A long entrance road belies the delights of Hinson Conservation & Recreation Area, the newest place for hikers to play in Marianna. Facilitated by the Office of Greenways and Trails, the preserve, just south of downtown along SR 71, encompasses a sweep of former pastureland and pine plantations, pecan groves and upland forest. On the drive down to the Chipola River, we discovered the remains of a historic railroad between Marianna and Blountstown – with serious-sized pines growing between the tracks – and watched white-tailed deer bound ahead along the red clay. Once to the river, it was obvious why this will become a hiking Mecca for the region. The Chipola Greenway, now under development and in place for some distance downstream, leads you along the bluffs overlooking this rugged waterway. Lined by ancient cypress, its banks undercut by caves and sinkholes, riffles in the water from rapids, it”s a fascinating place.
As I was told by Kent Wimmer last night at the FTA meeting in Tallahassee, plans are for an F-Troop to build a segment of trail along the river near the rapids known as “Look and Tremble,” where a campsite will await hikers on this piece of the Florida Trail. If you’d like a sneak peek at what the rapids look like, drive east into Blountstown on SR 20 and check out the mural on the Lakehouse Restaurant – an artistic feast by my friend and trail supporter Jeff Vickery – of “Look and Tremble” in it’s glory.
Hinson Preserve is open daily sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs permitted. There are no bathroom facilities, but there is a canoe launch and picnic tables at the start of the hiking trail.
30.764977,-85.247927 (entrance coordinates)