From signage and blazing by following it ourselves, we’ve determined that the Florida Trail no longer weaves in and out of the woods off US 98 as it did when we hiked it last. It now follows this paved path compass west from the St. Marks Trail privy junction north of US 98 to just shy of the Thompson House trailhead at mile 775.1. We have seen no official notice from FTA confirming this route change.
p. 235, mile 788.3, Spring Creek Hwy. Spring Creek Restaurant was destroyed by a storm surge during Hurricane Michael and will not reopen. The SPRING CREEK ROADWALK is still in effect as there is still no forward motion on getting those replacement boardwalks in. We’ve added the roadwalk to the app as a blue line. It is 5.1 miles long. Here’s what it looks like SOBO.
NOBO, take Spring Creek Hwy 0.2N to Jack Crum Rd, a lightly traveled high speed paved road with no shoulders to speak of. Water source at a flowing stream at 0.6N. Reach Purify Bay Rd after 3.6N. If you are in need of RESUPPLY turn right and walk 0.2E to Medart, where there is a Dollar General and a new Rocky’s, which has a wide array of excellent resupply foods and a hot grill serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Otherwise turn left to continue back to the FT inside St. Marks NWR. When you see the orange blazes close to you on the right, you can get over to them at an old forest road.
Much volunteer effort has gone into cleaning up the Apalachicola National Forest after Hurricane Michael. Please report any damaged boardwalks or bridges or camping infrastructure to to FTA Regional Representative Adam Fryska by email or at 850-888-3502.
p. 249, mile 827.1, Smith Creek. Trail access blocked by lost access to private land along Smith Creek so the trail no longer turns into the woods here. That means you’ll have to roadwalk north along CR 329 (Smith Creek Rd) to FR 13 to rejoin the trail route crossing the Ochlockonee River.
p. 249, mile 829.3, Porter Lake. Porter Lake Recreation Area is presently closed to campers.
Mile 854.3, Bonnet Pond Campsite. A new designated primitive campsite has been established with Bonnet Pond as its closest reliable water source. It includes benches and a fire ring. Once again, thanks to Mike Tucker for making it happen.
p. 253, mile 858.4, Camel Lake. Camel Lake Recreation Area is presently closed. This includes all vehicle access to the campground. Necessary re-grading of the roads around it is underway with heavy construction equipment on the access road.
In our opinion, the CR 12 roadwalk to Bristol is the second most dangerous in the state after the SR 60 roadwalk because of frequent high-speed trucks – bringing logs into and lumber out of a sawmill that you will pass – and no bike lane. It is particularly bad between the Apalachicola National Forest and CR 333. Here’s a look.
p. 253, mile 865.4, CR 333. Caz’s Bait & Tackle has closed.
p. 253, mile 870.9, Citgo Station. TJs Fillin’ Station has a hot grill with ribs, chicken, burgers, and sides. Very limited resupply.
p. 253, mile 873.3, Veterans Memorial Park. The Harrell Memorial Library has moved into the building at the front of the park. Same hours.
p. 253, mile 873.6, Harrell Memorial Library. The library has closed at this location.
p. 254, BRISTOL. Bristol took a glancing blow from Hurricane Michael. All services are open, but it is highly unlikely you can get a room at the Snowbird Motel as it is filled with displaced residents and hurricane workers. Call ahead.
HURRICANE MICHAEL IMPACTS: In October 2018, this region suffered winds of just under 150 mph and it shows. Debris, ripped apart homes, and trees fallen like matchsticks are everywhere. Debris collection is ongoing, which means large trucks on the roadwalks. The ALTHA and ECONFINA CREEK sections are closed for this season due to the amount of work that will need to happen to re-establish the trail through forests flattened by the hurricane. This region already had a lot of roadwalks, and now you will roadwalk from mile 863.7 to mile 936.4. We suggest you follow the trail route vs. SR 20 because SR 20 between Blountstown and Youngstown is a very busy artery between Tallahassee and heavily-impacted Panama City; hurricane recovery workers have to drive it daily.
