Neatly tucked in beautiful sunny Florida, the Blackwater River State Forest is truly a gem of the eastern part of the United States. Jumping in your trusty RV and driving to the Florida Panhandle will take you to the gorgeous forest that spans over 206,900 acres of gorgeous woodlands, captivating nature, and enchanting scents only a forest like this can provide. RV campers who are looking to spend some time near the water will rejoice, as the forest got its name after the Blackwater River that flows from Alabama to the Blackwater Bay. Numerous opportunities for relaxation, adventuring, and pure disconnect from the modern world drive visitors to set up their rigs right here, in one of the campgrounds that the forest offers. Fishing, hiking, picnicking, boating, or simply relaxing amongst the trees – whichever way you sway, the Blackwater River State Forest provides the perfect ground for any activity that a happy camper may be interested in. The flora enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the forest is the largest ecological community of wiregrass and longleaf pine, so they will be able to explore the wonderful plants when they come here.
Blackwater River State Forest is a big wooded area that follows the Blackwater River. The closest town to the forest is Milton, FL. From Milton, you’d have to drive for about 20 miles north on a well-managed Munson Highway. As with all highways, the drive can get repetitive and boring, so pay extra attention if you are tired. However, the scenery is quite lively and it should keep your attention, especially if you decide to drive to the forest early in the morning. As you approach the forest, you will see many dirt roads that lead to the highway, so be careful since traffic lights cannot be found here to regulate the vehicles incoming from the side. Up north is the border between the Blackwater River State Forest and the Conecuh National Forest. On the south, you will find the Eglin Air Force Base.
Since the forest is enormous, campers will find plenty of sites where they can set up their rig or park their vehicles for day visits. What is important to remember is that parking is not allowed on forest roads or trails, and the same goes for driving.
Bear Lake Campground is conveniently located in the Bear Lake Recreation Area, just by the lake where campers can chill out, relax, swim, or fish during the summer months. The campground is located in the Santa Rosa County, close to Pensacola. The campground has potable water, electric hookups, a dump station, as well as other amenities such as hot showers, a group dining hall, fully functional kitchen, as well as a fishing pier and a boating ramp for all the boat enthusiasts who park their RV here. The maximum length of the rig is 60 feet, and a total of 32 sites are available to visitors. All of them are pet-friendly, so you can take your furry friend on an adventure with you. The campground is open year-round.
The Coldwater Equestrian Campground is, as the name suggests, horse-friendly! What a joy to all the campers who want to spend a bit of time surrounded by these gentle animals. It is located in the Santa Rosa County and features sites with electric and water hookups, modern showers and restrooms, a dump station, as well as horse stalls and corrals. RV campers who travel with dogs can leave them in a kennel when they need to, and horseback riders can enjoy the gorgeous trail that will take them through the forest where they can observe all the beauties of Florida. The campground offers 56 campsites, 60 barn stalls, 3 horse corrals, as well as 124 kennels for dogs. Campers can rent canoes and boats, or have a relaxing day in a dining hall with a gorgeous pavilion.
The Hurricane Lake North Campground is located in the Okaloosa County in the Blackwater River State Forest, on the north side of the lake. It offers 18 sites for RVs with electric hookups or no hookups. The campground has potable water, a dump station, showers, and restrooms, as well as a fishing dock and a boat ramp for the campers who want to spend a day on the lake. Swimming is not allowed due to alligator activity, and campers are warned when they go boating to be careful and only do it if they are certain they won’t experience a panic attack if they see these animals. Otherwise, they can enjoy bird watching, hiking, or take photos of the gorgeous surroundings. The campground is pet-friendly and the largest site is 75 feet long.
The Karick Lake North Campground is located in Okaloosa County in Blackwater River State Forest, on the north side of the lake. Campsites offer electric and water hookups, as well as a dump station, modern showers and restrooms, a pier, and a fishing dock for anglers who want to test their luck on the lake. The campground offers 15 pet-friendly RV or tent sites, the largest one being 60 feet long.
Karick Lake South Campground is located on the south side of the Karick Lake in the Okaloosa County in the Blackwater River State Forest. Fifteen sites are available to the campers, some of which have electric and water hookups, and some of which are electric-only. All of them, however, are pet-friendly, the largest one being 65 feet long, and close enough to the lake so the campers can enjoy swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, as well as chilling by the water having a relaxing picnic outside.
