Fort Braden Trail

Fort Braden trailhead (Sandra Friend)The Fort Braden Trail is one of the more unique in northern Florida because it passes through both hardwood forest and cut-over uplands being restored with wiregrass and long-leaf pines. The trail traverses the north-facing southern slope above Lake Talquin giving the hiker the opportunity to enjoy a remnant beech-magnolia hardwood forest. This slope forest is cut with many crystal clear, sand-bottom seepage streams which flow from the toe of the slope to Lake Talquin. Northern hardwood trees found along the trail include tulip-poplar, beech and magnolia. The three mile long western loop trail passes several big trees including a huge tulip poplar near its southwestern corner. The three mile long center loop follows ravines and seepage streams and passes through the tract’s largest hardwood forest. The loop crosses upland pine areas along the south, creeks and ravines on the east and west and it follows the lake shore for nearly one-half mile on a grassy lane. At several locations, the hikers and equestrians share the same trail and the hiking and equestrian trails cross each other many times. This trail was opened on National Trails Day in 1995.

Location
The Fort Braden Trail is located within Lake Talquin State Forest on the southern shore of Lake Talquin. The trailhead and parking area is located on SR 20 (Blountstown Highway) approximately 9.2 miles west of SR 263 (Capital Circle West) and Tallahassee.

Types of Hiking
Day hikes and overnight backpacking hikes are possible on this nine mile loop trail. This trail is divided into three stacked loop trails allowing for flexibility in the length of hike desired ranging from three to six to nine miles. The trail has little overall elevation change, but it has many short steep slopes where it crosses creeks and ravines.

Parking
The trailhead is on the north side of SR 20 accessible via a .15 mile clay road. The trailhead parking area also serves equestrian trails throughout the Fort Braden tract. Be careful not to block the access way to horse trailer parking area in the southern portion of the parking area. Several shaded picnic tables are in an area located just north of the trailhead parking area and south of the trail.

Water
No potable water is available on site. All surface water along the trail, including Lake Talquin, must be purified for potable use.

Conveniences
Supplies: Convenience stores are located five, seven and nine miles east of the trailhead on SR 20
Mail: Tallahassee 32301
Motels: Tallahassee
Public Campgrounds: Adjacent to Ft. Braden tract along the southern shore of Lake Talquin at William’s Landing Road (first road west of trailhead), Coe Landing Road ( first road east of trailhead), and J. Lewis Hall Landing and Park ( five miles west of trailhead).

Assistance
Leon County Sheriff: 911; Non-emergency 904-891-6606 Florida Division of Forestry: 904-488-1871

Precautions
This hiking trail is shared with the equestrian trail in several locations along Lake Talquin and crosses the equestrian trail in man places as the trails weave through the forest. The hiking trail follows orange blazes. For courtesy and safety sake, please announce your presence when approaching or being approached by riders on horses and allow them to pass. Several ravines and stream crossings have poor footing due to steep slopes. The Ft. Braden tract is not open to hunting making it one of a handful of hiking areas in northern Florida that may be enjoyed during the prime hiking season. Treat all surface water along the trail. Bicycles are not permitted on this trail.

Restrictions
Contact the Florida Division of Forestry ( 904-488-1871) to obtain a permit to camp overnight at the backpack campsites. Guns are prohibited on the trail. Vehicles are restricted to the trailhead parking area.

Maps:
Click here for the Florida Forest Service’s’ map of the Ft. Braden hiking trail.
See the Florida Trail Association online store (choose the “Panhandle” option) to purchase the official FTA map.