The Sopchoppy River is a minor river that originates in the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida's Big Bend region. On its way south to the Gulf of Mexico, it flows into the Ochlockonee River and becomes part of an important estuary network at Ochlockonee Bay. The small, historic town of Sopchoppy, based in 1894 and currently with a population of less than 500 people, sits on the banks of the Sopchoppy River. The town's park does not amount to much when one thinks of hiking trails, but its short nature trail leads to and along the river, allowing visitors to see the blackwater river and the habitats found along it up-close. This hike occurred on Monday, December 28th, 2015. My plan was to simply hike the short nature trail from the Sopchoppy City Park to some views of the Sopchoppy River.
R/T Length of Trail: At least 0.3 Miles
Duration of Hike: 0:20
Type of Hike: Out and back
Difficulty Rating: 1 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: Minimal
Cons: Slightly confusing, unsigned nature trails
Points of Interest: Several views of the Sopchoppy River from main nature trail
Trail Blaze Color(s): None
Best Season(s) to Hike: Year-round
Beginning Point: Myron B. Hodge City Park
Directions: This hike is located inside the city limits of Sopchoppy, FL. From the junction of US Route 319 and Rose Street in Sopchoppy, follow Rose Street westward through the center of Sopchoppy. 0.6 miles from the junction, turn left onto Camellia Avenue. In about 350 feet, turn left onto Dickson Street, and in another 350 feet, turn right onto Park Avenue. Follow Park Avenue for 0.8 miles. The entrance to Myron B. Hodge City Park will be to your right.
Due to the short nature of this hike, I did not record a GPS track of this hike on a map. If you would like me to show you where the trail goes on a map, feel free to contact me.
Originally on this day, I had planned to do a hike along the Ochlockonee River to the head of the estuary known as Ochlockonee Bay. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, all I was able to fit in was this short exploration of the banks of the Sopchoppy River. Still, I was glad to be able to do something.
It seems like Myron B. Hodge City Park doesn't advertise its nature trails that much. The start of the trail is unsigned, and other intersections farther on have unclear endings. The nature trail starts as a boardwalk across a cove adjacent to the Sopchoppy River. The black waters of the river and in the cove are clearly visible from the boardwalk. The boardwalk ends on a steep-sided bank of the Sopchoppy River. There are great views of the river through the trees. Shortly afterward, the trail reaches a small tributary of the river at a viewpoint of the river. A trail continues across the tributary via footbridge straight, and another trail bears right. Both are unsigned. This point appears to be the end of the official trail, at 0.15 miles. However, the footbridge ahead beckons for more exploration. If you choose to continue farther, the trail continues on a rooty track along the banks of the river for perhaps 5 minutes, with several good viewpoints, before leaving the river and entering a marshy area. Without proper footwear and fading daylight, I wasn't able to continue any exploration, but a look at the map that this trail is now a loop that ends back at the footbridge. Even if you do not wish to continue on the loop, you may find rewarding a simple walk 0.3 miles out and back to the viewpoint at the tributary. On your way back, take a few more glances at the dark river.
Consider extending the hike by following the trail beyond the tributary viewpoint.
There are hiking trails, up to 2.5 miles long, at nearby Ochlockonee River State Park.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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