If you’re looking for remote along Florida’s coastlines, Little St. George Island should be on your bucket list. It has more than 9 miles of undeveloped beach only accessible by boat.
Located seven miles south of the town of Apalachicola, Florida, the island is separated from St. George Island by Sikes Cut, a man-made pass dredged in 1954, and St. Vincent Island by West Pass, a natural inlet into Apalachicola Bay.
An overnight stay at one of the lightly-used primitive campsites is almost a must to make the most of your visit, since the island offers boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking, primitive camping, wildlife viewing, and shelling opportunities.
Location: Little (Cape) St. George Island
Length: 3.3 mile loop
Trailhead: 29.603103,-85.049676 (Marshall House dock)
Land manager: Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
Little St. George Island is only accessibly by boat. Visitors may tie up their boats to the wood docks near the Marshall House at their own risk. Leashed dogs welcome.
Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico can be challenging for smaller boats as well as kayaks and canoes. Use good judgement when choosing to cross the bay, and carefully consider tides, winds, and potentially severe weather.
West Pass, Marshall House dock and field station, and Sike’s Cut are the three main access points to the island, from which the trails are easily explored.
Most roads, trailheads, and trail junctions on the island are named and marked with wooden “street” signs.
Many boat launches can provide access to Little St. George Island, including public ramps at Indian Pass, Battery Park in Apalachicola, and on St. George Island.
Boaters will need to travel between 9-13 miles in order to reach the Island Ridge Trail, near the center of the island and the Marshall House Field Station. Another good option is to book a day trip with a local outfitter.
Explore the center of the island via its sand roads and trails. From Marshall Dock, take either Short Road (0.75 miles) or Long Road (1.2 miles) south for direct access to the Gulf Beach. Both roads are made up of soft sand, so carrying beach gear or coolers may be a workout!
The primitive Island Ridge Trail extends west (1.2 miles, blazed red) from the Short Road and eventually meets up with Old Bay Road (1.1 miles) at the bayshore to make a moderate 3.3 mile loop from Marshall House.
Just east of Marshall House, two primitive campsites are available at the Government Dock area as well as along a trail that meanders about 1 mile to the beach. Chances are the only other footprints you’ll see on at these designated campsites are the prints of raccoons, tortoises, coyotes, and lizards.
Island Ridge Trail is appropriately named as it meanders through the scrubby, parallel dune ridges stacked along the middle portion of the barrier island.
This part of the island is a mini version of the more complex dune and swale system found on its neighbor to the west, St. Vincent Island.
A little over two-thirds down the Island Ridge Trail is one of the higher elevations (just over 21ft) on the island. This vantage point allows views of both Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf between the slash pines and cabbage palms.
At the very west end of the island at West Pass at the large kiosk, visitors can look across the natural inlet to see the cabin on St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge.
A short trail (0.2 miles, blazed red) gives access to two primitive campsites in the dunes and pines. From West Pass, the center of the island is about a 4 mile walk on the beach.
The east end of Little St. George Island is an ideal place to fish from shore or on the jetties, or by boat and kayak. A 0.2 mile trail connects the information kiosk at the near the jetties to Sike’s Cut Trail as well as to two primitive campsites.
An easy but unshaded 1.6 mile loop (blazed red) can be made by hiking both Sike’s Cut Trail and the Gulf beach. Beachgoers wearing sandals should exercise caution when using the trails here because of poison ivy, briars, sand spurs and cacti.
See slides of Little St. George Island
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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.
Leading to a stand of dwarf bald cypress centuries old and less than 15 feet tall, the Kendrick Boardwalk at Tate’s Hell State Forest is one of the weirder botanical spots in the Florida panhandle.
Blessed with brilliant white quartz sand, St. George Island State Park is a sparkling, quiet getaway protecting more than 2,000 acres of coastal habitats on a barrier island between Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Thanks to Caitlin Snyder, Stewardship & GIS Specialist with the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, part of FDEP’s Florida Coastal Office, for providing this hike.