A –Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Santa Rosa, Florida
B – Fort Pickens NP Campground, Gulf Breeze, Florida
C – Blackwater River State Park, Holt, Florida
D – Torreya State Park, Bristol, Florida
E – Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida
F – Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach, Florida
(A) Friday, Feb 28 to Wed, Mar, 5 – Topsail Hill Preserve SP, Santa Rosa, FL
Topsail Hill SP was just a 10 mile drive down the road from Grayton Beach SP!!
Topsail Hill SP was once a private RV resort and they are still maintaining that atmosphere. All the sites are paved, 50amp FHU. There is a pool, laundry and camp store.
We had a nice site, #123, in the back corner of the campground.
(B) Wed, Mar, 5 to Wed, Mar 19 – Fort Pickens NP , Gulf Breeze, FL
Fort Pickens is a beautiful place, but we were here at the wrong time and in the wrong campground. We reserved 2 weeks as we figured this would be one of our favorite campgrounds.
Unfortunately, the weather was just too cold and rainy to enjoy the beautiful beaches or go fishing;o(( Also, we were in loop C of the larger campground which was very tight with very small sites.
If we come back, we would only come if we could get a site in Loop A, the smaller campground.
One other note… do not come during Spring Break!!
Now having said all the bad stuff, let me share a few photos of this beautiful place.
(C) Wed, Mar 19 to Sun, Mar 23 – Blackwater River SP, Holt, FL
This is a little gem of a campground in the State Park System. It has recently been remodeled and has all new FHU sites and a beautiful new bath house!! They are in the process of remodeling the day use area as well. Make note, there are two loops in the campground. We were on site 18 in the loop without a playground… much quieter;o))
Unfortunately, all the rain we had at Fort Pickens came through here as well and swelled the banks of the Blackwater River to overflowing. We drove through about a foot of water to get to the campground which sits up on a ridge above the river fortunately:-)
All of our northern stops across the Panhandle are just for 4 nights each. We wanted to check out different things at different parks. Our reason for coming here was to kayak the Blackwater River and ride the Blackwater Heritage Bike Trail. Unfortunately, there would be no kayaking the river while we were here;o(( But we did get to ride the bike trail.
(D) Sun, Mar 23 to Thurs, Mar 27 – Torreya SP, Bristol, FL
We chose Torreya SP because of the hiking. The hikes at Torreya are described as Appalachian style hikes… Yep, they were…lots of Ups and Downs!! You did not think you were in Florida!!
Torreya State Park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. The campground is small and more rustic than others. Big Rigs need to be selective about their site selection. We were in Site 16 and just fit even though the site is 60 feet long. Much of the site is just not useable. If we returned, we would probably choose sites 25-29. They are much more level, wide and 50amp:o))
There are two trails as long as 7 miles (the orange trails) and some short spur trails (the blue trails) as well. You do not feel like you are in Florida, but rather in the Appalachian Mountains. There are deep ravines, streams, red sandstone cliffs and bluffs that overlook the Apalachicola river, Florida’s largest river. The park is named for the extremely rare species of Torreya tree that only grows on the bluffs along the Apalachicola River.
Bill and I hiked the lower half of the trail that circles the campground the first day! We left from the campground, walked to the Picnic Area and using blue trails hiked to Stone Bridge. There we picked up the Orange Trail and followed it clockwise to MM1.5 where we picked up the Blue Trail back to the campground. It was a total of 6.5 miles. Day Two, we hike the other half of the Orange Trail from MM1.5 to Stone Bridge and back to the campground. That hike was 5.5 miles.
Both hikes were quite strenuous and really reminded us of hiking in Acadia NP!!! It was so hard to believe we were in Florida with all the ups, downs and changing environments.
(E) Thurs, Mar 27 to Mon, Mar 31 – Suwannee River SP, Live Oak, FL
This was our first trip to Suwannee River SP. Our reason for coming was to kayak the Suwannee River. Well… again, because of all the rain, that was not going to happen;o)) The Boat Launch is closed;o((
Normally, the Suwannee River is a slow moving, lazy river… but right now, it is over it banks and running at about 8 mph. No way you could paddle against that current!!
(F) Mon, Mar 31 to Fri, Apr 4– Fort Clinch SP, Fernandina Beach, FL
Our last stop for the winter is at Fort Clinch State Park which is located in the northeastern most point of Florida. It is directly across Cumberland Sound from Cumberland Island, Georgia. Other than our 3 beautiful days at Disney World back in early February, our 4 days here were the best weather we had this winter. It couldn’t have happened at a better time!!!