Calling all nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts! If adventure is what you seek, you’re sure to find it at the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area. With more than 63,000 scenic acres just waiting to be explored, this Florida nature preserve is a favorite destination for hunting, fishing, paddling, wildlife viewing, and more. Come reset in nature and enjoy endless outdoor recreation. Here’s why you must plan a visit during your next St. George Island getaway!
The Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area is one of many must-visit attractions along Florida’s Forgotten Coast. For a complete list of recommended hiking trails, wildlife-viewing areas, and state parks, be sure to check out our Things to Do page. It’s full of tips about the best things to see and do in Apalachicola and St. George Island!
About the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area
The Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental area (Apalachicola River WEA) spans across 63,257 acres of pineland, floodplain swamp, savanna and estuary habitats. It is the largest expanse of floodplain forest in Florida, stretching from the lower areas of the Apalachicola River all the way north from Apalachicola Bay to Liberty County. The natural flora and fauna support an extensive population of rare and common wildlife, including more than 280 species of native birds! It’s the perfect place to unplug, relax, and reconnect in nature.
Top 5 Things to Do at the Apalachicola River WEA
Whether your game of choice is squirrel, dove, deer, turkey, or wild hog, you’ll find plenty of great hunting opportunities at the Apalachicola River WEA. Hunting season typically peaks between mid-November and mid-January. Make sure to obtain the appropriate licenses and check out Florida’s current hunting regulations and hunt calendar before you visit.
2. Hiking and Biking
With miles of picturesque trails to explore, this nature preserve is every outdoor enthusiast’s dream! We recommend starting with the interpretive trail at the Sand Beach Recreation Area. Hike beneath the cabbage palms, enjoy breathtaking views from the observation tower, or share lunch at one of the shaded picnic tables. The Apalachicola River WEA also has nearly 100 unpaved miles for hiking, biking, or horseback riding.
Are you planning to do some fishing while on vacation? The angling thrill of a lifetime awaits you at the Apalachicola River WEA! You’ll discover plenty of great fishing holes amongst the many creeks and tributaries that flow to the Apalachicola River. Cast a line from your boat, or right from the bank, and reel in heaps of largemouth bass, catfish, striped bass, and bream.
Paddling is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Florida’s Forgotten Coast, and this WEA boasts an award-winning paddling system that you won’t want to miss. Enjoy an idyllic day canoeing, kayaking, or paddle boarding along these scenic waterways. Most trails are accessible from boat ramps located along State Road 65.
5. Wildlife and Wildflower Viewing
During your visit, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. In fact, this nature preserve has four different areas that are listed on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail! One of the best places to spot native birds is at the observation tower at Sand Beach. Here, you might see bald eagles, osprey, waterfowl, pelicans, red-shouldered hawks, woodpeckers, shorebirds, to name a few species. If you walk along the adjacent nature trail, keep an eye out for deer, raccoons, and opossums. And from the pier, you may even spot dolphins, alligators, blue crabs, and more!
In addition to abundant wildlife, there are more than 250 different types of wildflowers located throughout the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area! The best way to see them is by taking a scenic driving tour along Tank Island Road. Cruise along Tank Island and count how many different types of wildflowers you can find. Whether you’re visiting in spring, summer, or fall, there is almost always something in bloom!
Enjoy More Adventures With Collins Vacation Rentals
When it comes to accommodations near the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area, look no further than Collins Vacation Rentals! Our gorgeous St. George Island vacation properties feature top-notch amenities to ensure that your stay is a relaxing one. Whether you prefer views of the Gulf, Apalachicola Bay, or the canal, we are sure to have the ideal accommodation for your getaway. Plus, all of the best bike and kayak rentals, fishing spots, hiking trails, and the St. George Island State Park are just minutes away!
Guests staying at select participating Collins Vacation homes can also access several complementary activities through Xplorie! Activities may include yoga on the beach, kayaking or SUP Eco Tours, golfing at St. Joe Bay Golf Club, unlimited movie rentals, or free admission to the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. So, what are you waiting for? Browse our available rentals and contact us to start planning your trip. We can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures at Apalachicola River WEA!