Oct. 3, 2014
~North Florida gem recognized as a national treasure~
Photo credit: Doug Alderson
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Recreation and Parks celebrates designation of the state’s 42nd national recreation trail. This summer the U.S. Department of Interior designated the Apalachicola RiverBlueway as a National Recreational Trail. The National Recreation Trail designation distinguishes trails that link communities and support recreational activities.
“I am very excited about the designation,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “This confirms what Floridians have known all along about the Apalachicola River – that it is a true natural treasure worth celebrating. The opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, fishing and seeing wildlife are tremendous.”
The Apalachicola River Blueway is already a designated Florida paddling trail, which distinguishes it as among the top river trails in Florida within the Florida Greenways and Trails system. The Florida Greenways and Trails system works to connect and highlight trails across the state. In order for a river to become designated as a paddling trail it must fit a number of criteria for protecting and/or enhancing natural, recreational, cultural or historic resources.
The Apalachicola River spans 106 miles from the town of Chattahoochee toApalachicola Bay. The river accounts for up to 35 percent of freshwater flow on the west coast of Florida and is the highest flowing river in the state. The river is also home to a variety of fish and wildlife habitats and is considered a biodiversity hot spot. There are more than 40 camping areas and points-of-interest along the trail.
The National Recreation Trail designation was announced in conjunction with 21 additional trails in 11 different states on June 7 in celebration of National Trails Day. The designation raises the profile of the blueway and will likely result in an increase invisitation by Florida residents and visitors and possibly new eco-tourism business ventures.
The department is participating in a five-day paddling trip down the length of the river Oct. 7-11 known as RiverTrek. This is the seventh year for the event, which celebrates the river and raises funds for conservation. The event will kick off at Clyde Hopkins Park in Chattahoochee and will finish at Apalachicola Riverfront Park. The participants will be greeted along the way by elected officials representing local towns and regionswho will speak about the river’s importance and the National Recreation Trail designation. Florida Paddling Trails Association President Tom McLaulin will also be presenting blueway community signs to the river towns of Chattahoochee, Blountstown, Wewahitchka and Apalachicola at RiverTrek events.
For more information about the RiverTrek and how to support the event click here.
For further information about the river, maps and tips for planning a trip click here.