Explore Around the Bend
Florida is fringed with miles of coastline, much of it densely populated and heavily developed. Those who seek a more untamed coastal landscape will find it here on Florida’s “Big Bend.” Nestled in the curve of Florida’s peninsula around the Gulf of Mexico, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie and Levy counties offer some of Florida’s best wilderness destinations. The Big Bend is a lush blend of salt marshes, tidal swamps, deep woodlands and an occasional slice of sandy beach. Add historic towns, delicious seafood and countless recreational opportunities, and you have a recipe for a relaxing Florida destination not to be missed.
Support for this project was provided by The Conservation Fund, a national organization that makes conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, the Fund is redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, the Fund has worked in all 50 states to protect more than 7.8 million acres of land since 1985, including 117,600 acres of working forestry, recreational lands, wildlife habitat, and cultural resources across Florida.
Known as Florida’s Keystone County, Jefferson County is located near Florida’s bustling capital city, however it retains a quaint and serene atmosphere. In fact, Jefferson County is one of the rare counties in Florida without any stoplights. Outdoor recreation is an important part of everyday life and the county is blessed with outdoor riches for people to enjoy. Multiple rivers and streams offer a plethora of paddling and fishing opportunities. Forests and plantations maintain a tradition of hunting and a genuine Old-Florida flavor. Visitors and residents will enjoy small-town life enriched by a range of opportunities to explore and celebrate the area’s history and culture.
Vast tracts of timberland and public conservation lands, scenic rivers and a spectacular coastline define Taylor County. Anglers and paddlers will enjoy Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach, Spring Warrior and the Econfina and Aucilla Rivers as well as its rugged coastline. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the opportunity to explore Taylor County’s wildlife, parks and history and to celebrate its attractions through annual festivals. From the Fiddler Crab Festival to the Forest Festival to the Florida State Bluegrass Festival, there are numerous opportunities to discover and enjoy local food, music and art.
Embraced by the Suwannee and Steinhatchee Rivers and the Gulf of Mexico, Dixie County is a natural destination for water-based adventure. Visitors can fish for fresh and saltwater species in the same trip, paddle easy winding rivers or advanced open water trails, and even scuba dive on offshore reefs. For land-lovers, the wildlife viewing is tremendous on the miles of woods, roads and trails through the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, the Jena Unit of the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, and the Steinhatchee Springs Wildlife Management Area. Bring your bicycle to enjoy the nationally recognized Nature Coast Trail from Bronson all the way to Chiefland.
Levy County’s natural beauty has earned it its moniker as “Florida’s Natural Paradise.” Here birds and wildlife outnumber people. The county’s conservation lands make the region an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Take your pick of wildlife viewing, paddling, hunting, fishing and hiking opportunities available on the parks, springs, refuges and preserves of Levy County. Fuel yourself on nature’s bounty available in local farmer’s markets, and enjoy the culture of the area at festivals throughout the year.