Blountstown and Altha took direct hits. The tree canopy over the Blountstown Greenway is gone and many businesses were damaged. The Shelton’s Store, a favorite of hikers, will not reopen. The Ebro Motel is booked up by hurricane recovery workers so finding a room there may be impossible.
p. 263, mile 876.5, MJs Diner. MJs Diner has closed. The nearby Airport Motel is battered but was spared. Call ahead, as rooms in this area are hard to come by due to the number of displaced residents.
p. 263, mile 877.6, Blountstown Greenway. The greenway is fully open to SR 71 but has no tree canopy and the pavement is pretty much hidden by a thick layer of mud and compressed debris. Depot Park restrooms and the museum are open.
p. 264, BLOUNTSTOWN. The Blountstown Post Office cannot accept maildrops as they are operating out of a temporary trailer. El Jalisco is open but Main Street Station, Parramores, The Callahan, and King House are closed. Connelly’s (formerly Connies) downtown is open. Harvey’s Supermarkets have changed names.
p. 264, mile 878.3, Sam Atkins Park. The park is battered but open with functioning restrooms. At the PANHANDLE PIONEER SETTLEMENT, we met with Willard Smith, the founder and operator. They took quite a hit but the place is swarming with volunteers fixing it up. They cannot offer cabin space but he warmly welcomes hikers to come camp here, and it’s the only place in town you can do so. Please stop in the office or call in advance to check in with them, 850-674-2777.
Here’s a look at the SR 71 roadwalk between Blountstown and Altha with hurricane debris.
p. 264, mile 886.3, CR 275. The Chevron Food Mart at the corner is open. The Altha section is closed due to hurricane damage. Follow the instructions (or blue line on the app) for FLOODING ALTERNATE ROUTE to bypass Altha.
p. 265, mile 889.2, Altha Trailhead. The trailhead is usable and there is still a picnic table.
The Chipola West roadwalk from Altha to Econfina is another challenging one because of the lack of bike lane and high-speed traffic. Fortunately, much of it has paralleling flat land to walk on.
p. 266, mile 890.9, Shelton’s Corner. Shelton’s Store was severely damaged by the hurricane and will not reopen. We’re saddened to report that both Mrs. Shelton and her son passed away in the past year. Shelton Park & Library is open and still usable for camping.
p. 266, mile 895.4, Hillcrest Baptist Church . Pastor Charles and his outreach director Will “Gentle Giant” Quattlebaum welcome hikers as a part of the church’s mission. There are now signs out front to call your attention to the church as a designated campsite. They provide shelter, water, showers, and electricity. While they ask for nothing in return, we’re sure donations would be appreciated.
p. 266, mile 902.8, CR 167. Because the Econfina Creek section is closed due to hurricane damage, you’ll need to roadwalk around it. Turn left here NOBO to walk out to the Dollar General at US 331. Follow US 331S through Fountain. Other than Pine Lake RV, all services are on the west side of the highway. There is a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, Dollar General, and Family Dollar. Stealth camping is not possible along US 331 but there are two churches and several small businesses you could check in with. Join SR 20W at Youngstown, where there is a small truck stop with a Hardees just south of the US 331 / SR 20 junction. With no commercial development along SR 20, it would be possible to find a quiet place to tuck in off the north side of the highway, particularly on one of the pieces of public land that are prominently posted as part of Northwest Florida Water Management District land.
p. 270, mile 923.8, SR 20 trailhead. Once in the woods, it’s now entirely in the open. It is available for parking. The SR 20 roadwalk from here to Pine Log (mile 936.4) was not as bad as expected thanks to broad shoulders and utility easements.
p. 270, mile 927.9, SR 77. Hikers report that the new owners do not allow camping on the property.
p. 270, mile 936.4, Leave SR 20. Enter power line access corridor to Pine Log. As this section of trail through Pine Log to the Choctawhatchee River suffered hurricane-related downing of trees, use caution. Please report any damaged boardwalks, bridges, or tangled messes to FTA Regional Representative Adam Fryska by email or at 850-888-3502.
p. 271, mile 943, Sand Pond Campground. Camping reservations for Sand Pond Campground are now required in advance through Reserve America by phone at 1-800-456-2267 or online
p. 272, EBRO. The Ebro Motel has been sold and the new owner is not offering a discount. He told us he is booked up with hurricane restoration workers for the next year, so call ahead before walking up here.
p. 284, Permits. For 2019, Eglin Air Force Base has established a new protocol for Florida Trail thru-hiker permits. They can no longer be obtained online. Eglin defines a thru-hiker as a hiker whose journey originates 50 miles or more beyond their boundaries.
1) Create an iSportsman account in advance of your hike and be sure to have finished the process of reviewing the safety videos and taking the quiz.
2) Three days before you arrive on base, call the Jackson Guard office at 850-882-4165 or 850-882-4166. The office is only open on weekdays and closed on Federal holidays.
3) Once the Jackson Guard has reviewed the Public Access Map (PAM) for the upcoming three days to ensure that the Florida Trail is open, they will electronically issue a free permit to your iSportsman account.
