Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Talbot Island State Park

We spent most of our week in and around Little Talbot Island State Park.  On our way home we left the park early and drove north to Fernandina Beach to see what Fort Clinch State Park was all about for a future trip.  On the drive we stopped at four other parks/sites that make up Talbot Island State Park.  There is no camping at these places, all seem to be great day trips, and will be revisited later.  

This park is primarily a natural preserve. Great for nature study, birding, and photography, visitors can enjoy picnicking, kayaking and fishing. 


Part of the East Coast Greenway trail, a 2900 mile trail from the Canadian border in Maine to Key West.  The tide is out here and the boardwalk is under repair. Hikers and bikers had to use the biking lane on A1A at this section.

The marshes of Big Talbot Island. 

Next stop is the George Crady Bridge fishing pier. The mile long, pedestrian only bridge provides some of the best fishing in Northeast Florida.


The new bridge on the left.  Motorized traffic and biking lanes.  No fishing

Early morning fishing.  Open 24/7 the pier is open to all. Some were here for the shear joy of fishing, a family outing, or their next meal(s).  And some like us looking and taking photos.

While it's a 3 poles per person limit, you will see them lined up to catch whiting, tarpon, jack, drum and more.  We saw quite a variety in the catch boxes.

If you are casting many poles you need a bell to let you know something is on the line.  We saw a variety of bell shapes.

Besides the many very friendly fishermen, and women, a few other interested parties hung around in anticipation of unused bait being thrown their way.

Just across the road from the bridge is Amelia Island State Park.  The park provides a glimpse of the original Florida with its beaches, salt marshes, and coastal maritime forests.  

Pristine beaches provide great swimming, fishing, picnicking.   It is one of the few places on the east coast permitting horseback riding on the beach.  A lot of the beach was closed due to the turtle nests being vacated by newborns.  A seasonal thing.  


Egrets cautiously waiting to see what the photographer will do.

They took flight.  Photographer got too close.

Giant Swallowtail.

Another part of the East Coast Greenway.  30 percent of the trail is on traffic-free greenways.  Still developing.  It seems the more serious bicyclists use the bicycle lanes on the road.  We had passed one as we exited Little Talbot Island State Park and while later leaving Fernandina Beach saw them peddling into town.  Long ride. 

The place to vacation in the 1920s.  Named for a fort built here to defend the southern flank of Georgia.  Today it is a great place to visit nature and explore "old" Florida.

 This one and a half lane (at best) road takes you through a maritime hammock and leads to the Ribault Club.  Further down the road is the Kingsley Plantation.

 The main attraction at this cultural state park is the restored Ribault Club.  Very elegant and once an exclusive resort area.  In the left wing there is a visitor center showing the history and culture of the area.  One can rent a cd and take a narrated motor tour of the area.  There are segway, photo, kayak/canoe and walking tours available.

Another neat attraction is the local Episcopal Church.

There are two other places that make up Talbot Island State Park.  They are Pumpkin Hill Preserve State Park and Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park.  On the list to be visited at a later date, too. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Week at Florida's Little Talbot Island State Park

Talbot Island State Park is made up of seven state parks and historic sites.  Little Talbot Island State Park is the only one with campground sites with RV hook-ups. As I see it, the primary users of this park are fishermen, beach goers, and those, like us, that use it as a base for day travel to attractions in the area:  Jacksonville, Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.

The campsites are all packed sand and are level with plenty of shade and most with privacy on the sides.  Nice, quiet little park.  The shade was welcomed when the sun was out.  It was in the high 90s, heat index 105-110, and very humid all week despite being overcast most of the day.

The campground road is gravel with several potholes filled with loose pearock.  Not good for bikes.  The layout of the campsites is kind of different as there are no official loops.  More like three branches of the main entrance road.  But, the branches are connected at the ends by, essentially, service roads.  Makes for interesting biking or walking through the campground.

  The park has an unimproved marina on Myrtle Creek for launching mainly  fishing kayaks.  The water depth is greatly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean tide.  Near the marina is a playground, group tent camping area and group campfire/amphitheater area.

Some fish from the dock and shore using rods or nets. At low tide fishermen can get to other places along the creek.

The Myrtle Creek marsh area at high tide.

The park has two hiking trails.  One starts at the campsite and is a 3/4 mile nature trail through the woods with some elevation changes and along the marsh.  For kids, the rangers have set up a scavenger hunt.  They get clues to find small boxes attached to trees along the trail that contain prizes such as a compass, and magnifying glass. Fun and instructive. 

A red cedar tree.  A lot of #2 pencils there. 

Low tide at the dock reveals many empty oyster shells, barnacles, and......

.....crabs.  Hundreds of crabs scurrying about and popping in and out of their holes.  Many different colors.

Even on the nature trail tiny crabs can be found.

Other visitors to the dock.  In the marsh Plovers, Osprey and Egrets are readily seen.

On the other side of FL A1A from the campsite is the beach.  Past the ranger station there is one of three parking lots with pavilions and showers/rest rooms for campers and day visitors.  Boardwalks lead across the dunes to about four miles of white sand beach.


Looking north at low tide.

Looking south toward Mayport.  Many freighters appear on the horizon during the day. Mayport is a large terminal and Naval Air Station. 

When not at the marina they are on the beach.  Or, vice versa.

At the ranger station there is the start and finish of a 3.8 mile beach trail.  Supposedly one can bike this trail. A lot of very soft sand.  Better to walk it.  It starts out through trees and shrubs....

....meanders through the dunes, and ends up on the beach to return to the ranger station via the boardwalk.  Strenuous hike.

Passing the first picnic area you begin an excellent 2 mile bike trail that follows the road to the most south picnic area.  Good exercise trail.  Paved and flat.

Some sights along the way.