Built and maintained by Florida Trail Association volunteers, the trail system includes the Central, East, and West Loops, all of which qualify for the Florida State Forests Trailwalker program.
Together these loop trails stack up to provide up to 11 miles worth of hiking on the hilly terrain above Lake Talquin.
Disclosure: As authors and affiliates, we receive earnings when you buy these through our links. This helps us provide public information on this website.
Location: Fort Braden
Length: Up to 9 miles in three loops
Trailhead: 30.440433, -84.495200
Fees: $2 day use fee.
Restroom: At the trailhead
Land manager: Florida Forestry Service
Leashed dogs welcome. The day-use fee is payable at a self-pay station at the trailhead.
The kiosk features a basic map. You can get a detailed backpacking map from the Florida Trail Association.
The primitive campsites can be reserved in advance. It used to be that you could reserve them as you arrived as well, but we don’t know if that still is the case. Fee is $10 per site, up to 5 people.
Equestrians have a separate 12-mile loop that starts from the same trailhead. You should not encounter equestrians or cyclists on the hiking trail.
Drive 8.5 miles west of Capital Circle West in Tallahassee along SR 20 to the forest entrance on the north side of the road.
At 2.6 miles, the Center Loop is the shortest hike you can take from the trailhead. The trail winds through a shady hardwood forest with a very open understory.
Southern magnolia, white oak, American holly, and beech provide shade along the sloping clay hills, which may come as a surprise to those not used to the hills around Tallahassee.
These hills are shaped by small but vigorous streams that cascade towards Lake Talquin. When the leaves are off the trees, you see the lake well before you actually approach the shoreline.
The Center Loop connects to both the East Loop (3.2 mile loop) and the West Loop (3.2 mile loop), enabling you to do a 9-mile perimeter hike along the loop system.
If you can only tackle one loop, the Center Loop provides the nicest views of Lake Talquin, with both a campsite and a picnic shelter right along the lakeshore.
The West Loop is also home to a lakefront campsite. Of the three loops, we found it to have the most challenging terrain.
In winter, trillium blooms along the slopes. By late April, expect to find wild blueberries.
Much of the hardwood forest is a magnolia-beech forest, so it is especially fragrant in late May and early June when the magnolias are in bloom.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Part of the Terry Rhodes Trail System, the Ravine Trail at the Bear Creek Tract of Lake Talquin State Forest clings to the edges of a large steephead ravine