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great views of the Apalachicola River
Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve
Closest available address
From Bristol, take State Road 12 east about 1.5 miles to Garden of Eden Road
Preserve is open daylight hours.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
The Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve is a 6,300 acre property owned by the Nature Conservancy. It was purchased to protect a globally rare ecosystem called steephead ravines which is beside the Apalachicola River. The preserve is out of the way and rarely visited. There is a well maintained 3.75 mile hiking trail which has good overlooks from the river bluffs.
The steephead ravines habitat contain a number of rare and endangered plants, including two pine trees native to Florida and several types of plants typically found further north. In order to fully protect the steephead ravines, the Conservancy also protected nearby uplands. It started buying land here in 1982 and completed acquisitions about 20 years later. The land had been extensively logged. While it was degraded, the land was not otherwise developed, and there was a good opportunity to restore it. Pine trees and wire grass were planted, and prescribed fires were initiated. The restoration of the preserve's long leaf pine habitat provided valuable insights on subsequent habitat restorations in other areas. In addition to the work at this preserve, the Conservancy also has helped restore habitat at neighboring Torreya State Park.
Using a GPS device to get here led to the Nature Conservancy Office rather than the hiking trail. A Conservancy staff member provided directions to the trailhead. If you are planning a trip, you may want to call the Conservancy office first to get detailed directions. Once on the trail, the solitude really hits home. It's the type of quiet that is noticeable only because it's so rare these days. While a few other hikers were passed, it was mostly a solo jaunt. A few interpretive signs on the trail identified tree types. Habitats were varied; the trail passed pine forests, isolated oak trees, steep ravines and impressive 100 foot bluffs on the Apalachicola River. The Alum Bluff Overlook by the river is worth the trek to enjoy some wonderful and serene river views. The trail was in good shape and easy to follow. It was easy to moderate in difficulty due to a number of ravines along the river section. Factor in enough time to get back to your car because it would be challenging to hike this trail at night. Overall, the preserve was a pleasant excursion and will appeal to those who enjoy the great outdoors in a quiet setting.
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Torreya State Park
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