Located 14 miles north of Panama City, Florida in Pine Log State Forest are several hiking, biking and horse trails just waiting to be explored. In particular, the Dutch Tieman trail, named after the park’s first ranger, Edgar “Dutch” Tieman, is a multi-use trail designated for hikers and cyclists. This 5.5 mile long loop trail winds through longleaf pine, hardwood hammocks, and past cypress swamps giving visitors a peek into wild Florida.
Hikers and cyclists aren’t the only visitors to these trails. Deer, turkey and wild hog frequent Pine Log as well as some of Florida’s more endangered and threatened species such as the Gopher tortoises and Flatwoods salamander. It takes a keen eye to spot some of these animals, especially when hiking through the saw palmettos.
The Dutch Tieman trail has about five benches scattered throughout the trail and they are a welcome sight for the weary hiker. The trail starts at Sand Pond campground near two ponds, one a cypress pond and the other more suitable for swimming depending on water levels. The trail then winds outward skirting the park boundary of the park before delving into the interior. There are several park road crossings, but the trail is well marked with blue blazes making it easy to stay on track.
In addition to the Dutch Tieman trail, an 8 mile portion of the Florida Trail is accessible at the Sand Pond trailhead as well as a 2 mile campground trail. On the east side of the park visitors can access the 8 mile Crooked Creek Bike Trail and 2 mile shortcut. On the opposite side of Hwy 79 across from Sand Pond is the Old Sawmill Trail. This is an 12.5 mile loop trail designated for horses and also requires a $1 per person fee.
Best Time to Visit Pine Log State Forest
Hiking in Florida is best done during the cooler months, October through March. The heat and humidity of summer can wear down even the most seasoned hikers at times, not to mention the non-stop assault of insects. No matter what time of year, always carry plenty of drinking water.
The park is located at 5583-A Longleaf Road just south of Ebro off of Hwy 79. At time of publication admission to the park is $2 per vehicle using the honor system. Visitors can opt to stay and camp at the any one of the 20 campsites available for $4. Stays are limited to 14 days.
Pine Log became Florida’s first state forest in 1936.
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