Information was furnished from The Guide to the Big Bend Scenic Byway, authors Diane Delaney and Don Lesh, Florida Foresight, Inc.
So where do you want to go? The Scenic Byway offers two distinct choices: the Coastal Trail and the Forest Trail. Each is divided into three segments: East, Central, and West. No matter where you are staying along the Byway, you can easily reach one or more of these segments. The Guide will help you understand what activities, facilities, and attractions to expect.
Though the distances may seem short, remember to allow plenty of time. The Byway travels along two-lane roads through rural communities and open countryside. Take your time and enjoy the views. Driving slowly also helps wildlife, keep your eyes open for Black Bear, Bobcat, White-Tailed Deer, River Otter, Fox Squirrel, Raccoon, Pine Snake, and other critters that may cross the road. Several wildlife photographs in The Guide were taken directly from the roadway. Also, please do not feed or disturb wildlife. Animals, especially Alligators and Black Bears that have become accustomed to human handouts or garbage, can become dangerous which often results in their being killed or displaced.
Look at the Facilities Chart before you begin your trip. Some segments do not have restaurants, so plan accordingly. Stop by a deli or pack a great picnic lunch. Some roads through forests and natural areas (Ft. Braden to Sopchoppy and SR 65) do not have service stations for many miles, so it’s always prudent to start your trip with a full tank of gas.
Would you like to kayak or canoe down a scenic river? Go fishing or horseback riding? There are outfitters along the Byway to make any activity a reality and canoe and kayak rentals are readily available. The Guide provides contact information for Chambers of Commerce and Tourist Development Councils in each county. They will be happy to give you the names and numbers of outfitters, guides, and rental sites. There are ample opportunities in the forests for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. Trails for Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) are being expanded. Some recommended side trips are on graded dirt roads. The Guide indicates their location. Under normal conditions they can easily be driven by regular two-wheel drive vehicles. However, these roads are not suitable for large travel homes and should not be attempted during or soon after heavy rain.
How much time you allot for a given segment depends on the type and number of activities that you are planning. You can spend two hours or two days in each segment. It’s up to you. Please note that recreational licenses are required for fishing and hunting. They can be purchased at county tax collectors offices, sporting goods stores, and other retailers selling hunting or fishing equipment, or call 1- 888/347-4356. Though certain species are hunted year-round, hunting activity is generally at its peak from mid-November through mid-January.
You are strongly encouraged to wear bright clothing, preferably a hunter orange vest or hat, if you are visiting forested areas at this time.
You do not need a fishing license if you are:
A child under age 16.
Fishing from a guide, charter, or party boat that has a valid vessel license.
A Florida resident fishing from land or a structure fixed to land.
A Florida resident 65 years or older.
There are relatively few biting insects from late fall to early spring but in the middle of spring they do come back. Please take insect repellent with you as well as suntan lotion and plenty of water for outings during warmer months.
Located at the juncture of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers, St. Marks has one of the longest histories of any place in Florida. In fact the city may be the third oldest settlement in North America. Today the city retains much of its charm with a marina, restaurants, and city park along the waterfront. Boat rentals, gas, lodging, and a bed and breakfast inn, as well as fishing and guide services, are available.
Continue on US 98 .6 of a mile into Panacea, a long-time commercial fishing village and a designated Waterfronts Florida community. Panacea is steeped in maritime history, from the early days of catching huge runs of Mullet by hand drawn seine nets to later oystering, shrimping, and crabbing. Panacea has antique shops, a grocery store, gas stations, post office, lodging, seafood restaurants, a marina, marine supplies, fishing guides, RV camping, and several retail seafood houses offering fresh Grouper, Shrimp, Oysters, and other delicacies.
Florida Tourism Marketing Corporation
Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 598, 23 High Drive,Old Wakulla Courthouse,
Crawfordville, FL 32326
P: 850-926-1848; “¨firstname.lastname@example.org
Wakulla County Tourist Development Council
P.O. Box 67
Panacea, FL 32346
Wakulla County Welcome Center
493 Coastal Highway (US 98 across from Mineral Springs Park)
Panacea, FL 32346
Headquarters, Apalachicola National Forest
57 Taff Drive, Crawfordville, FL 32346
State of Florida
Florida’s Official Website, myflorida.com