Tuesday, November 20

Postcards from Torreya State Park

Greetings from Torreya State Park!
It took me awhile to figure out how to find the best local hiking and trail-running trails in Northwest Florida. Unlike in southern California, there's no Jerry Schad publishing detailed field guides of every mile of fire road and singletrack.

Fortunately a few resources are filling in the many gaps* in my local knowledge. I will forever be thankful to the Florida Trail Association, Northwest Florida Outdoor Adventure, Florida State Parks, and Florida Adventurer (among others) for their efforts in documenting local parks and trails.

One of the names that appears over and over again in local hiking reviews is Torreya State Park.
Torreya State Park
So when Hubby and I were driving home from Tallahassee, we decided to take a detour through the park.

The park has well-maintained picnic areas with running water and flush toilets. Trails are well marked with blue or orange blazes. (Orange is the outer loop trail. Blue denotes the connector trails between the loop and various parking, picnic, and camping areas. See map below.) And there are plenty of guidepost signs along the route, as well.
Guideposts on the trail at Torreya SP
The trails range from wide and well-worn paths to narrow and slightly overgrown trails. I did some trail running on the wider, flatter paths, but some sections of the trail were tree-rooted ankle-twisters, so this was more of a hike than a run.
Trail at Torreya SP
We startled some wildlife...
Can you spot the deer in this photo?
... but once they realized we were harmless hikers, they went right back to grazing.

The trail skirts a section of the Apalachicola River, but the bluffs are too steep to make riverbank hiking an option.
Apalachicola River
Another key feature of the park is preservation of Confederate history. I'll be honest when I say that I'm not at all comfortable with seeing signs of the nation's bloodiest war and it's slave-owning past.
Marker explaining the Confederate history of the park
Prior to our visit, I did not know about the historical significance of the park, so the signs came as a bit of a shock to me.
Confederate Gun Emplacement
That said, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Perhaps it's better to remember our unpleasant history than to pretend it never happened...

Either way, Gregory House, partway through the hike, makes a nice place to stop for lunch or refill a water bottle.
Gregory House
The views from Gregory House are pretty, too.
Apalachicola River, view from Gregory House
I can see why Torreya is on every hiker's must-see list.

One final note about hiking in northwest Florida...
Every Florida State Park I've been to stocks trail maps in kiosks within the park. Unfortunately the maps are generally not available for download from the state park website, which makes pre-hike planning a bit problematic.

So, here's my contribution to local hiking information: The Torreya State Park Trail Map.
Torreya State Park Trail Map

What's your favorite hiking trail?
How do you find out about places to hike or trail run?

*Full disclosure: I still don't feel as confident in the woods here as I did in Southern California, but it's only been two years. I trekked my way through the Southern California backcountry for a decade. After 10 years anything becomes routine.

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