This is a unique section of The Florida Trail because of the interesting geology of the Aucilla River. Emerging from swamps near the Georgia/Florida border, the river flows southwestward, passing over the Aucilla Rapids and then disappearing underground a half mile north of Goose Pasture Road. For a distance of eight miles, the river appears and disappears in a series of “rises” and sinks.” The river continues this pattern until the final rise at Nutall Rise 0.5 miles north of the US 98 bridge. This section of the Trail is approximately 21.3 miles long, including the road walks. Excluding the road walks on Powell Hammock Rd. and US 98, the distance is about 15 miles. See below for access points and parking. On Goose Pasture Rd., look for the Florida Trail kiosk on the south side of the road, just before the cattle grate; the trail along the Sinks portion enters the woods to the south, just west of the kiosk. There are many sinks to follow along this trail. The trail along the River portion enters the woods on the north side of the road, a bit further west of the kiosk; the “rapids” are about 4 miles north along the River trail.
Hiking Conditions and Precautions
The trail leads through limestone sinks in the south portion and along the river bank in the north portion. Hiking is usually dry except when the river is at flood stage (flood stage is 9 feet; check THIS SITE for current water level; also check Trail Conditions notices on the Florida Trail Assoc. website). The trail should not be hiked during, or close to, flood stage because the trail runs close to the river bank and edges of sinks, and flood water can hide drop-offs. The trail is within the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area, so check the hunting dates at THIS SITE and wear safety orange during gun season. Ticks are exceptionally bad along the sinks from April through September and they are known to carry tick-borne Ehrlichiosis (and possibly Lyme disease).
The east terminus of the section is at the trail crossing on CR 14, 1.5 miles south of the Aucilla River Bridge. The west terminus is 1.7 miles west of the US 98 bridge over the Aucilla River.
CLICK HERE to purchase a map of this section from FTA.
CLICK HERE for Summary Sheet with map, mileage points, and other information for hiking this section.
For current advisories and changes to the maps, see the Florida Trail website.
Some roadside parking along CR 14 near the trail crossing, 9.9 mi. south of Lamont (1.5 mi. so. of Aucilla River Bridge).
2. Some parking available at the north end of the River Access 41 road.
3. Some roadside parking along Goose Pasture Road and in a small parking area across from the kiosk.
4. Many parking options at the south end of the Sinks portion, about 1 mile in from Powell Hammock Road on an unmarked dirt road that heads west off P. H. Rd. ,about 1.1 mi. north of the Dolomite mine (2.8 mi. north of US 98).
All parking is at your own risk.
There is no potable water along the trail. Boil, filter or treat river and surface water. Water (bottled) may be purchased (or perhaps available at a spigot) at J.R.’s Aucilla River Store on US 98, 0.4 mi. east of the Aucilla River bridge.
Camping is permitted at three primitive campsites along the trail. There are two campsites along the river and one along the sinks. The group campground at Goose Pasture can be reserved through the Suwannee River Water Management District.
Supplies: Lamont, St. Marks and J.R.’s Aucilla River Store on US 98 (0.4 mi. east of the Aucilla River bridge).
Mail: Lamont 32336
Lodging: Perry; St. Marks: Sweet Magnolia B&B, Shell Island Fish Camp; west of St. Marks: The Inn at Wildwood, on US 98.
Public Campgrounds: Goose Pasture (on Wacissa River, 1.75 mi. west of Trail, at end of Goose Pasture Rd.), primitive, pit toilets, no potable water. Closed during general hunting season.
Taylor County Sheriff: (850) 584-2429.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission: (850) 488-6251
Florida Highway Patrol: (850) 245-7700