8.7 miles. Crossing majestic longleaf pine forests in Nokuse Plantation, the Florida Trail along the Choctawhatchee River also showcases natural features in the river basin between Cypress Creek and Seven Runs.
Florida Trail, Nokuse
Nearly two decades ago, local entrepreneur and conservationist M.C. Davis purchased more than 53,000 acres of the landscapes he grew up in, with a dream of restoring what had become pine plantations and sod farms back to the sweeping longleaf pine forests that once dominated the Southeast. He called it Nokuse Plantation, which is now one of the largest private conservancies in the United States.
Working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Florida Trail Association soon after purchasing the land, a permanent conservation easement across the landscape was arranged to forever provide the Florida Trail a corridor through the region. We had the honor of joining M.C. on an exploratory hike when the easement was first offered. While he is no longer with us, his legacy continues to be shepherded by a nonprofit organization he founded to complete his dream.
Using that conservation easement as well as adjacent public lands in the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the Nokue section of the Florida Trail spans 27.7 miles from the Choctawhatchee River to US 331 north of Freeport. Four designated primitive campsites are along the route, as well as plenty of streams as water sources. No permits required. This is a good section for backpacking with your dog.
Flooding can be an issue on portions of the Nokuse section. There is a blue-blazed alternative route paralleling Lafayette Creek. If the creek is flowing across the trail, do not attempt hiking it, use the blue blaze instead. If the Choctawhatchee River is in flood stage, the Choctawhatchee River Section will be impassable. Check the flood gauge in advance of your hike.
9.7 miles. Contrasting steephead ravines and sluggish creeks in gum swamps with restoration areas on former sod farms and pine plantations, the Forgotten Creek portion of the Florida Trail in Nokuse surprises with its challenges.
9.3 miles. From a tricky traverse of the floodplain of Lafayette Creek to a roller-coaster of steep dips through wooded ravines, this scenic and surprisingly hilly section of the Florida Trail will give you a serious workout.