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The Florida Trail

Apalachicola West

Length: 34.9 miles (linear)

Pitcher plants (Sandra Friend)The Trail crosses the Apalachicola District of the National Forest in Florida and meanders through and around many large pine palmetto flatwoods separated by titi (pronounced TIE-tie) and cypress swamps.  This segment of trail is one of the most remote in Florida and offers a wide variety of flora and fauna year-round. Animals of the forest include red-cockaded woodpeckers, osprey, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, turkeys, alligators, bears, and panthers.

The west end of the trail traverses an interesting low savanna profuse with ground orchids and spring wildflowers. Midway along the trail are the remnants of the settlement of Vilas, a reminder of the turpentine industry. There is good fishing on the Ochlockonee River and in Camel Lake, along with plenty of additional opportunities to fish in the creeks and water holes along the way.

IMG_3827-MTo the west of Porter Lake Campground, the dominant vegetation is longleaf and slashpines with an under story of palmetto and wiregrass. A few turkey oaks occur in areas where there is better drainage. Vegetation along the drainages includes titi, tulip poplar, and other hardwoods. The trail crosses Coxes Branch on a suspension bridge. Summer wildflowers such as meadow beauty can be seen in this area. Wading can be expected if recent rainfall has been heavy.

Hikers in the northwestern corner of the Apalachicola National Forest near Camel Lake can explore a diverse area of unique plant communities. Between Memery Island and County Road 12, the trail passes through an area of pitcher plant savannas and hardwoods along drainages. East of Forest Road 108, the trail descends into pine flatwoods with a short section across a pitcher plant savanna and through a cypress swamp. A 9.4 mile loop is possible by parking at Camel Lake and hiking to Memery Island, Sheep Island, and Bonnet Pond before returning to Camel Lake. Numerous shorter day hikes are possible by checking the map for access points where the trail crosses sand roads.  For more information contact the Apalachee Chapter.