View toward the river from the end of the campground
We had the best hike of 2015 at this park and the Weeping Ridge Campground! For us, the hiking is the best feature of this park. There are many small nature trails/hikes, but there are two main longer and challenging hikes, each 7 miles long over very diverse terrain with lots of different views and scenery.
I’m not good at summarizing so here is a bit about the park from the official website: “High bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River make Torreya one of Florida’s most scenic places. The park is named for an extremely rare species of Torreya tree that only grows on the bluffs along the Apalachicola River. Developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, Torreya is popular for camping, hiking, and picnicking. Bird-watching is also a popular activity. Over 100 species of birds have been spotted in the park. Forests of hardwood trees provide the finest display of fall color found in Florida.”
This park is very isolated, so it was quiet from the sounds of traffic or mass transportation (no trains, planes or fast automobiles). But this also means, we had to come well-stocked. We had read reviews, so we were prepared. We also loved waking up to the sounds of serenading birds. It really doesn’t get much better than this….except for a few minor inconveniences that we have to accept as they go along with the lifestyle. Dirt roads means dirty vehicles; spring time, so lots of pollen; and then the dreaded mosquito season! And as we were warned, the copperheads were starting to move – mating season! Fortunately, we didn’t see one…or at least come close to one. We may have passed one and it’s camouflage worked!
We took four hikes and left the “Torreya Challenge” for our next visit. What we loved most about the hiking were the views of Apalachicola River, which feeds the productive Apalachicola Bay, the high plateaus, steep bluffs, the deep ravines, the rich hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods, and hiking down into floodplain forests.
Our first hike was on the Weeping Ridge Trail. It said allow 30 minutes and it was every bit that! We went down into a deep ravine…but then you have to climb back up! We’re glad we had our hiking poles and used them. Here are a few pictures from this hike:
Trail head on the west side and middle part of the campground.
It was 1.6 miles for us and took 33 minutes of actual moving. We did stop and enjoyed the scenery.
Headed to the Weeping Ridge
This was what we hiked to see. May not be a waterfall, but it was very interesting and a great warm up hike to the area.
All the trails are well marked and maintained.
Trails were wide in places and some had many roots.
On our day two, we decided to hike the Torreya Trail, which is about 7 miles. Debbie was feeling so good and excited to be in such a great hiking environment, she took a long way to the dumpster and clocked a mile before the big hike started. Her final total was 8.04 mile for a total walking time of two hours and 45 minutes. Bill hiked the full 7 miles. We were outside in this beautiful park nearly 5 hours by the time we returned to our campsite. We enjoyed all the scenery and had a snack while we sat on a bench, enjoying the river. Here are a few pictures of this hike, which captures the best this park has to offer – having not seen the Torreya Challenge!
On day three, we decided to take a shorter hike. We tried to get to the trailhead for the Torreya Challenge. We walked at least three miles round trip and never made it there. It was quite a hike just trying to get over there so we decided we will just have to come back! So we made a great campfire and enjoyed the campground.
On our day 4 was a bonus to the park, touring of the Historic Gregory House. From a website, a few details: the Gregory House is “beautiful Southern mansion built in 1849, the house is open to the public on a daily basis. The house was built by Jason Gregory, a prominent Calhoun County planter, in 1849. The home originally stood across the river from the state park at Ocheesee Landing, but was moved here and restored during the
Here are a few pictures from our tour, given by one of the Park Rangers. Click on the image to make it larger:
Entering the property
Approaching the house from parking lot
Backside, or really the front!
View from the porch
View from upstairs
Most furnishing were from the era. This is a petticoat mirror where the women could check their skirts.
Rosewood piano from the 1860s
View toward the parking lot from upstairs
This bedroom was original furniture from the oldest sister of Jason Gregory.
It’s all matching, Tiger Wood.
The parks namesake!
Trying to preserve the delicate trees.
We hope to return here next winter, January-February time frame. Our next stop is our last Florida State Park for a while, Little Talbot Island in Jacksonville.
For a full write up about Torreya State Park campground, our review is here on Campendium.