Apalachicola National Forest
Guide

Introduction

The largest forest in Florida, Apalachicola National Forest has over 500,000 acres of longleaf pine groves, as well as some of the only remaining wiregrass habitats in the southeast. The forest features hundreds of miles of hikes, as well as four Florida National Scenic Trails. Many of the trails in the park are multi-use, allowing you to mountain bike and horseback ride. The forest has excellent small game hunting, as well as some of the best wildlife viewing in the state.

With over 700 lakes and ponds, there’s plenty to do out on the water. There are four main rivers in the forest, all of which have boat launches that make it easy to get out onto the water. The rivers don’t have any whitewater so that you can kayak and canoe along most sections. The forest has excellent fishing as well, with some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the state.

There are several campgrounds in Apalachicola National Forest, three of which have sites for RVs. Read on to find out details about two of the forest's featured RV campgrounds.

RV Rentals in Apalachicola National Forest

Transportation

Driving

Located in Florida’s panhandle, Apalachicola National Forest can be reached from many major cities in the state, including Talahasee, Orlando, and Jacksonville. Most of the main roads in the forest are fairly wide, so you should have few problems if you’re driving a larger rig.

If you are coming from Orlando, take I-75 to I-10 and you’ll get to the forest in around four and a half hours. Driving from Jacksonville, take I-10 west and you’ll arrive in just over three hours. From Tallahassee, take FL-20 to Smith Creek Road and you’ll reach the forest in around 45 minutes.

The main RV campgrounds in the forest are located off busy roads, so you should have few problems getting to your site. Camel Lake Campground is just minutes off County Road 12, and Wright Lake Campground is right off FL-65. There is occasional flooding, so take caution if visiting after a heavy rain storm.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Apalachicola National Forest

Campsites in Apalachicola National Forest

Reservations camping

Camel Lake Campground

If you want a secluded campground, this is one of the best areas in the forest. This campground has ten RV sites, five of which have electrical hookups. All of the sites have fire pits and picnic tables, and you’ll also have access to flush toilets and restrooms. There is a swimming beach on the lake, and you can also take a short loop trail around the shoreline. If you want a longer hike, you can connect to the Florida Scenic National Trail. All of the sites in the campground can be reserved in advance online and are open year-round. There is a max RV or trailer length of 60 feet in this campground.

Wright Lake Campground

Open from May to October, Wright Lake Campground is a secluded lakeside retreat with 20 primitive sites. All of the sites have fire pits and picnic tables, and you’ll have access to modern restrooms with hot showers. You’ll be close to the Apalachicola River, where you’ll find excellent fishing and boating. You can also connect to a five-mile hiking loop that leads directly out of the campground. All of the sites can be booked in advance online. RVs, campers, and trailers up to 60 feet are permitted.

Seasonal activities in Apalachicola National Forest

In-Season

Hiking

Apalachicola is one of the only large wiregrass habitats remaining in the southeast, and you can explore this unique area with dozens of miles of hiking trails. You can also access the Florida National Scenic Trail. Hikes vary widely in their difficulty, so hikers of all experience levels can find a trail that’s right for them. The trails in the park are open year-round. However, be prepared for heat, humidity, and mosquitoes if you hike during the summer. Most hikers prefer to visit during the spring and fall, when temperatures are much more manageable.

Fishing

Florida is one of the best fishing destinations in the country, with a variety of different bodies of water and excellent weather. Apalachicola National Forest has dozens of lakes, rivers, and streams where you’ll find a wide range of fish species including crappie, sunfish, catfish, and striped bass. Largemouth bass are the most popular catch in the state, and you’ll find many trophy fish in the forest’s waters. You’ll need a Florida state fishing license if you plan on fishing on any of the lakes or rivers in the forest.

Boating

There are four main rivers weaving through the forest, as well as a number of ponds, giving RV campers plenty of opportunities for boating. There are boat launches along many of the main rivers, including the Ochlockonee River. The river is wide enough for motorized boats, and you can also enjoy long kayak or canoe rides. You can also explore one of the 700 lakes and ponds in the forest, as well as a significant number of streams.

Off-Season

Hunting

Apalachicola National Forest has a number of areas with excellent hunting. You’ll find a variety of small game in the forest, including fox, raccoon, bobcat, and opossum. You’ll need all of the proper Florida state hunting licenses if you plan on hunting in the forest. Do take extra caution when hunting during the fall, as you will often find hikers in the forest. Hunting is not allowed within 100 yards of any of the trails or campgrounds.

Wildlife Viewing

Apalachicola National Forest has an astonishing variety of wildlife, making it one of the best areas in the state to see the state’s many mammal, reptile, and bird species. You’ll be able to spot bald eagles, osprey, turkey, bear, and alligator, in addition to dozens of other species. Do take caution when you’re around bodies of water, as there may be large populations of alligators. Although attacks are rare, you should still keep your distance, and never try to feed them.

Exploring Interpretive Areas

You’ll also find a number of interpretive areas and visitor centers in the forest, where you can learn more about the area’s nature and history. Langston House is a popular destination, teaching you about the architecture of 19th-century Florida. You can also visit Leon Sinks Geological Area, where you’ll find five miles of trails leading you around some of the region’s largest sinkholes. There are a variety of interpretive programs hosted by the ranger offices, where you’ll learn more about the forest’s wildlife and natural history.