Apalachee ChapterServing Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla Counties
Since 1982, the Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association has brought hikers together throughout the Capital Region surrounding Tallahassee. The Apalachee Chapter has the distinction of maintaining the first certified section of the Florida National Scenic Trail, certified by the USDA Forest Service in 1988.
The chapter is home to the Florida Trail Association Tallahassee office. In addition to a wide slate of activities year-round, the chapter holds the Annual Bradwell Bay Wilderness Swamp Stomp each March in the heart of the Apalachicola National Forest, where participants slog about 8 miles through one of the largest swamp forests in Florida along a section of the Florida Trail once rated by Backpacker magazine as one of the 10 toughest hikes in the United States.
The Apalachee Chapter maintains the Florida Trail from the Aucilla River west to the Apalachicola River, including the Aucilla River & Sinks Water Management Areas, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and the Apalachicola National Forest. In addition, members maintain loop trails at Fort Braden (Lake Talquin State Forest), Phipps Park, and Torreya State Park.
The Apalachicola Section of the Florida Trail offers delights for the day hiker and challenges for the backpacker on its 77 mile journey. Along the Sopchoppy River, there is fragrant wild azalea in spring and spectacular scenic views; in the Bradwell Bay Wilderness, it’s a challenge best shared as you wade through nearly 8 miles of deep swamp hiding virgin stands of cypress and pine. Rare pitcher plants bloom in the western prairies of the forest each spring.
In St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, the Florida Trail has the distinction of being the only National Scenic Trail that skirts along the sea, here overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Backpackers enjoy the rare privilege of camping inside the refuge (permit required) when hiking this 50 mile section, and encounter historic sites such as the Port Leon ghost town and natural wonders like expanses of salt marshes, The Cathedral of Palms and Shepherd Spring.