4) You must have this permit with you in the event you are stopped by base personnel. If you have a smartphone, make a screenshot and save it to your phone. If you do not, you will need to print a copy off at a library or other public computer before you arrive.
If you are not a thru-hiker, when you complete step 1, purchase your annual Outdoor Recreation permit. If you are backpacking, you will also need to purchase camping permits.
p. 285, mile 975.3, Segrest Rd. Road construction is complete along US 331. One less obstacle.
p. 285, mile 975.3, Eglin Portal trailhead. Mileage is incorrect. Should be 977.1
p. 287, mile 980.4, Blount Creek. New balance-beam style bridge has a guy wire. Until you cross the bridge and get into the floodplain between Blount and Alaqua Creeks on the other side, it won’t be obvious if you need to turn around due to flooding. Flowing water = turn around and follow the FLOODING procedure. Since there is now a bridge over Alaqua Creek, your danger zone is between here and there in the lowlying floodplain swamps.
p. 287, mile 981.1, Alaqua Creek. After years of anticipation, there is finally a sturdy long-span suspension bridge over Alaqua Creek. No more dangerous fording. This warning no longer applies. Enjoy the view.
p. 287, mile 981.7, Turpentine Branch. Missing from the lineup is this useful water source as you climb out of the Alaqua floodplain. Easy to reach and good flow.
p. 288, mile 990.2, Alaqua trailhead. To alleviate closures of the Florida Trail during tactical training exercises on the north side of Eglin, the base has created a new J-35 TTA on their Public Access Map (PAM) which all recreational users must check before heading anywhere on base. Generally, J-35 should remain open most of the time. It includes the bulk of the Catface section in Eglin, between the Alaqua trailhead and SR 285 near Mossy Head.
Spanning from the Pearl trailhead at mile 1019.2 to the Yellow River Ravines section at mile 1040.2, the Crestview roadwalk is the third longest along the Florida Trail. The segment from Pearl up SR 85 and under Interstate 10 is the toughest part because of the volume of traffic and driveways. After that it’s sidewalks through Crestview and walking parallel to US 90 west.
p. 294, CRESTVIEW. If you need replacement gear or shoes, head to Trailside Outfitter, 850-398-8514, 749 N Ferndon Blvd, 1.2E up SR 85 where the trail turns onto US 90 out of downtown Crestview. Locally owned gear store with good selection of basics plus everything you need for backpacking, from air mattresses to tents and sleeping bags. Call ahead for special orders. Open 10-6 M-F, 10-4 Sat.
p. 294, mile 1030.5, US 90 roadwalk. Once you are north of the highway bridge over the railroad just north of Milligan, there is a paralleling utility easement on the south side of US 90 that is the blazed trail route and much safer walking than along the road shoulder. It continues most of the way to mile 1034.1 with intermittent breaks.
p. 294, mile 1033.3, Linda Lou’s Produce. Newly opened produce stand along US 90 in Galliver is a good stop for cold water, fresh fruits and veggies, snacks.
p. 294, mile 1036.6, River’s Edge Campground. Hikers report that the campground IS accepting backpacking tent campers. $30/night provides access to showers, laundry, and a place to charge your phone.
p. 295, mile 1043.0, Julian Mill Creek. A bridge now spans Julian Mill Creek.
p. 295, mile 1049.5, Wild Azalea Campsite. A short blue blaze at a sign leads to the campsite, which has ample space for a large group. There is a picnic bench, fire ring, and two large benches. The water source is barely 0.1N of the junction along the trail.
p. 297, mile 1056.2, Yellow River Bridge. A new pedestrian walkway is a part of the new bridge over the Yellow River floodplain. Join it on the east side of SR 87 as you approach the bridge.
p. 297, mile 1057.7, Yellow River trailhead. The trail no longer goes under the highway here to enter the Weaver Creek section of Eglin. Instead, a gate has been installed in the new DOT wildlife fence on the west side of SR 87 about 0.2 south of the bridge on the west side of the highway, meaning you must cross traffic from the pedestrian walkway to get there. The slope down to it is very steep and often muddy. The trailhead itself barely has any parking due to be roughed up by construction. The boat ramp is closed and the trailhead sign has been removed. We recommend day use parking only, room for a few cars along the pavement.
p. 298, mile 1060.0, Buck Pond. According to hikers who visited it, the dam at Buck Pond was removed and the pond has entirely drained down to the creek that was dammed up to form it, so you may not easily find water there. Eglin AFB has removed all signage on SR 87 pertaining to this recreation area but we cannot find confirmation that it may be permanently closed. There is still unmarked road access to it through the new fence along SR 87.
p. 298, mile 1066.0, SR 87 crossing. You must now leave a gate on the west side of SR 87 and cross four lanes of traffic – which does not expect a person to cross here – to the east side of SR 87 to enter a gate. The gates are set between two vehicle-accessible secure gates. The trail gates are tied closed.
