The Leon Sinks Geological Area is in the northeast corner of Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee. This fascinating area is home to over a dozen sinkholes, many of which have water in them. Particularly Hammock Sink is one of the most beautiful and photogenic natural sights in the region. The trail system at Leon Sinks also visits a disappearing stream with a natural bridge as well as a series of cypress swamps. Numerous points of interest are spaced throughout the 4.5-mile loop to keep your attention focused the entire hike. This hike occurred on Saturday, January 6th, 2018. My plan was to hike a counter-clockwise loop with the Sinkhole Trail and Gum Swamp Trail.
Most hikers of the Tallahassee area have heard of or even been to Leon Sinks. How many have heard of Wakulla River Sinks though? Along with adjacent Apalachicola National Forest, the River Sinks Tract - a lesser-known parcel of Wakulla Springs State Park - holds nearly two dozen water-filled sinkholes. The sinks serve as a portal to the mysterious underground water-filled cave system that eventually connects to the Wakulla River to the southeast. An official trail called the Wakulla River Sinks Trail passes by several small sinks, including the photogenic Clearcut Sink. If one extends their hike along the unofficial pathway that splits off and leads to a series of bigger sinks, including Promise Sink and Upper River Sink, they are bound to be astounded! This hike occurred on Saturday, January 6th, 2018. My plan was to hike the official Wakulla River Sinks Trail clockwise. Along the way, I would make out-and-back side trips to Clearcut Sink and along an unofficial trail to a series of sinks to the south.
Prospect Bluff, located on the east side of the Apalachicola River deep in present-day Apalachicola National Forest, is the site of two forts, including Fort Gadsden, which had remained there until 1821, when Florida became a US territory. At the time, no highways or railroads existed, so the fort was located in a strategic spot at a high point near the Apalachicola River, which used to be the main transportation route for the area. Traces of the old fort can still be seen today on this short hike, and the Fort Gadsden Interpretive Area has detailed information regarding the history of this site. This hike occurred on Saturday, August 20th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Fort Gadsden Nature Trail counter-clockwise. This trail is also known as the Wiregrass-Genetian Trail, named for a rare wildflower that can be seen in the woods near Prospect Bluff.
Nearly 80 miles of the Florida Trail pass through Apalachicola National Forest, Florida's largest national forest. At the very northwest end of the forest is Camel Lake, a small natural lake with a campground and a developed recreation area. On its route through the forest, the Florida Trail passes near Camel Lake. Nearby, an alternate trail called the Trail of Lakes can be used to loop this section of the FT. On this loop hike, you will visit two lakes, pass several blackwater streams, and hike through miles of sandhills topped by rows of pine trees. This hike occurred on Sunday, April 17, 2016. My plan was to hike the Trail of Lakes Loop clockwise.
Coming in at over 600,000 acres, Apalachicola National Forest is Florida's largest national forest - it is the home to the famed Bradwell Bay Wilderness, one of the wildest swamps in Florida. While the forest may be best-known for the large swamp expanse of Bradwell Bay, it is also home to an uncommon sight - numerous pitcher plant bogs scattered throughout the area. One particular hiking trail, the Wright Lake Loop, visits several of these pitcher plant bogs in the western section of the forest that are easy to get to. However, after a month of historical rains, they may not be quite so easy to get to. This hike occurred on Thursday, December 31, 2015. My plan was to hike the entire Wright Lake Loop, but due to impassable sections of trail with pretty severe flooding ongoing in all of the nearby creeks, I was forced to abandon my plan and hike merely a small segment of the Wright Lake Loop.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 468.7 Miles