Showcasing bluff forests and deep ravines above Lake Talquin, the Fort Braden Trails offer enough hiking for a weekend in the woods.
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. The shortest trail is the East Loop at 3.3 miles.
Trails wind through a shady hardwood forest of southern magnolia, white oak, American holly, and beech along sloping clay hills, where small but vigorous streams cascade towards Lake Talquin.
The open understory makes it easy to see wildlife, especially deer. You’ll also get a sneak peek of the lake long before the trail actually approaches it. Trail junctions are well marked with signs, and bright pink paint adorns footpath perils such as nasty roots.
The trails include two primitive campsites with great views of Lake Talquin. Each site features a fire ring and logs for sitting.
Most of the hardwood forest is southern magnolia, so be sure to visit in late May or June, when the fragrance of magnolia blossoms fills the air. In late April, blueberry bushes drip with fruit.
Length: 3.3, 4.2, or 11 miles.
Lat-Long: 30.440433, -84.495200
Fees / Permits: Florida State Forest usage fees
Bug factor: low to moderate
Restroom: At the trailhead
Lake Talquin State Forest (850-488-1871), 865 Geddie Rd, Tallahassee FL 32304
Drive 8.5 miles west of Capital Cir on SR 20 to the entrance on the north side of the road.
A day-use fee is payable at self-pay station at entrance. If you’re backpacking, fill out the form at the station and include appropriate payment for your camping permit. The kiosk features a basic map. You can get a detailed backpacking map from the Florida Trail Association.
At each campsite, you must camp within the area delineated by trees with white bands. A covered picnic pavilion with barbecue grill adjoins the parking area. There are also biking trails and equestrian trails.