If the PAM shows E-16 closed (the location of the gate on the east side of SR 87) but E-15 open over the next 24 hours, you can still use the Dean Creek campsite if you are headed northbound. Follow SR 87S to Vonnie Tolbert Rd. Follow that road E (it crosses a creek good as a water source) to an entrance gate on the left just where the road makes a 90* turn right. Walk in and turn right on the road under the powerline. Keep right at the fork in the road. Rejoin orange blazes.
When you leave Dean Creek campsite northbound, if the PAM says H-1 is closed, you can exit from E-15 when you reach the broad clay road just after the old trail kiosk. It is River Rd. Turn right and you can follow it all the way down to SR 87 and the East Bay trailhead.
HURRICANE MICHAEL IMPACTS: CR 399 has been rebuilt yet again after it washed away during Hurricane Michael. Expect to see chunks of asphalt roadbed littering the dunes.
p. 304, mile 1086.7, CR 399. The road crossing from the beach to UWF Dunes has been moved 0.2N of its prior location and there is now a crosswalk. It meets the paved Pensacola Beach Bike Path in front of the big “Welcome to Pensacola Beach” sign. Look for the first of the poles leading you into the dunes just behind that sign.
p. 304, mile 1088.1, Bayview Campsite. An attempt was made to move the Bayview Campsite over to the bay at a location 0.2N of the needlerush marsh to make it accessible to paddlers as well. However, erosion has taken its toll. We recommend using the path straight ahead after the needlerush marsh for a good tent spot on pine duff under the pines to the right. Once you’re set up, you can follow that worn path out to the beach. Look north and you’ll see a couple of park benches perched on the eroding bluff. There isn’t anywhere to pitch a tent there except on rough ground near a garbage can. When you pass the blue blazed poles 0.2N of the needlerush marsh, this is where they lead, with no flat ground along that route.
p. 304, mile 1090.2, Pensacola Beach Bike Path. Along the next half mile, there are two parking areas on the opposite side of CR 399 for beach parking, and both have portable toilets. Past those, keep alert along the bike path for sporadic water fountains with water bottle filling stations. Most are near the trolley stops. Sadly, the trolley doesn’t run during hiking season.
p. 304, PENSACOLA BEACH. Travelodge is now Surf and Sand Hotel. Same address, same phone, new website, new look, and no longer a budget hotel. Your room includes use of kayaks, paddleboards, floats, and bikes. No pets.
p. 306, mile 1096.8, Fort Pickens. The entrance fee for Fort Pickens has increased to $10 pedestrian, $20 vehicle. Receipt is good for one week at any unit of Gulf Islands National Seashore. The entrance station has been moved farther into the park so you don’t pass it on foot when you follow the blazes to the beach. However, whoever is picking you up at the end of the hike will need to pay the entrance fee. National Public Lands passes accepted.
p. 307, mile 1102.7, Fort Pickens Campground. Camping reservations are are through Recreation.gov. Sites $20-40/night.
p. 315, mile 1050, Burnt Grocery campsite. The full name is Burnt Grocery Creek campsite and it sits off a blue blaze that continues through the campsite and down to the creek for water. It has large benches, a picnic bench, and fire ring.
p. 315, mile 1050.8, Miller Bluff Rd. Parking is possible at Miller Bluff Rd just south of the bridge over Interstate 10 on the west side of the road. Day use only recommended.
p. 315, mile 1051.8, Hutton Unit. The trail route has changed slightly through the cutover timberlands north of US 90, so landmarks we mention in the data sheet may not match up. Follow the blazes.
