There’s plenty to do in Florida’s Panhandle Apalachicola National Forest. You can explore caverns and sinkholes in the Leon Sinks area or take a drive along the Apalachicola Savannahs Scenic Byway with its sub-tropical grasslands. The highest diversity of freshwater fish in Florida is in the Apalachicola River. There are also fantastic places to go hiking at this 632,890-acre national forest created in 1932. While this park’s main headquarters is in Tallahassee, staff maintain offices in Bristol and Crawfordville as well.
Traveling in an RV is a fantastic way to explore Apalachicola National Forest. Since there are two distinct areas, an RV allows you to make the most of your time at this incredible destination and to travel between the two spots. If you do not have an RV, it is easy to rent one on RVshare.com as all different sizes and styles are readily available.
Especially if you want to spend some time on the Apalachicola River, the 10-site Hickory Landing Campground may be perfect for you. All sites at this campground, where rates start at $13 per night, are located under tall cypress trees. You can easily launch a boat from the Hickory Landing boat ramp at this campground near Sumatra, Florida. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Fire ring, picnic tables, vault toilets
Many hunters choose to stay at the Mack Landing Campground during the winter. This campground, where rates start at about $15, is on a bluff overlooking the Ochlockonee River. A concrete boat ramp makes launching your boat easy. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Seasonal host on-site, picnic table, fire rings
Quiet 18-site Wright Lake Campground sits on Wright Lake’s shores, and you can go swimming, fishing, and boating on the lake. This campground’s white-sand beach is also the perfect place to relax. A campground host lives at this site year-round. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Picnic tables, fire rings
The Florida National Scenic Trail runs across 1,500 miles of the state, but 74 miles of the path are in this forest. This forest’s Bradwell Bay area is one of the most difficult on the entire trail because it is a deep swamp forest. Other portions of this trail wind through pine flatwoods and titi swamps.
Length: 1,500 miles
This 9-mile trail starts and ends near Camel Lake in the Camel Lake Recreation Area. This trail first runs through rolling hills before entering pitcher plant bogs and titi swamps. It is a particularly great area to hike in the spring when wildflowers are in bloom.
Length: 9 miles
The Munson Hills Trail is a single-track, dog-friendly loop trail that stretches through beautiful pine forests past ponds and swamps. This trail is popular with mountain bikers but usually isn't too busy. Meadows of wildflowers bloom in the spring, and hikers often see snakes and lizards on the trail.
Length: 8.3 miles
This multi-use trail is accessible to almost everyone. It starts at Trout Pond Trailhead. Do not be surprised if you see gophers, frogs and alligators as you stroll along this trail.
Length: 2.4 miles
This boardwalk runs along the edge of Silver Lake, and it is relatively flat. Enjoy scenic views as you hike this trail surrounded by a longleaf pine and hardwood hammock forest. Many anglers use it to reach areas of Silver Lake that are away from the swimming beach.
Length: 3.6 miles
More species of freshwater fish live in Apalachicola National Forest than any other place in Florida. While fishing is often good year-round, it is the best in the spring and early summer before water temperatures begin to rise. While most fishing is by boat, there are opportunities to fish from shore. Consider heading to Camel, Porter, Wright, or Silver Lakes.
The wide variety of ecosystems at Apalachicola National Forest makes it a terrific place to view nature, including going birdwatching. You may even see one of the endangered animals or birds that live at this park. One of them is the gray bat, which can have a wingspan up to 11-inches long. Endangered birds that you may see include red-cockaded woodpeckers and wood storks.
Almost all the areas around the lakes at Apalachicola National Forest are fantastic places to go stargazing. Many people prefer to go to the Silver Lake area because of the easily accessible parking lot. If you are looking for a more isolated spot for your stargazing experience, consider going to Dog Lake, which is accessible with a short hike from Dog Lake Tower Road. Some prefer this location because you can often build a bonfire on the beach to enjoy during your stargazing.
Address: 11152 Northwest State Route 20 Bristol, Florida 32321
Fee: Entry fees range $0- $75
Fee: Entry fee per vehicle for Silver Lake Recreation Area, Camel Lake and Leon Sinks Geological Area $5
Fee: Annual Pass $50
Fee: Three days of off-road trail use (per person) $10
Fee: Annual pass for off-road trail use (per person) $75
Congress created Apalachicola National Forest in 1932. A great way to see this forest is by driving along the scenic byway running through it. You can also explore numerous parts of it by hiking along the Florida National Scenic Trail. There are many different things to do at this location, including hiking, biking, swimming and fishing. Officials have divided this national forest into two large districts, headquartered in Bristol and Crawfordville. Bring your RV or rent one so that you can easily explore the many areas of this national forest.