In the 1990s, popular Flagler Beach State Park was renamed for a beloved Florida folksinger who gave his life trying to rescue a drowning man from the Atlantic surf.
This strand of orange sand attracts many beachgoers, but its breezy campgrounds within the sound of the sea are just as compelling.
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Length: 0.7 mile loop
Trailhead: 29.437367, -81.109317
Address: 3100 S. Oceanshore Blvd, Flagler Beach
Fees: $5 per vehicle
Restroom: At the trailhead and beach parking
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs permitted except on beach. Pay close attention to beach warning flags as the surf can whip up quickly.
From Interstate 95 exit 284 at Flagler Beach / Bunnell, follow SR 100 three miles west to Flagler Beach. Turn south on A1A and continue 2 miles to the park entrance on the right.
About the Park
Gamble Rogers, a folksy Florida folk singer, was a fixture at the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs every year.
A storyteller extraordinaire, he captivated audiences with his retellings of Florida history.
He was camping at Flagler Beach State Park in October 1991 when a young girl begged his help to save her father, who was caught in rough surf.
Not much of a swimmer himself, Gamble grabbed an air mattress and tried to save the man, and drowned too.
It’s still the same beach as it was back then, with thick orange coquina sand and rollicking surf and a campground within earshot of the melodic waves.
A nature trail winds under the thicket of windswept oaks west of A1A, where you can also drop a line or launch a kayak in the Intracoastal, or watch ibises pecking across the mud flats.
On the Intracoastal Waterway side of the park, the Joe Kenner Nature Trail treats you to a walk in the woods through a coastal hammock.
To find it, follow the park entrance road around to the right down a narrow dirt road along the waterway. Park in a small parking area on the left.
The trailhead adjoins the restrooms of the day use area and is under a canopy of sand live oaks. Walking under the windswept trees, you will have to duck in places.
Along a 0.2 mile connector, saw palmettos line the shady corridor, and yaupon and coontie rise from the forest floor.
Meet the half mile loop and turn right. It wends its way through the woods, crossing a forest road several times.
Watch for the spill of crushed shells where the trail clambers up and over middens.
It emerges briefly onto the open mud flats along the Intracoastal Waterway before heading back into the densely vegetated forest for the return trip, finishing up after 0.7 mile.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.