A popular recreation area in the Apalachicola National Forest west of Tallahassee, Silver Lake sees its fair share of picnics and parkgoers on sunny weekends. One of the nicer ways to enjoy the lake is to walk around it on the Silver Lake Trail, which leads you through the forests along its shores.
Length: 1.1 miles
Fees / Permits: $3 entrance fee
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: near the parking area
Park at the end of the parking area towards the restrooms to access the nature trail.
Follow SR 20 west from Tallahassee and look for the signs for Silver Lake Recreation Area.
From the restroom area, walk downhill towards the lakeshore. Look for a boardwalk, which leads out along the edge of the lake and provides views across and into the crystal clear water. As you leave the boardwalk, the trail makes an abrupt right turn and follows the lake closely, passing an interpretive sign on how the lake formed. At a junction with a Jeep road, turn right. Cross over a launch point for canoes and kayaks, and you reach a bench along the lake that faces the swimming area on the far side.
The trail winds through upland forests of hardwoods and pine flatwoods with an understory of oaks, as well as a climax laurel oak forest, and a stand of longleaf pines. Passing the “Longleaf pines and fire” interpretive marker, the trail swings left to follow an arm of Silver Lake, where cypresses line the shore. Walk past a catfaced pine – with a deep scar from turpentine tapping – and watch for a blue blaze that directs you to the right right onto a path coming in from the left. It reaches a clearing along the shoreline.
As you walk under large southern magnolias, the pitch of the land becomes more steeply sloped. The trail continues uphill and swings to the right to become a broad path heading in a straight line towards a gap in a fence. At 1 mile, you pass through the gap and emerge into the picnic area. The blazes end here. Walk across the picnic area along the lakeshore to reach the parking area and complete the 1.1-mile loop.