Welcome to Eco-adventure in Franklin County!
Create endless adventures in Franklin County where world-class wildlife viewing, fishing, and paddling opportunities await you. Eighty-one percent of the county is publicly owned conservation land, protecting vast areas of one of the nation's six hotstpots of biodiversity. Bring binoculars and a camera to capture scenic vistas and abundant wildlife. Plan your visit during the cooler months when the crowds leave, temperatures are perfect for outdoor adventure and the bugs are fewer.
The Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2008. Paddlers at all levels of ability enjoy scenic waterways on 11 canoeing and kayaking trails. Nearly 100 miles of marked trails meander through the estuary of the Apalachicola River, flowing into open bays of the Gulf of Mexico. Distances range from short, easy trips to multi-day trips with primitive camping.
The Apalachicola River Blueway flows 107 miles from the Jim Woodruff Dam to its mouth under the John Gorrie Bridge in Apalachicola. The pristine natural resources are home to abundant species of wildlife making the river's watershed one of six national biodiversity hotspots in the country! The scenery is magnificent, and the river, sloughs, coves, and bluffs are delightful to explore. Numerous meandering, narrow, creeks flow through vast tracts of Apalachicola National Forest making excellent paddling destinations.
Apalachicola River Blueway is a National Recreation Trail
For other paddling trails in the area visit Office of Greenways & Trails Designated Paddling Trails
Tate's Hell State Forest, covering over 200,000 acres of public land, is bordered on the west by the Apalachicola River and on the east by the Ochlockonee River. The forest offers numerous creeks and rivers for paddling opportunities. The scenic New River runs through a wild and remote area before it merges with the Crooked River. Both rivers provide primitive campsites and offer excellent opportunities for fishing, paddling, and wildlife viewing.
A pleasant hike on the Coastal High Bluff Trail on Highway 98, west of Carrabelle, provides an easy stroll through coastal scrub habitat. Saunter along an ancient dune system that climbs to an elevation with a colorful array of seasonal wildflowers and views of St. George Sound
Where to Stay
A wealth of lodging options ranging from primitive camping, beach rentals, to luxury accomodations are found in Franklin County
Apalachicola, once the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico, echoes with memories of an era once filled with steamboats and schooners, railroads and lumber mills. There are more than 900 historic homes, buildings and sites in the city's Historic District. Apalachicola is considered a “distinctive destination” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation based on its unique character, charm and dedication to historic preservation. Apalachicola's maritime culture is best reflected along its working waterfront where you'll see bustling seafood houses, weather-worn shrimp boats and stately brick buildings that once served as 19th century chandleries, net factories and warehouses. Eclectic boutiques, galleries and restaurants are tucked into nooks and crannies throughout the historic downtown commercial district. Stop by the Visitor Center and grab a map to enjoy a walking tour of the colorful historic district.
Historic Gibson Inn
The Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay provide excellent fishing opportunities for both fresh and salt water fishing buffs. Visit Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to learn more and purchase permits on-line
ST. GEORGE ISLAND - St. George Island is a 22-mile barrier island that represents Franklin County's premiere vacation getaway destination. The island features uncrowded beaches, a historic lighthouse and pristine bay marshes with extraordinary wildlife and sunset viewing. Rent a kayak, boat, bicycle or scooter. George Island is one of the few beaches that allows pets, and many of the vacation homes are pet-friendly. Some of the restaurants permit you to dine outside with your pet.
St George Island State Park
For three years in a row the St. George Island State Park ranked on Dr. Beach's list of the top 10 best beaches in the USA. In 2013, the Park Beaches ranked #3. The St George Island State Park offers nine miles of undeveloped shoreline, majestic dunes, a bay forest and salt marshes. The park has a series of hiking trails, boardwalks and observation platforms. The 1,962 acre park also offers a full facility family campground featuring 60 campsites, and a youth camp for group camping.
The St. George Lighthouse hosts monthly full moon climbs and visitors enjoy sunset and moonrise from the top.
ALLIGATOR POINT - Alligator Point is a sparsely populated coastal jewel located at the eastern-most end of Franklin County. This narrow beach peninsula boasts eight miles of quiet shoreline and unparalled fishing. The “Point,” as it is referred to by locals, is nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Alligator Harbor, a pristine estuary known for its clam harvesting. The Point is flanked on one end by the Bald Point State Park a 5,000 acre protected wildlife area nationally acclaimed as a bi-annual stopover for migrating birds and butterflies.
EASTPOINT - Eastpoint is the seafood hub of Franklin County where oystermen bring their heavy burlap bags of freshly harvested Apalachicola Bay oysters to be washed, shucked, packed and transported across the country. Eastpoint's commercial seafood district stretches nearly a mile along Hwy 98 overlooking St. George Sound and hugging the narrow coastline behind a protective breakwater. That breakwater shields the coast and the fleet of weathered wooden oyster skiffs moored just offshore. Eastpoint is an authentic fishing town where you can buy fresh local seafood from family-owned markets and eat a fresh seafood meal from restaurants operated by families four generations deep.
CARRABELLE - Carrabelle is considered the Gateway to the Gulf because of its easy access to offshore fishing and boating. It is the site of the annual Big Bend Saltwater Classic. Unpretentious and friendly, Carrabelle is the place to experience small town nostalgia including a photo opportunity at the world's smallest police station on US 98. Explore the Camp Gordon Johnston Museum to learn the story of how troops trained on the beaches of Franklin County for the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in World War II. The nearby Crooked River Lighthouse reminds you of the town's maritime importance.
Historic photo of Crooked River Lighthouse
Eastpoint is considered the Gateway to St. George Island and features a popular fishing bridge that parallels the bridge to St. George Island. To the north, Eastpoint is a gateway to the Apalachicola National Forest and Tate's Hell State Forest through scenic Highwy 65 - part of the Big Bend Scenic Byway. Highway 65 is famous for spring and fall wildflowers and borders large 'savannahs' of fascinating carnivorous pitcher plants. Eastpoint is also home to the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR) and Visitor Center. Considered one of the state's premier research and education facilities, the ANERR facility features a visitor center complete with fish tanks, interactive displays and ongoing public education programs and activities.