Hike the Florida National Scenic Trail at Nokuse Plantation

November 16, 2010

Sweet gum, yellow-poplar, red oak, and white oak provide a shade along the trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Creek side natural beauty awaits the explorer in Bruce

The Nokuse Plantation portion the Florida Trail offers upland, wetland and freshwater natural habitats along the Lafayette Creek and Big Head Branch creek in Walton County. Whether you chose a short two-hour hike or an overnight backpacking journey, this trail offers a scenic experience that is sure to please.

This section of the Florida Scenic Trail stretches more than 19 miles from SR81 to U.S. Hwy. 331 in Freeport with three trailheads: SR81 between Bruce and Red Bay, J.W. Hollington Road in Freeport and U.S. Hwy 331 in Freeport.

If you choose a short, 2-3 hour hike, the SR81 trailhead near Seven Runs Creek, provides a shady, moderate hike along the Big Head Branch creek.

Ground cover such as this partridge berry are abundant along the trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

This undisturbed pristine area is adjacent to a planted pine forest along an easement provided by Nokuse Plantation. Nokuse Plantation is a privately owned preservation and restoration area connecting conservation lands of Eglin Reservation, Lafayette Wildlife Management Area and the Choctawhatchee Wildlife Management Area.

The trail hosts a variety of mixed over story of oak-pine vegetation including loblolly, longleaf, slash, sweet gum, yellow-poplar, red oak, turkey and white oak. Dogwood, gallberry, and sparkleberry are the major understory species. Common sweetleaf, American holly, greenbrier, southern bayberry, little bluestem, Elliott bluestem, grassleaf golden aster, partridge berry, saw palmetto are other understory species.

Evidence of wildlife is abundant along the trail. A hiker may see a variety of species such as box, loggerhead musk, and mud turtle, a variety of snakes, skinks, salamanders, squirrel, bobcat, beaver, coyote, pocket gopher (mounds), cottontail, gray fox, nine-banded armadillo, swallow-tailed kite, Mississippi kite, southeastern kestrel, pine warbler, Cooper’s hawk, wild turkey, northern bobwhite quail, pileated woodpecker, turkey vulture, red-shouldered hawk, barred owl, red-headed woodpecker, great crested flycatcher, blue grosbeak, indigo bunting, brown-headed nuthatch, northern cardinal, palm warbler. ::MAP::

Trail Map: NokuseTrail

To learn more about the local Florida Trails, go to:

To learn more about Nokuse Plantation, go to http://www.nokuse.org