14.3 miles. Bordered by the tangled floodplain forests of the Yellow River to the north, the 14.3-mile Weaver Creek section of the Florida Trail traverses the western side of Eglin Air Force Base on high, dry sandhills topped with longleaf pine forest and planted pine.
Higher and drier than the eastern side of Eglin Air Force Base, the Weaver Creek section features rolling clayhills topped with longleaf pine, and a handful of stream drainages. Of these, the scenic beauty is concentrated at the segment’s namesake of Weaver Creek, and at the steephead around Dean Creek, where colorful Gulf Coast pitcher plants sport purple blossoms in springtime.
All hikers must have a permit in advance of arriving at Eglin Air Force Base. Eglin now has a FREE permit for thru-hikers. Day hikers and section hikers not continuing at least 50 miles beyond Eglin must obtain the standard $20 annual Outdoor Recreation permit. Obtain your permit online.
Although the traverse of this section is easy, getting access to it is tough. In general, the Weaver Creek section is closed to public access during the week and only open on weekends. Before your hike, call 850-882-4164 or check the Public Access Map online to ensure the base is open: FPCON DELTA status means the base is closed to public access.
Eglin is an active military installation with ongoing training maneuvers. Aircraft may fly very low over the tree canopy and you may hear bombing. Stay in the trail corridor and use established campsites. If you notice any sort of ordinance – rocket, bomb, hand grenade – do not approach it but note the location and call Eglin Security Forces at 850-882-2502 to report it.
Check hunt dates as a part of your trip planning, and always wear bright orange clothing during hunting seasons.
From Interstate 10 Exit 31, follow SR 87 south to the Yellow River trailhead, just south of the Yellow River bridge [30.569548, -86.923714]. From there, it’s necessary to cross busy four-laned SR 87 and follow the fenceline for 0.2 mile towards Navarre until you get to the gate in the fence to enter this section. The trailhead at the other end of this section is off SR 87 at Holley at the East Bay River [30.441963, -86.866837].
Primarily paralleling SR 87 and not far enough from it to get away from traffic noise, this section of the Florida Trail leads you through shady oak hammocks and pine forests in the rolling hills of Eglin. Wildflowers like sandhill wireweed and lupine add dashes of color to the wiregrass understory. The blue-blazed trail at 2.2 miles leads west (trail east) to Buck Pond, a designated camping area shared with car campers.
Crossing Weaver Creek, the trail continues over Powerline Road before it exits a gate where you must once again cross the four lanes of traffic on SR 87. Once you’re across, it starts following the southwestern edge of the reservation along Dean Creek. You’ll encounter some low stretches of titi and gum swamp.
Dean Creek is a beauty spot with a pleasant campsite beyond the creek. Emerging from the ravine, the trail crosses River Road and continues around a residential area in Holley, finally exiting the base at the Nelda Road (RR 255) gate. Follow the roads out to SR 87, which you cross one more time to reach the East Bay trailhead.
NORTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Navarre Roadwalk
SOUTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Yellow River Roadwalk