In Tate’s Hell State Forest, the High Bluff Coastal Trail along US 98 near Carrabelle leads you over relict dunes covered with scrub plants like Florida rosemary and scrub mint, partially shaded by a canopy of sand pines.
Length: Up to 8.7 miles
Lat-Long: 29.809317, -84.729067 (East Trailhead) 29.809317, -84.729067 (West Trailhead)
Fees / Permits: none
Bug factor: moderate to high
Follow US 98 for 2.7 miles west of Carrabelle, the trailhead is on the right. The second trailhead “West Trailhead” is along US 98 closer to SR 65.
Showcasing the rare and unique coastal pine forests of the Gulf of Mexico, this hike leads you through a variety of habitats. We first walked this trail when only the East Loop existed, and we understand it has changed a bit since our visit. We’ll add full details when we have an opportunity to revisit Carrabelle Beach. The delight of this hike is the immersion in the coastal scrub, a habitat that has severely declined due to growing population along this once-wild shoreline. As you follow the east loop, look for a blue-blazed side trail leads 0.1 mile to a catfaced pine with a metal cup used to collect sap for turpentine.
Since this is a scrub habitat, expect some sand in your shoes. Two loops now comprise the trail system, the shorter one the East Loop at 3.5 miles. The longer loop is the West Loop at 5.5 miles. Hike the perimeter for the full 8.7 miles.
Despite the high ridge, some parts of the trail might be mucky as you draw within sight of bayheads and cypress domes. There are several benches and a picnic table along the trail in the shade of tall sand pines, providing an opportunity for you to sit and listen for woodpeckers.