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Big Bend Scenic Byway

Explore Undiscovered North Florida

Scenic Drive: Apalachicola National Forest

Driving Directions: Continue on SR 20 for 4.5 miles to the intersection with Smith Creek Highway (CR 375). Turn left (south) on CR 375 for 16.6 miles to the rural town of Smith Creek.

Distance and driving time between this and previous stop: 23 miles / 30 minutes.

Apalachicola National Forest

Description: In the 1800s this was Florida’s “Wild West” with cattle rustlers, trappers, and Indians. The historic plaque at Fort Braden Community Center denotes its military past during the Second Seminole War. Horseback riding is offered on the Vinzant Riding Trail, with over 30 miles of wooded countryside to explore. The trail crosses open pinelands interrupted by wet and scenic Titi bays that are studded with a variety of wildflowers. Enjoyable for both experienced and beginning horseback riders.

After leaving Lake Talquin, the drive borders the Ochlockonee River, passing through the central portion of the Apalachicola National Forest. Travelers will notice that many pine trees have black trunks, indicating that fire has occurred in the area. This Byway—and the state of Florida—is a national model for the use of prescribed fire as a management tool for the Longleaf Pine and Wiregrass habitat that dominates the landscape. The orange Prescribed Fire signs are a reminder of the many ways the practice benefits the forest and wildlife, and protects surrounding areas and residents from destructive wildfires.

Spring and fall are particularly beautiful seasons along this portion of the Byway. The roadsides are filled with wildflowers and beautiful butterflies. The broad white bands painted around the trunks of large Longleaf Pine trees indicate nest clusters of the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.

The town of Smith Creek still exhibits its country past with a one-room schoolhouse, old wooden barns, fishing shacks, and Tupelo Honey processing barns.

Other Nearby Destinations: Pine Creek Landing; Jack Langston’s Fish Camp and Boat Ramp; Mack Landing.

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