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Northwest Region
Blackwater River State Forest
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The Blackwater River State Forest, located in northwest Florida, is a picturesque and diverse natural landscape teeming with abundant natural resources and biodiversity. With its sprawling 206,621 acres, the forest encompasses a variety of ecosystems, including longleaf pine forests, cypress swamps, blackwater rivers, and sparkling springs. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in the serenity of nature, exploring the numerous recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and wildlife observation. The forest's pristine blackwater rivers, like the namesake Blackwater River and the Juniper Creek, provide exceptional canoeing and kayaking experiences, surrounded by lush greenery and vibrant wildlife. Whether seeking adventure or solace, the Blackwater River State Forest offers a truly enchanting experience for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike.
Nature of the Area
One of the many outstanding features on Blackwater River State Forest is the many beautiful streams that meander throughout the forest. The most notable of these waterways are Blackwater River, Juniper Creek, Coldwater Creek and Sweetwater Creek. Canoeing on these waterways is a popular activity.

Throughout the northern ranges of the forest where soil types retain more moisture, you will find vegetative species such as: longleaf pine, southern red oak, water oak and dogwood. In the southern ranges of the forest where soil types are coarse with little capacity to hold water you will find vegetative species such as: longleaf pine, turkey oak, post oak, bluejack oak and persimmon. Wiregrass, gallberry, yaupon, wax myrtle, and blueberry are common understory species. Bottomlands support such species as water oak, sweetbay, redbay, titi, American holly, Atlantic white cedar and southern magnolia.

The prescribed burn program on Blackwater River State Forest enhances the habitat of native fauna and flora by controlling the hardwoods and underbrush that can replace the variety of fragile species living on the forest. Control burning allows for the maintenance of the largest remaining fragment of longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem in the world.
History of the Area
Blackwater River State Forest is a large forested area located in the western part of the Florida Panhandle, primarily in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. The forest spans approximately 190,000 acres and is known for its diverse ecosystem, including rivers, streams, wetlands, and upland pine forests.

The history of the Blackwater River area dates back centuries, with early inhabitants being Native American tribes, including the Creek and Choctaw Indians. They used the area for hunting, fishing, and gathering resources.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the land saw extensive logging activities, with cypress timber being the primary target. The Blackwater River was used for transportation, with logs being floated downstream to various mills.

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played a significant role in the development of the Blackwater River State Forest. CCC workers built roads, bridges, fire towers, and other infrastructure that still exists today.

In 1953, the State of Florida purchased a portion of the Blackwater River area and designated it as the Blackwater River State Forest. Over the years, additional land acquisitions have expanded the forest's size.

The forest is now managed by the Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Their main goal is to conserve and protect the natural resources within the forest while providing recreational opportunities for visitors.

Blackwater River State Forest is renowned for its outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, canoeing, fishing, and wildlife viewing. It is particularly famous for the Blackwater River, which is considered one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the United States.

The forest serves as an important refuge for numerous plant and animal species. It offers a picturesque natural environment for visitors to explore and enjoy, attracting thousands of nature enthusiasts each year.
1. Blackwater River State Park: This park offers 30 campsites with electric and water hookups for tents, trailers or RVs up to 50 feet long. Amenities include restrooms, showers, picnic tables and a dump station.

2. Bear Lake Recreation Area: Located within the state forest itself, this campground has primitive camping sites as well as those equipped with electricity and water facilities.

3. Krul Campground: Also located in the heart of the forest is another great option that provides campers access to swimming areas along Sweetwater Creek.

4. Karick Lake South Campground & Karick Lake North Campground: These two are situated around beautiful Karick lake offering fishing opportunities besides regular amenities like grills,picnic tables etc.

5. Hurricane Lake South & Hurricane lake north campgrounds: Both these offer lakeside camping options.

6. Open Pond Recreation area: Offers both tent only site sand standard electric sites near Open pond which also includes hiking trails nearby.
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Blackwater River State Forest is located near Brewton, Crestview and Milton

1. Blackwater River State Forest Hiking Trail: This is the main trail in the forest, stretching over 21 miles and offering a variety of terrains from sandy beaches to dense pine forests. It follows along with parts of Juniper Creek and offers stunning views.

2. Jackson Red Ground Trail: A part of Florida National Scenic Trails system, this path stretches for about 20 miles through longleaf pines, wiregrass flatwoods, swamps and river bluffs providing hikers an opportunity to experience diverse ecosystems.

3. Wiregrass Nature Trail: An easy looped hike that's just under one mile long featuring beautiful wildflowers during springtime; it's perfect for beginners or those looking for a short trek into nature without much difficulty involved.

4. Juniper Lake Loop: At approximately five-mile-long round trip journey around Juniper lake provides scenic water views throughout most seasons but particularly striking in autumn when leaves change color.

5. Hutton Unit Multi:use Pathways: These are multiple trails designed not only hiking but also horseback riding & biking covering more than 100 miles across different landscapes including wetlands, sandhills etc.

6. Karick Lake South Campground Loop: This two:mile trail loops around Karick Lake within its south campground area which includes picnic spots making it ideal family outing spot.

7. Sweetwater/Conecuh Recreational Area: Offers several shorter hikes ranging between half-a-mile up-to three-miles . The terrain varies from hardwood hammocks to swampy areas near Sweet Water creek.

8. Bear Lakes Primitive Camping Site: Though primarily camping site there are few smaller walking paths leading towards Bear lakes where visitors can enjoy fishing as well.

9. Cotton Bridge Canoe Launch Point: Not exactly hiking route however many people walk down these routes while waiting their turn at canoe launch point.

10. Bigfoot Horse Riding/Hiking Route: As name suggests this multi:purpose trail is popular among horse riders however hikers also use this 8-mile long route to explore deeper parts of forest..

11. Conecuh River Canoe Trail: This unique water:based hiking experience allows visitors to paddle along the Conecuh river while enjoying surrounding flora & fauna.

12. Juniper Creek Primitive Camping Site: Similar Bear Lakes, there are few smaller walking paths leading towards Juniper creek where campers can enjoy fishing or just a leisurely walk.

13. Blackwater Section Florida National Scenic Trails: Part of larger national scenic trails system, these routes cover more than 40 miles within Black Water state Forest offering some most stunning views across different landscapes including swamps and pine forests.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
March 10 Peaceful Camping by Primative Camper
park review stars; one to five This one our favorite camp sites near Hurricane Lake and Bear Lake around Munson Florida.If you like quite, beautiful sceniery then you should try this location.
April 20 hidden trails by firefly
park review stars; one to five if you like primitive camping there is alot to offer in this forest just stick to the river and enjoy...dont be afaid to jump in.
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Blackwater River State Forest is located in the Florida panhandle northeast of Pensacola. The forest borders the Conecuh National Forest to the north and extends southward toward Eglin Air Force Base. The headquarters for Blackwater River State Forest can be found 20 miles north of the town of Milton on State Road 191 in the community of Munson.

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Florida State Parks