Phipps Park Trail
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park covers 670 acres in northeast Tallahassee. About 500 acres is owned by the Northwest Florida Water Management District, and about 170 acres by the City of Tallahassee. They are charged with preserving and protecting the property as a Lake Jackson watershed as well as providing the opportunity for diverse environmental education and recreation for all ages, consistent with maintaining the resource base. The dedicated hiking trails are part of the Florida Trail System and are designated by orange blazes painted on trees and posts. The hiking trail in the Park was built, and is maintained, by volunteers from the Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association. The 6.8-mile hiking trail is comprised of three loops and two connector trails. By using various combinations of trail loops and/or the 12 miles of dirt roads in the Park, an infinite variety of distances can be walked. Maps showing trails and roads are available at the trailheads. Intersections on the hiking trails are marked with lettered posts that correspond to the letters on the Park map.
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park was once part of a much larger parcel known as Ayavalla Plantation. It was originally farm land, cultivated first by native Americans, and later in a plantation setting. Crops were cotton and corn. It was once owned by Dwight F. Davis, who served as Secretary of War under President Coolidge and was governor-general of the Philippines and founder of the Davis Cup in tennis. The Davis property was acquired by Griscom Bettle and then sold to John H. Phipps and later inherited by Colin Phipps. Colin purchased additional property which is now included in the Park.
The woodlands and fields within the park are typical of the hundreds of old quail hunting plantations found in the Red Hills region of north Florida. The uplands were heavily disturbed by agricultural activity into the early part of this century and are now recovering, due, in part, to later management of the property as a game hunting preserve. The wetlands, bottomlands, and steep slopes were historically less disturbed and have a primeval, old-growth appearance, especially along Coonbottom Run creek. Overall, the property exhibits high habitat and species diversity.
Some of the highlights of the hiking trail are: several places where the trail runs along banks of clear sand-bottom seepage streams; an aisle through “the pine cathedral;” a scenic stroll up and down through ravines along the edge of Lake Jackson (which vanishes every 25 years or so into a sinkhole only to reappear a year or two later); a short section along the edge of an open field where deer are often seen; and a short trail (“Big Tree Cutoff”) which, near its western end, passes by a stand of huge tulip-poplars. Other trees common along the trail include magnolia, beech, and live oak. Near the west end of a boardwalk bridge on the south side of Coon Bottom Loop, one can see a group of cypress trees. The trail was officially dedicated on National Trails Day in 1996.
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park is 6 miles north of the center of Tallahassee, and 3.6 miles from I-10 (exit 203). Enter the park at 4000 North Meridian Road (Youth Sports Complex trailhead), 701 Miller Landing Road (Meadows Soccer Complex), 1275 Miller Landing Road (Gate A), or 1775 Miller Landing Road (Gate B). The Park is bounded on the west by Lake Jackson, on the north by Miller Landing Road, on the east by North Meridian Road, and on the south by private property.
Type of Hiking
The trail is composed of three loops (Coonbottom, Swamp Forest and Oak Hammock), a connecting trail (Creek Forest–connecting Swamp Forest Loop to Oak Hammock Loop), and the 0.2-mi. Big Tree Cutoff (shortcutting from the south side of Swamp Forest Loop to the middle of the Creek Forest Trail). There are 6.8 miles of hiking trail. If all the loops are hiked, a round-trip hike from the Meridian Road trailhead is 7.2 miles. By using various combinations of hiking trail sections and/or the 12 miles of dirt roads in the Park, an infinite variety of distances can be walked. Day hiking is allowed during Park hours, from sunrise to sunset. Overnight backpacking/camping is available to educational/environmental groups with an advance permit (contact Park Management Specialist Eric Mason at (850) 509-5746).
There are two trailheads with parking. One trailhead is 3.6 miles from I-10 Exit 203, on the south side of the Youth Sports Complex at 4000 North Meridian Road. The second trailhead is 4.4 miles from I-10 Exit 203, in the outer (hiking/biking) parking lot of the Meadows Soccer Complex at 701 Miller Landing Road. Maps showing trails and park roads are available at both trailheads and online at http://www.talgov.com/Uploads/Public/Documents/parks/pdf/phipps.pdf.
Potable water is available in the Youth Sports Complex at water fountains near the playing fields, in the playing fields bathrooms on the west side of the Complex, and in the bathrooms at the park office building in the northeast corner of the Complex. Potable water is available at the building in the center of the soccer fields at the Meadows Soccer Complex. All surface water along the trail, including Lake Victoria and Lake Jackson, must be purified for potable use.
Supplies: Convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants are located on Thomasville Road at Exit 203 of Interstate 10, about 3.5 miles from the Park.
Motels: Also located at Exit 203.
Coe Landing/Park, 7 miles west of Tallahassee on the the south shore of Lake Talquin, off SR 20. Leon County Parks and Recreation 850-606-1470.
Hall’s Landing/Park, 14 miles west of Tallahassee on the south shore of Lake Talquin, off SR 20. Leon County Parks and Recreation 850-606-1470.
Pat Thomas Park, on Hopkins Landing Rd. south of Quincy, 40 miles west of Tallahassee on the north shore of Lake Talquin, off SR 267. Gadsden County Parks and Recreation 850-875-8650.
Williams Landing/Park, 11 miles west of Tallahassee on the south shore of Lake Talquin, off SR 20. Leon County Parks and Recreation 850-606-1470.
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park manager: Eric Mason at (850) 509-5746
Tallahassee Parks and Rec. Dept.: 850-891-3866
Tallahassee Police Dept.: (850) 891-4200 (Emergency: 911)
The hiking trails follow orange blazes. Bicycles and horses are not permitted on this trail, but they are both permitted on the park’s multi-use dirt roads. Bicycles are also permitted on the Redbug off-road bicycle trail (blue blazes) and multi-use trails (white blazes). Use caution when the hiking trail intersects the dirt roads or the Redbug trail. On multi-use trails, hikers yield to horses, and bikers yield to hikers and horses.
All plant and animal life is protected; do not disturb plants and animals in the park. Unleashed dogs, guns, and unauthorized vehicles are prohibited in the Park. Hiking is allowed only during Park hours, from sunrise to sunset.
Maps showing trails and park roads are available at both trailheads and online at
See the Florida Trail Association online store (choose the “Panhandle” option) to purchase the official FTA map.