Friday, January 23, 2009

Late Winter Perfect Time to Hike Tate's Hell State Forest

With hundreds of thousands of protected acres to explore, hiking opportunities abound in Franklin County. And late winter is the perfect time to lace up those hiking boots and enjoy North Florida's rugged wilderness without the bugs or heat.

At Tate's Hell State Forest, the High Bluff Coastal Hiking Trail winds six miles through the forest, often paralleling St. George Sound. Informative visitor education exhibits are located along the trail and cover fire, coastal scrub ecosystems and the turpentine industry. Of special note, hikers can see the natural phenomenon of the dwarf cypress trees, which grow no more than 15 feet tall even though they are 150 years old, and are unique to the area.

These cypress wetlands coexist with five sulfur springs and several ponds formed by old borrow pits. Along the way, hikers can view these unique trees and the hydrology restoration program from an elevated boardwalk and observation tower.

The Florida Division of Forestry estimates Tate's Hell Forest contains more than 200,000 acres of hydric communities - prairie, wet Flatwoods, strand swamp, bottomland, bay gall and flood plain swamp - each providing ample plant-viewing opportunities.

Franklin County Florida Tourist Development Council

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