Over one million visitors annually enjoy the open spaces and solitude of Florida State Forests through a menagerie of experiences.
Hunting, fishing, OHV riding, camping, paddling, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and swimming all provide endless educational and recreational experiences for visitors of all ages.
Beginning in the year 1935, legislation authorized the Florida Board of Forestry to manage state forests and parks acquired by the federal government and turned over to the state for development and maintenance. Pine Log State Forest was established as Florida’s first state forest in 1936. Located in Bay and Washington counties, it encompasses 6,960 acres. For 80 years the Florida Forest Service has guided the operation of state forests with the primary mission to restore and maintain the biological diversity of native ecosystems found on the forests while providing public access and integrating sustainable use of the resources. Currently there are 37 state forests totaling over 1,068,000 acres. October 2016 marks the 80 year celebration of the Florida State Forest system. The Tallahassee Forestry Center manages three of these state forests.
Lake Talquin State Forest covers approximately 19,400 acres in Leon, Gadsden, Liberty and Wakulla counties. The forest is composed of several tracts of land most of which are adjacent to Lake Talquin and the Ochlocknee River. The diverse topography includes both ravine slopes and high river bluffs providing for rich trail hiking experiences. Visitors can enjoy camping, hunting, horseback riding, hiking, biking, and picnicking all in a natural Florida setting.
Wakulla State Forest encompasses nearly 4,900 acres located just outside Crawfordville on Highway 267. Wakulla State Forest has been committed to the protection of Wakulla Springs water quality, ecosystem restoration, and outdoor recreation. Recreational opportunities include hiking, biking, birdwatching, hunting , and horseback riding. The Nemours Hiking Trail crosses 1.75 miles through a mixed pine/hardwood forest, pine plantation, wildlife openings, and a hardwood slough. The Double Springs Multi-Use Trail is 4.5 miles long where riders and hikers will experience low water crossings, inclines, and winding trails.
Tates Hell State Forest is located just outside Carrabelle between the Apalachicola and Ochlocknee Rivers. The forest, spanning approximately 202,500 acres, contains a myriad of flatwoods and savannahs featuring a detailed resume of creeks and wetlands that provide a large variety of recreational opportunities.
The avid paddler can explore the many waterways that run through the forest. Blackwater rivers that run to the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as quiet places await the visitor on the Ochlocknee, Crooked, and New Rivers. Primitive campsites are dispersed throughout the forest catering to old fashioned southern relaxing. The High Bluff Coastal Hiking Trail, the Dwarf Cypress Boardwalk, and the Off-Highway Vehicle Trail system are all highlights for any visitor.
October is State Forest Awareness Month and marks the 80 year anniversary of the Florida State Forest system. Take time out to visit one of these beautiful state forests in the Tallahassee area. The memories they create will follow you all year long. For more information on recreation on Florida State Forests call (850) 681-5963 or visit www.floridaforestservice.com