Florida Trail announces closures across the Panhandle

October 20, 2018

Oct. 20, 2018 – The Panhandle region continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and its devastating impact. The Florida Trail is closed within the following land management units until further notice:

• Pine Log State Forest
• Econfina Creek Water Management Area
• Chipola Water Management Area
• Blountstown Greenway
• Apalachicola National Forest
• St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

These areas remain closed as our land management partners work to assess damage, clear roads, restore basic infrastructure, make repairs, and ensure visitor safety. Over the coming weeks– following confirmation from land management partners that these places are secure for us to access– FTA staff and volunteers will work to assess trail conditions and plan our maintenance response.

Areas west of Bay County received minimal impacts from the storm, and we have now reopened most of the Florida Trail in the western Panhandle. This includes large sections of trail in the Nokuse Preserve, Eglin Reservation, and Blackwater River State Forest. Northwest Florida Water Management District properties are expected to reopen by this weekend; this includes the Choctawhatchee River and Yellow River Ravines sections of the Florida Trail. As of this morning at 9:00 AM, the Florida Trail terminus at Fort Pickens in Gulf Islands National Seashore has re-opened.

Highway 399 through the Santa Rosa areas will remain closed for approximately three months while repairs are completed.

An alternative road walk is possible along US98 to avoid the Highway 399 construction; eastbound hikers can take the Highway 399 bridge from Pensacola Beach to Gulf Breeze, then follow US98 to Navarre and pick up the Florida Trail as it heads north towards the Eglin Reservation.

For more info and continued updates, visit the Florida Trail Closures & Notices page.

Right now, there are teams of responders who have traveled from around the country. They are working long days to assess and report on the situation in the Forest in order to keep people safe and re-open a beloved public resource. We ask that all hikers and FTA volunteers please respect the existing closures during this large-scale emergency response. Updates will continue to be posted to the Florida Trail Association website as closures are lifted and trail access is restored.