Tall slash pines dominate the windswept remnant of coastal scrub forest that St. George Island State Park protects at the easternmost tip of this barrier island dividing the mouth of the Apalachicola River from the Gulf of Mexico.
Starting from the campground area, the 5-mile round trip Gap Point Trail offers an opportunity to backpack or day hike to get up close to the desert-like coastal scrub.
Location: St. George Island
Length: Up to 5 miles round-trip
Trailhead: 29.718900, -84.749583
Fees / Permits: State park entrance fee and camping fee
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Taking pets along is not recommended. With soft sand underfoot, it’s not an easy hike, and it’s hot out there. It is also a very rare and fragile habitat.
Bring plenty of water for the journey, especially if you’re camping along the bay. Be sure to check in at the ranger station before you backpack out to the campsite. Pack it in, pack it out.
From US 98 at Eastpoint, cross the bridge over to St. George Island. Turn left on SR 300 and follow the road until it ends at St. George Island State Park. The trailhead for the Gap Point Trail is at the campground, 4.5 miles past the ranger station. Use the parking area adjacent to the playground.
The Gap Point Trail, a 5-mile round trip, leads to a primitive campsite on Apalachicola Bay, over relict dunes topped with oak scrub and rosemary scrub, around salt marshes, and along the coastal strand.
Along the trail, the desert-like landscape is oddly beautiful, a testament to the power of wind and water, where trees and shrubs are twisted and gnarled by the persistent coastal winds.
Interpretive information explains the importance of the naval stores industry in Florida history, where coastal pines were tapped for turpentine.