Hiking Florida’s Hill Country: Apalachicola River Bluffs at Torreya State Park

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Hiking at Torreya presents a challenging and refreshing change of pace for hikers looking to get away from Florida’s flatter terrain.

 

Appalachicola River at Flood Stage

Located approximately 55 miles west of Tallahassee Florida near the town of Bristol is Torreya State Park. Torreya has over 12,000 acres to explore and several scenic hiking trails that traverse high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River. The landscape of Torreya takes hikers along river bluffs, confederate cannon embankments, limestone ravines, hardwood hammocks, rim swamps filled with tupelo and cypress, and stately pine forests.

Hikers will enjoy numerous aspects of Torreya. The endangered Torreya, Florida Yew, and Queen Magnolia tree are just a few of the magnificent flora that can be found here. Over 100 species of bird also frequent the park, as well as beaver, bobcat, deer, fox, and the Barbours map turtle. The varying terrain provides plenty of elevation changes to keep hikers challenged

The Torreya Trail System

For a short, easy hike, hikers can follow Weeping Ridge Trail a short distance to see the park’s deep ravine, or drive up to the Gregory House overlooking the river and have a stroll on the grounds. Hikers looking for something more robust can follow the 7.3 mile River Bluff Loop Trail and 7.2 mile Rock Creek Loop Trail, also known as Torreya Challenge, to take in almost all of Torreya’s natural features. Primitive campsites are available along each trail for those wishing to rough it.

Gregory House

For Florida, these trails are strenuous and some hikers have compared them to hiking in the lower Appalachians of Georgia. Hiking poles definitely come in handy on many of the steep climbs.

Best Time to Hike at Torreya

The best time to visit Torreya State Park is during the cooler winter months. Hiking during the hot, sweltering days of summer can be brutal even for persons acclimated to Florida’s heat and humidity, and the park is absent of swimming holes to cool off in. Autumn brings an array of colors to the trees of Torreya, making it one of the best places to be during the fall. Cooler weather also offers a reprieve from mosquitoes and other insects.

Hikers at Torreya State Park

When planning a visit during the summer be sure to carry plenty of water while exploring the numerous trails. Ultralight hikers may want to bring a water filtration bottle and just top it off at one of the many creeks found along the trails. While hiking, maintain a slow steady pace, rest frequently and stay hydrated in order to avoid heat related illness.

After a long day on the trail hikers can retreat to the Weeping Ridge Campground in the park to relax and enjoy the incredible view from the overlook. An air conditioned bathhouse is available to campers, and during inclement weather there is ample room in the ranger station to hole up until the weather improves.

Overlook at Weeping Ridge

Additional Resources:

Florida State Parks

 

 

 

 

This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill

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About Beverly Hill

Beverly is a deputy clerk with the Florida court system and is an experienced writer in her free time. Her love of adventure and the outdoors is what fuels her desire to seek out new and exciting things.
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