Although the fort is the focus here, there are activities galore beneath the tight-knit canopy of oaks along this peninsula.
Savor a day along the dunes at the beach, take a wild ride on ancient dunes along the mountain biking loop, or go gator-spotting on a hike around Willow Pond.
Two campgrounds, extensive beaches, shady trails, and one whopping big fortress make this Florida State Park a prime destination.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Fernandina Beach
Trailhead: 30.703686, -81.452663
Address: 2601 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Fees: $6 per vehicle, 2-8 people; $4 single occupant vehicle; $2 pedestrians, cyclists, and extra passengers; $2.50 per person fort admission
Restrooms: At fort visitor center and beach parking lot
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Park open 8 AM to sunset daily, Ranger station 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Fort 9 AM to 5 PM, Visitor Center 9 AM to 4:30 PM.
Pets are prohibited on beaches, in buildings, and on boardwalks. Pets must be leashed in campgrounds and on trails.
From Jacksonville, follow Interstate 95 north for 20 miles to exit 373. Head east on SR 200 / A1A (Buccaneer Trail) for 10 miles, passing through Yulee and crossing the Intracoastal Waterway into Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. Continue 2 miles as A1A curves north and merges onto South 8th St. Continue north on South 8th St for 3 miles to Atlantic Ave and turn right. Head east on Atlantic Ave for 1.5 miles. The entrance to Fort Clinch State Park will be on your left.
About the Park
Fort Clinch State Park is located on the north end of Amelia Island, bounded by the Amelia River and Egans Creek marsh to the west.
Cumberland Sound and Cumberland Island lie to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
The park offers camping and hiking by the sea, cycling along a live oak canopy road, fishing, birding, swimming, shark tooth hunting, and lots of photo opportunities.
Steeped in history, its Civil War fort is one of the largest brick structures in Florida. Step back in time to 1863 as you tour the military fortress’ many rooms, galleries, and grounds.
Learn about the life of a Union soldier through its living history programs and on-site reenactors. Garrison reenactments occur the first full weekend of every month.
Fort Clinch’s visitor center offers park pamphlets, information, souvenirs, and some camping supplies.
In addition to reenactments, events are held throughout the year, including monthly Candlelight Tours of the fort and weekly guided nature walks.
Visit the second weekend of November for the “History of the American Soldier,” an evening program saluting the U.S. Armed Forces with a living timeline of major military conflicts.
For a complete listing of events, check with the Ranger Station or on the park website.
Fort Clinch provides visitors with three hiking opportunities. In the sun, ramble a 4.8-mile round-trip beach walk from the West Inlet parking area.
In the shade, a half mile nature walk around Willow Pond and a 5.7-mile multi-use trail throughout a maritime forest.
The Fort Clinch Beach Walk begins at the visitor center at the West Inlet parking lot along a rocky shoreline at the confluence of the Amelia River and Cumberland Sound.
Following the waterway, you reach the Atlantic Ocean. Hike north to search for shark’s teeth.
A long jetty juts out into the ocean here – do not attempt to walk on it, as the slippery conditions and tidal currents are not safe.
But do enjoy the multitude of shore birds like laughing gulls, royal terns, and ruddy turnstones as they dive and feed in the shallow waters.
Reaching the East Beach Access at 2.4 miles, there are restrooms with water, picnic tables, and a bird pavilion.
Watch for cardinals, bluebirds, and maybe even a painted bunting or two nibbling at the bird feeders.
The beach access is a good place to take a break before returning back to the West Inlet parking lot for a total of 4.8 miles.
Willow Pond Nature Trail is a short but sweet trek that offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the Park.
Watch for armadillos, owls, deer, osprey, turtles, and alligators. Willow Pond is actually a collection of coastal depression ponds, teeming with duckweed and lined with saw palmettos.
Take your time and enjoy the lush green environment along with its symphony of frogs and cicadas.
A guided tour of Willow Pond is offered every Saturday at 10:30 AM.
The Main Loop is a 5.7 mile shared-use trail that parallels the paved road, offering a challenge to cyclists and hikers alike.
There are lots of ups and downs along this route. Be sure to watch out for roots and bicycles. The trail intersects the main road in several spots.
The sand dunes are spectacular. You may see deer if you hike early in the morning or at dusk.
Trails of Fort Clinch State Park
Tackle two nature trails totaling less than a mile to discover a wildlife haven amid the forested dunes of Fort Clinch State Park.
Explore a wave-tossed beach shoreline while searching for sea shells along the northernmost stretch of the Atlantic Coast in Florida.
Extending the length of the peninsula defining the north tip of Amelia Island, the 5.7-mile Main Loop is surprisingly hilly and challenging.
Fort Clinch features 3.3 miles of paved road through a shady maritime forest lined with live oak trees stippled with Spanish moss.
Use caution and ride single file, as the road is narrow and winding.
A 5.7-mile off-road multi-use trail, adjacent to the paved road, offers a challenging ride along the dunes with lots of roots, rolling hills, and sharp turns.
This trail is considered intermediate and is shared with hikers. Use caution and be sure to wear a helmet.
Beach cycling is doable along hard-packed sand, especially at low tide, using bikes with larger tires. Beach cruisers are available for rent at the visitor center.
Parking for the multi-use trail is at the fort visitor center and can be accessed at several other points along the paved canopy road.
Fort Clinch State Park is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Birding opportunities abound across a vast variety of habitats.
The park’s bird count includes over a hundred local and migratory species.
A birding pavilion at the East Beach Access features a bird blind, feeders, and a large bird bath.
Throughout the park birders can expect to see numerous species of woodpeckers, hawk, owls, sandpipers, warblers, wrens, gulls, painted buntings, and wading birds.
Pick up a bird list at the front gate, and don’t forget your binoculars!
There are four camping options at Fort Clinch State Park. Atlantic Beach campground offers 21 large RV sites, surrounded by sand dunes, within walking distance to the beach.
The campground provides a dump station, laundry facilities, and large restrooms with showers.
Also at Atlantic Beach you’ll find six tent-only sites, primitive in nature, but with full access to the Park’s amenities.
The Amelia River campground features 42 sites with views of the Amelia River.
The campground offers respite from the Florida heat with large, shady sites surrounded by live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.
Here you’ll also find a dump station, restrooms with showers, and laundry facilities.
The primitive group camp facility offers a great wilderness retreat and excellent hiking opportunities.
Considered one of the best group camping facilities in the state park system, three spacious sites in the group campground accommodate up to 75 campers.
See our photos of Fort Clinch State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Northeast of Jacksonville in Fernandina Beach, Egans Creek Greenway is a protected area of over 300 acres that runs north to south along Egans Creek.
At Fernandina Plaza State Park, civilizations have made their mark here for more than 4,000 years, with the Spanish touch reaching these shores in the mid-1600s. This unassuming open space marks the spot of Plaza San Carlos, a parade ground for the fortress that protected a fledgling city known as Fernandina.
Home to the largest dune system on the Atlantic Coast in Florida, American Beach has a rich history as a vacation destination that served the African-American community during the days of segregation in the South.