Apalachicola National Forest
Apalachicola Ranger District
11152 NW State Route 20
Bristol, Florida 32321
Wakulla Ranger District
57 Taff Drive
Crawfordville, FL 32327
The Apalachicola National Forest is
the largest forest in Florida at 571,088 acres, which includes 2,735
aces of water.
The Forest is located in the panhandle of
Florida, near Tallahassee. Six watersheds within the Apalachicola
provide an abundance of fresh water to streams. rivers, lakes and one
In addition to the numerous water recreation
opportunities, the forest offers several other attractions such as,
Leon Sinks, an unusual geological area of caverns and sinkholes.
Two wilderness areas will give you an idea what
Florida looked like before "civilization" arrived. And the
Forest harbors one of the last remaining longleaf pine/wiregrass
communities still in existence. For history or Civil War buffs, a
visit to Fort Gadsden is a must.
Camel Lake, Silver Lake and Wright Lake are the
three main developed recreation areas on the Apalachicola National
Forest. For specific information about any of these areas select a tab
above or visit the Hiking section for information on trails.
Camel Lake Recreation Area is small and quiet
and surrounded by natural scenic beauty. The campground and day use
areas are tucked away in a longleaf pine and scrub oak setting.
Camel Lake is the focal point of the recreation
area. The lake and white sand beach attracts swimmers, boaters and
anglers. Hikers will enjoy the nearby Florida National Scenic Trail.
From I-10, to Bristol, take County Road 12 South. Turn left (east)
on Forest Road 105 and drive 2 miles to campground entrance.
Silver Lake Recreation Area is in the Munson
Sandhills, which are composed of deep dry sands over limestone.
Because the sand absorbs rainfall so completely, wetlands are
relatively rare on the Apalachicola National Forest. In some places on
the Forest, the limestone dissolves and collapses, forming many
depressions, ponds, lakes and sinkholes. Surrounding spring-fed Silver
Lake, are longleaf pine, hardwood hammock and moss draped cypress
trees. Bald eagles turtles, bears, alligators and songbirds are
abundant at Silver Lake.
The recreation area is open year-round.
From I-10 to Tallahassee go through the
intersection of State Highways 263 and 20. Follow SH 20 west
approximately 4 miles, then south onto County Road 260. Go about 4
miles and turn left at the Silver Lake sign.
Wright Lake Campground is a quiet scenic
lakefront recreation area that offers a host of amenities and
activities for campers and day-trippers. The clear, spring fed lake is
perfect for fishing, swimming and boating. Swimmers can enjoy the
white sand beach. A nearby bathhouse includes flush toilets and hot
Picnic tables and grills are scattered among
trees with views of the lake. The campground includes 18 campsites
with picnic tables, grills, tent pads and fire rings. The recreation
area is fairly level and easily accessible. Hikers can enjoy a 5-mile
interpretive trail that circles the lake. A volunteer host lives on
To get to Wright Lake take State Route
65 to Franklin County and 1.5 miles south of the Liberty County line.
Turn west on Forest Road 101 for 1.5 miles and turn right on the
entrance road to Wright Lake Campground.
Overview and Background
There are many picnic areas throughout the
forest. Most areas have individual picnic tables and grills. Picnic
areas are associated with developed sites, campgrounds, swimming
areas, boat ramps, and special attractions, such as the Leon Sinks
Geological Area. Camel Lake or Silver Lake Recreation Areas, and Fort
Gadsden Historic Area also have picnic shelters.
Fees: Some areas
Places to Picnic
- Camel Lake Recreation Area
- Ft. Gadsden Historical Site
- Hickory Landing and Hunt Camp
- Leon Sinks Geological Area
- Mack Landing and Hunt Camp
- Porter Lake and Hunt Camp
- Silver Lake Recreation Area
- Whitehead Landing and Hunt Camp
- Wood Lake Hunt Camp
- Wright Lake Recreation Area
Overview and Background
Like many of the National Forests in the south,
the Apalachicola NF began as some of "the lands nobody
wanted" - land that had been cut-over, denuded, or farmed to
exhaustion. Some parcels were acquired during the great depression
when many people couldn't pay the taxes on their land.
Other parcels were bought outright by Franklin
D. Roosevelt's Resettlement Administration, a new deal program aimed
at moving families to lands better suited for cultivation. President
Roosevelt created the Apalachicola National Forest in 1936 on lands
west of the Ochlockonee River, and in 1938 expanded it to include
lands east of the Ochlockonee to give it the shape it has today.
Of course, people have been living on these
lands since time out of mind. Prehistoric sites date back to Paleo-Indians
12,000 years ago, and Native Americans hunted these forests and fished
the waters since before recorded history.
They were here when the Spanish first explored
Florida in the 1600s, and when the first white settlers built their
"cracker" homesteads in the swamps and flatwoods. Their ways
have come down to us in the use of fire to manage the forest and
wildlife, and their language lives on in words like Apalachicola,
Wakulla, and Ochlockonee.
There are few prehistoric sites of interest for
visitors, but the Apalachicola contains some historic sites well worth
Langston House (Wakulla County)
Overview: An old
farm homestead about a mile in from the Ochlockonee River, the
Langston House is a great example of old cracker architecture in its
original setting, built around the turn of the century (circa 1904),
although the land has been farmed with the mid-1800s. It's provided
important clues about the life of Florida's earliest, poorest
settlers. It is not a restored building and is being left to
deteriorate naturally, but is considered a protected site.
Tallahassee, take State Route 20 west, then left onto State Route 375
heading south. Approximately 2 miles south of the intersection with
Forest Highway 13, turn right at the sign for the Florida National
Scenic Trail and park at the trailhead. A short trail will take you to
Recreation Site Amenities:
Ft. Gadsden (Franklin County)
Overview: The site
of an old British fort on the Apalachicola River, Ft. Gadsden is
notable as being the scene of a mass tragedy. The British-built fort
posed a threat to any American vessels traveling the river. In the
face of an imminent American attack, over 300 escaped and freed slaves
and many local Indians took refuge in the fort.
On July 27, Col. Duncan Clinch ordered his
gunboat to fire on the fort. One of the early shots from the ship's
guns landed on a ammunition shed inside the fort, resulting in a
massive explosion which left only 33 survivors to tell the tale.
Nothing remains of the fort except the rubble from the fort's stone
walls. A short interpretive trail leads visitors around the site.
Tallahassee, take State Road 20 west to Hosford, turn left on State
Road 65. Follow SR 65 into Franklin County. Turn right onto Forest
Road 129-B into historic Fort Gadsden.
Small museum building with diorama of the fort.
Views of the Apalachicola River.
Recreation Site Amenities:
Short trail around the site of the old fort
Picnic shelter with tables
Former Bradwell Game Farm (Liberty County)
at the northern edge of the forest on State Highway 20, the former
Bradwell Game Farm was a tract of private land acquired by the Forest
Service in 1996. The previous landowner, Carl Bradwell, Sr. stocked
deer and other small game for sport. This practice was discontinued
upon his death. This 1,400 acre site is now a special quota hunting
area. Some of the original buildings remain on site.
Tallahassee, take State Route 20 across the Ochlockonee River. Look
for a corrugated tin fence with graffiti marking the property boundary
on the left. Turn left into the entrance. (No sign at entrance.)
Licensed vehicles allowed on main entrance road
Recreation Site Amenities: none
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