The Krul Campground is located in the Santa Rosa County in the Blackwater River State Forest, close to Pensacola. Campers can enjoy a whopping 50 sites where they can set up their rig or pitch their tent. Some of the sites have electric and water hookups, and some don’t. However, the campground has a dump station, showers, and restrooms, as well as a swimming dock and a pier for the visitors and campers. Hikers can enjoy the Sweetwater Hiking Trail which will lead them on a 1.3-mile walk through the gorgeous surroundings.
Anglers both pro and amateur will be happy to hear that in the Blackwater River State Forest they can polish and show off their skills in many places scattered throughout the woodlands. One of the possible spots for fishing is Bear Lake, an artificial lake on the beautiful Bear Creek. Bone Creek is another fabulous spot, although it is only a day-use area, as well as the Hurricane Lake, that spans over 318 acres of the man-made body of water. Be careful though, since alligators do live in the Hurricane Lake, so this spot is best left to the professional boaters who are used to encountering these gorgeous animals, and who know what to do in case they see one. Karick Lake is a smaller lake of only 65 acres, however, it is also suitable for fishing and catching the delicious dinner you can later grill with your friends and family.
Just like fishing is a popular activity in the Blackwater River State Forest, boating is another fun summertime activity many campers participate in. All the lakes except Krul allow boats or canoes, and if you are brave, you can even lower your boat into the iconic Blackwater River. If you park your RV in one of the campgrounds in this gorgeous forest, you can be rest assured that you can spend your well-earned vacation doing physically demanding activities such as boating, or simply relaxing on the water, far from the noise of the people around you. Sometimes, we all need a bit of solitude, and we all definitely need more physical activity in our sedentary lives, so if you are interested in boating, make sure to test the waters of the Blackwater River State Forest.
During the hot months, when the sun just won’t stop burning, the sky is blue and clear, and the Florida heat gets to you, one of the best ways to cool off, wind down, and relax is to take a dip in one of the breathtaking streams or lakes in the Blackwater River State Forest. One of the most popular areas for swimming is the day use Krul Recreation Area, quite famous with the locals and travelers like you. The 6.5-acre lake is just the right size so anyone can feel comfortable dipping their toes in it, having a splashing contest, or just swimming to build muscle and stamina. The swimming dock is available to the visitors. Note that swimming is NOT allowed on Hurricane Lake, since alligators do live here, and it is definitely not safe frolicking in this body of water.
The state forests of Florida have an amazing program for people who want to get involved in the hiking community. Nature lovers who love to walk around the trails all over America can join the Trailwalker program and experience the beauty of this state first hand, and even help others in the process! How to do it? First off, you need to cover 10 trails in a minimum of five state forests on the Trail List. You can purchase the postal survey card and fill it in as proof that you covered the trail. Next, jot down all the trails on the Trailwalker’s Log and mail it back to the organization, after which you can receive a patch that you can sew on to your jacket, as well as a certificate that proves that you have completed the program. Of course, they offer other tiers after you complete the first one, so you can still feel that spirit of competition and improvement as you go.
If you love horses and your mission is to have official recognition as the horse master, you can apply for the Trailtrotter program in Florida. You need to have ridden eight trails in a minimum of four state forests, one of which can be the Blackwater River State Forest. Other steps are the same as with the Trailwalker program, and you can level up to a Trailsaddler or Trailwrangler when you complete 16 or 24 trails respectively. Of course, the greatest benefit is that you will get to explore the wonderful nature of Blackwater River State Forests and other wooded areas in the state, as well as improve your riding skills, meet new friends, and constantly work on being even better than you are now.
Nature lovers will be happy to hear that the Blackwater River State Forest is famous for its wide variety of plants, some of which cannot be found elsewhere in America. Some of the most unique plants you can find are carnivorous plants that lure their prey, usually insects, capture them, and slowly digest them for nutrition. You will be able to find and photograph the butterworts, glistening sundews, bladderworts, as well as pitcher plants. As far as trees go, you can encounter longleaf pine, post oak, persimmon, turkey oak, and bluejack oak, as well as other plants such as blueberries, wax myrtle, American holly, Atlantic white cedar, gallberry, wiregrass, yaupon, and southern magnolia. This area offers truly a great opportunity for photography!