Western Gate Chapter

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Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
 

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The Western Gate Chapter, chartered in 1992, is the western-most chapter of the Florida Trail Association and is responsible for building and maintaining the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. It is also responsible for the
In addition to maintaining and developing trails, the chapter offers hiking, camping,
Hike, covering all of the FNST for which we are responsible. Something for everyone! FNST Side Trail from the Yellow River Ravines north through Blackwater River State Forest to the Florida/Alabama line, providing hikers with an option to continue north toward the Great Eastern Trail or the Appalachian Trail.  Our chapter also maintains Garcon Point Trail, a popular loop trail in the Florida Trail System.canoeing and kayaking trips, as well as other outdoor travel opportunities to areas in Florida and the Southeast. The Panhandle Trace Hike is our signature annual 100-mile

Trails:

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The Western Gate chapter maintains the FNST from its northern terminus at Fort Pickens, Gulf Islands National Seashore, through the Weaver Creek and Yellow River Ravines areas which continue the FNST as it extends east toward a connection with the Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) section or north through Blackwater River State Forest to the Florida/Alabama line.  The chapter also maintains the Garcon Point Loop Trail where spectacular fields of carnivorous pitcher plants grow.

THE SEASHORE SECTION (FNST):  To begin the 1,300 mile trek on the Florida National Scenic Trail, hikers start at the trailhead located at historic Fort Pickens in Gulf Islands National Seashore and continue on the only segment of a National Scenic Trail that provides a beach and sand experience, a unique ecological environment.  As it winds along the shoreline and back into the dunes of this barrier island, hikers will see plants, birds and marine life not typically seen on any other section of the FNST. Hikers also learn about the historic and cultural significance of the western Panhandle.

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WEAVER CREEK SECTION (FNST):  Weaver Creek Trail is located on the western edge of Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), stretching @ approximately 14 miles between Navarre and the Yellow River. Hikers will meander through upland pines and oaks, cross a beautiful spring-fed stream and pass by a large, picturesque steephead. Other points of interest will include walking across lichen covered hillsides, and enjoying the shady coolness of a titi swamp. Since this trail is located on Eglin AFB, a recreational permit is required (contact Eglin AFB -Jackson Guard at 850-882-4165 for permit purchase).

YELLOW RIVER RAVINES (FNST): Currently under construction for the purpose of getting the FNST off road-walks, several miles of this trail are now available through woodlands and wetlands, providing access to cypress-ringed ponds, lovely, clear streams with aquatic plants, pitcher plant bogs, a variety of wildflowers, flowering shrubs and other lush vegetation.  One segment includes a road-walk which leads over the Yellow River bridge on Highway 87.

BLACKWATER RIVER STATE FOREST:  This FNST Side Trail continues north from Yellow River Ravines into the Forest’s longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem on trails such as the scenic Juniper Creek Trail, which connects Blackwater River State Park with the 20-mile long Jackson Red Ground Trail. The Jackson Trail provides access to recreation areas at Bear, Krul, Karick and Hurricane Lakes and links to the Wiregrass Trail which continues north to Side Trail’s trailhead at the Florida/Alabama state line. Special features along these trails include beautiful rivers and streams with snow-white sandbars shaded by river bluff forests, stands of mountain laurel, rhododendron, and wild azalea, as well as pitcher plant bogs.