More than 265,000 acres of recreational opportunities await the outdoor enthusiast
Eglin Air Force Base Reservation is much more than the largest AFB in the free world. Within its 464,000 acres, more than 265,000 are open for public recreation. Activities such as fresh water fishing, hunting, camping, biking, canoeing/kayaking, hiking await outdoor enthusiasts.
More than 17,000 permits are issued each year at Eglin’s Natural Resources Branch Jackson Guard office. Annual recreation passes are $12, fishing/recreation $20, hunting $55, sportsman’s combo $65, with fees at $20 for active or retired military. Ten day Consecutive permit (resident or nonresident) $25. Other fees for specialized hunts are also available (check the regulation guide). Click here for more info
Address: 107 Highway 85 North, Niceville FL 32578 (just north of Hwy. 20). Tel: (850) 882-4165 or (850) 882-4166
Office hours are:
Mon. – Thurs. 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Fri. 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat. 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Sunday and federal holidays closed
Eglin has many improvements in the works including upgrades to the recreation areas along with the launch of a new website soon. The site will it make it easier for the user to acquire permits, understand the regulations, and a web application posting the daily closings. Currently anyone embarking on Eglin must phone in prior to entering to find out where the closed areas are located. (This site will be updated when Eglin’s new website access is available).
Currently one of the largest improvements under construction is at Anderson Pond. The area is a critical habitat for the endangered Okaloosa darter (Etheostoma okaloosae), a small fish with a range of only six tributary systems in the lower Choctawhatchee Bay drainage. In 1960, Anderson Branch creek was dammed off for the pond, closing the habitat connection of the darter. Eglin is currently restoring the creek connection and including camping areas along with 12+ tent pads, a picnic area, and boardwalks.
In addition, Eglin is improving canoe accesses and currently working on the Turkey creek access at Gooden Bridge off of Range Road 232. Improvements include improved access to the water along with a parking lot in the works.
Rules and regulations are strictly enforced at Eglin as the base’s security is vital to our national defense. The base works hard at making the reservation compatible for the outdoor enthusiast, but enforces its boundaries so as not to jeopardize security. Military missions often require the closure of large portions of areas open to public access. The regulations are a bit complex, however the large guide and map which Eglin provides is comprehensive.
17 freshwater ponds ranging from 4 – 40 acres are available for fishing at Eglin Reservation. You must possess FWC fishing license in addition to an Eglin permit unless you are fishing with a cane pole in the county you reside. Fishing access is authorized from 2 hours before sunrise to 2 hours after sunset. Hurlburt Lake may be fished during daylight hours only.
The hunting season at Eglin parallels the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s seasons for Wildlife Management Areas and you must possess an FWC hunting license. Eglin may at any time shorten the season as necessary to retain game population. Refer to the regulation guide for check in points and areas with specific hunting availability. There are several check in stations located at three locations on the reservation, refer to the regulation guide. Eglin also takes measurements and retains jawbones of deer kills for wildlife management purposes.
There are several great creeks to explore on the reservation with the most popular being Boiling Creek, Juniper Creek, Turkey Creek, Rocky Creek, Alaqua Creek and the Yellow River which offers primitive camping along its banks. Jackson Guard offers a canoe trail guide for those interested. Below are two links to stories:
Boiling Creek and Yellow River paddle
Turkey Creek paddle
Recreational hiking, biking and primitive camping are available at several locations throughout Eglin Reservation. The Florida Scenic Trail runs through Eglin Reservation as well. You can obtain a detailed map of the Florida Trail http://www.floridatrail.org/
For more information, call Jackson Guard at (850) 882-4165 or (850) 882-4166.