Apalachicola River - Things to Do
Explore this vast ecosystem that begins hundreds of miles away in Georgia. Plan a paddling adventure or hunt, fish and admire wildlife in the largest expanse of floodplain forest in Florida.
In the fall, the area is very popular with squirrel hunters, many of whom set up primitive campsites and enjoy fishing as well as hunting. There are multiple fields and general wildlife food plots open for dove season. Hunting activity generally peaks between mid-November and mid-January. Check the regulations summary brochure and hunt calendar before you visit.
If you see a sick or abnormally thin deer or deer dead of unknown causes, please report its location to the CWD hotline, (866) CWD-WATCH (293-9282).
Fish from banks or boats for largemouth bass, catfish, striped bass, and bream. Numerous creeks and tributaries to the Apalachicola flow through the property, offering nearly unlimited recreational potential for anglers as well as paddlers. The East, St. Marks and Little St. Marks rivers offer productive fishing in areas with a good mix of fresh and salt water. Carry appropriate licenses and permits.
The area's outstanding wildlife habitats, including floodplain forest, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods, support significant populations of both rare and common wildlife. More than 280 species of native birds have been spotted here. This area features four sites on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Visit the Wildlife page for more information about the area's wildlife.
Hiking, Biking, & Horseback Riding
At the Sand Beach recreation area, hike the Pine to Palm Trail through a cabbage palm hammock, take in views from the observation tower and enjoy the picnic facilities. Or explore nearly 100 miles of scenic, unpaved roads by bicycle or horse to experience the full range of diverse habitats. Picnic tables are also located at Butcher Pen, Gardner and Whiskey George Creek landings.
Enjoy primitive camping (no restrooms or water) at one of four designated campgrounds (permit only) located at Butcher Pen Landing, Gardner Landing, Bloody Bluff Landing and Van Horn Landing or at a self-selected location anywhere within ARWEA that is not posted “No Camping." For more information, see the Camping on Wildlife Management Areas page.
Nearly 100 miles of trails comprise the award-winning Apalachicola River WEA Paddling Trail System. Canoers and kayakers of all abilities can explore the network of waterways on short, easy jaunts or choose more strenuous multi-day adventures. Most trails are accessible from boat ramps located along State Road 65. Secure bike racks located at several ramps provide an option for shuttling. Two routes are accessed from the west bank of the Apalachicola River north of the city of Apalachicola.
Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area contains a profusion of habitat types, from estuaries to uplands. Over 250 wildflower species take advantage of these well-managed habitats. Explore the Tank Island Wildflower Driving Tour to see how many you can find!