p. 317, mile 1071.4, Bear Lake Recreation Area. It is now necessary to reserve a campsite in advance at all Blackwater River State Forest campgrounds via Reserve America, by phone at 1-800-456-2267 or online
p. 317, mile 1071.4, Krul Recreation Area. It is now necessary to reserve a campsite in advance at all Blackwater River State Forest campgrounds via Reserve America, by phone at 1-800-456-2267 or online
p. 317, mile 1081.1, Karick Lake South Recreation Area. It is now necessary to reserve a campsite in advance at all Blackwater River State Forest campgrounds via Reserve America, by phone at 1-800-456-2267 or online
p. 317, mile 1081.1, Karick Lake North Recreation Area. It is now necessary to reserve a campsite in advance at all Blackwater River State Forest campgrounds via Reserve America, by phone at 1-800-456-2267 or online
p. 318, mile 1079, Hurricane Lake South Recreation Area. It is now necessary to reserve a campsite in advance at all Blackwater River State Forest campgrounds via Reserve America, by phone at 1-800-456-2267 or online
p. 318, mile 1079.9, Hurricane Lake North Recreation Area. It is now necessary to reserve a campsite in advance at all Blackwater River State Forest campgrounds via Reserve America, by phone at 1-800-456-2267 or online
OCEAN TO LAKE
p.325-326, Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail permits: Permits are no longer needed for the DuPuis campsites. For camping in Loxahatchee Slough (Palm Beach County), the new contact is Mary Canada at 561-233-2503 (M-F 9-4), or by email. You may also call 561-233-2400, their main number.
It is no longer necessary to pay your Jonathan Dickinson access fee at the front gate. Drop it in the iron ranger along the Ocean-to-Lake Trail after you cross Hobe Groves Canal. You do still have to contact the park in advance regards camping at Kitching Creek or Scrub Jay.
p. 326, mile 0, NENA trailhead. The trailhead now connects to Okeechobee East via a road leading up onto the dike. However, there are so many closures along the Okeechobee East section it’s unlikely you’ll want to tackle it.
p. 328, mile 33-35, Loxahatchee Slough CA. A portion of the OTL has been temporarily detoured while the land manager does work on the property. The detour should lift by March 15, 2019. Call Mary Canada with any questions.
p. 330, mile 55.9, Scrub Jay campsite. Pitcher pump added.
EASTERN CONTINENTAL TRAIL
In July 2018 and again in December 2018, we traversed the length of the Keys to assess recovery after Hurricane Irma. While businesses are coming along nicely, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail has seen little to no work done on places it was roughed up or washed away. That’s not a problem when you’re on foot, but John rode his bike the length of the Keys. Here’s what the route looks like, from Key West to Key Largo.
Here are updates for some of the waypoints noted in the data charts, p. 332-336.
We discovered that many campgrounds in the Keys have either closed or no longer will accept tent campers.
Mile 5.3, Stock Island. Tent campers welcome at both Leo and Boyds Campgrounds.
Mile 11.5, Geiger Key Marina & RV Park. No longer accepts tent campers.
Mile 21.2, Lazy Lakes RV Park. No longer accepts tent campers.
Mile 21.3, KOA Sugarloaf Key. Remains closed.
Mile 34.9, Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge & Campground. Tent campers welcome, lots of space.
Mile 38.8, Bahia Honda State Park. Cabins reopened, one of two campgrounds open. Tents welcome.
Mile 40.7, Sunshine Key RV Resort and Marina. Now owned by Encore RV Resorts. No longer accepts tent campers. Rental cabins available.
Mile 42, Veterans Park. Closed, undergoing renovations.
Mile 49, MARATHON. Knights Key Campground at the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge was sold and leveled and is now becoming a condo complex.
Mile 61.5, Jolly Roger RV Park. Tent campers welcome. $73 + tx for up to 4 adults on site.
Mile 69.8, Long Key State Park. Campground was destroyed by Irma and not rebuilt yet.
Mile 72.4, Fiesta Key Resort & Campground. Now owned by Encore RV Resorts. No longer accepts tent campers. Rental cabins and hotel rooms available.
Mile 75.7, Anne’s Beach. Closed, undergoing renovations.
Mile 82.9, Islander Resort. Closed, undergoing renovations.
Mile 93, Historic Tavernier Inn. Closed, undergoing renovations.
Mile 102.5, Key Largo Campground. Tent campers welcome. $40-44 + tx for up to 2 adults on site.
Mile 103.8, Pennekamp State Park. Campground open, tents welcome.
Mile 104.8, Kings Kamp RV Park. Tent campers welcome. $40-50 + tx for up to 2 adults on site.
Mile 117.2, C-111 access road. The C-111 lock crossing was closed in December 2018. We had to continue along US 1 N over the bridge and then take the ramp posted “no vehicles” to access the Southern Glades Greenway on the north side of the C-111 canal.
Here is a video from John’s traverse of the Southern Glades Trail from the C-111 canal to mile 132.1 at CR 9336. He rode up it on his bike to Everglades National Park to show you what the southernmost 12 miles of this levee walk looks like.
p. 345, FLORIDA CITY. The Everglades International Hostel has been renamed the Hoosville Hostel. New owners, all amenties and contact info the same.
We will be working on a new edition of our Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail guidebook in 2019.