Near the park gates of St Joseph Peninsula State Park, the Maritime Forest Nature Trail offers a quick sampling of the habitats that cling to the bluffs along St. Joseph’s Bay. Your gateway: a boardwalk across a freshwater marsh. Interpretive information offers insights into the plant life of the windswept maritime hammock, and the hilly terrain creates superb vistas. Beneath the pines are middens, the trash heaps of ancient peoples who ate oysters along this shore. Bring your binoculars—and camera.
Location: Cape San Blas
Length: 0.7 mile
Lat-Long: 29.745900, -85.394683
Type: Loop and round-trip
Fees / Permits: no charge for this hike, as it’s outside the park gate
Bug factor: Moderate
Fishing is permitted along the shoreline, and people do use this trail to access the bay for that purpose.
For more information about St Joseph Peninsula State Park, which features another short walks – the St. Joseph Bay Trail – and a lengthy wilderness exploration in its own Wilderness Preserve, visit the state park website
From Port St. Joe, follow SR 30A to SR 30E; continue on SR 30E until it ends in the state park. The trailhead is on the right just before the ranger station, outside the park gates.
Creating a loop through a coastal hammock on the shores of St. Joseph’s Bay, this beautiful short trail starts out beneath the pines as a boardwalk across a freshwater marsh before rising up onto relict dunes beneath the sand pines. Turn left and follow the trail through a stretch of open scrub before entering the deep shade of a maritime hammock.
At 0.3 mile, walk out to the bluffs for a beautiful view of the bay. The trail makes a loop between the bluffs and a marsh, beneath bay and cedar trees, completing the loop at 0.4 mile. Continue on the linear portion of the trail, retracing your steps to the trailhead.