Hike, camp along the Apalachicola River bluffs at Torreya State Park

Endangered Torreya (Torreya taxifolia). Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Endangered Torreya (Torreya taxifolia). Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Step back in time and explore nature at this beautiful Florida State park

Tucked away off the beaten path 13 miles north of Bristol, is the beautiful Torreya State Park. Perched 150 feet above Apalachicola River bluffs, this park offers plentiful scenery for the nature lover and day hiker.

Torreya State Park was named after the endangered Torreya (Torreya taxifolia), a tree that was once plentiful within the park. More than 60 years ago, a fungal blight almost wiped out the tree, leaving only a handful of these pines left. These lovely conifers can now only be found along the high bluffs of the river.

Developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, Torreya is popular for camping, hiking, and picnicking. For those not familiar with CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for thousands of young men in need of work during the Great Depression. Their labor, in turn, helped create some of Florida’s first state parks.

Stone bridge built by

The CCC built this beautiful stone bridge at the base of the ravine. The bridge can be seen while hiking the main trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

You can explore a bit of Civil War history and tour the Gregory House at the park, however the real gems are its trails and the stellar overlooks of the river.  The Apalachicola River Bluffs Trail offers a view of the river, Confederate gun pits, bluffs and hardwood forests. The Weeping Ridge Trail provides a pleasant walk in one of the park’s deep ravines. The Torreya Challenge, a seven-mile loop hiking trail meanders through the park, exposing the hiker to virtually all the park’s natural features. These trails are part of the Florida National Scenic Trail and are maintained by Florida Trail Association volunteers. For a printable trail map, click here.

Two hikers head down the ravine at Torreya State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Two hikers head down the ravine at Torreya State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

An array of animals commonly found are deer, beaver, bobcat, gray fox and the unusual Barbours map turtle. The U.S. Champion big leaf magnolia, the rare Florida yew tree and many other rare plants are found in the park. Bird watching is also a popular activity, with more than 100 species of birds being spotted in the park.

Camping, amenities:
The full-facility campground offers 30 sites suitable for RVers (maximum RV length 40 ft.) and tent campers. The park offers a YURT (Year round Universal Recreational Tent), primitive campsites and two youth campgrounds, playground, three large picnic pavilions with BBQ grills and picnic tables.

The yurt accommodates five people and includes air conditioning/heating, skylight, futon with bunk twin bed on top, queen-size bed, table, chairs and a deck. The cracker cabin accommodates six people. It has a queen-size bed and four bunks, air conditioning/heating, table, chairs and a deck.

Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica or call (800) 326-3521 (8  a.m. to 8  p.m.).

Camping, primitive: Three primitive camping areas are available. Call the park at 850-643-2674 to make reservations for primitive sites. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Pets are not allowed overnight in primitive sites.

Rock Bluff site is located approximately 1.5 miles hike from nearest parking area and will accommodate up to 16 people. Site includes four fire rings and benches. Firewood is available and a portable toilet is nearby. Campers must pack in and pack out all supplies. Potable water is not available at the site. Campers must register at least one hour before sunset.

Rock Creek site is located approximately 1 mile from the nearest parking area and accommodates up to 16 people. Site details: Four fire rings, benches, firewood available. Port-o-let, potable water and restrooms are available at the trailhead. Campers must register at least one hour before sunset.

Torreya Challenge site: Located approximately 3.5 miles from nearest parking area, the site accommodates up to 16 people. Site details: Four fire rings, benches, firewood is available. Port-o-let is located in the site. Potable water is available at the trailhead. Campers must register at least four hours before sunset.

Ranger-guided tours are given at 10: a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4  p.m. on weekends and state holidays. The house is currently furnished with articles from the mid-1850s.

Torreya State Park is located off S.R. 12. on C.R. 1641, 13 miles north of Bristol. 2576 N.W. Torreya Park Road Bristol, Florida 32321 (850) 643-2674 ::MAP::

For more info, go to the park’s website at: floridastateparks.org/torreya/

 

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