August 2015: Bear Creek Educational Forest

Tallahassee, Florida

The journey of the Ochlockonee River from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico was interrupted on the outskirts of Tallahassee in 1927 by the construction of Jackson Bluff Dam to generate electricity, create recreationand produce waterfront real estate. The river backed up enough to create the 8,850-acre Lake Talquin. Bear Creek Educational Forest is a 492-acre tract of the Lake Talquin State Forest. Opened late in 2005, programs are offered for free to school and youth groups.  

The full trail system at Bear Creek sweeps away from the same trailhead as you work your way downhill to the forest’s two feature routes. The Ravine Trailis a sporty 1.4-mile loop that travels above the vegetation-choked Beaver Pond. Your dog will be bounding up inclines and past steephead ravines as the path twists and turns. This is the best place in Northwest Florida for tree identification. In addition to an interpretive brochure the signposts continue for the entire trip and often repeat to reinforce the learning of the native species. More paw-friendly hiking is available on the orange-blazed Bear Creek Trailthat traverses hardwood forests and a longleaf pine-and-wiregrass community. All the hiking at Bear Creek is under a shaded canopy and guaranteed to give your dog a workout.

The Living Forest Trailis a half-mile paved path that switches down the west side of a ravine. If your dog has the patience you can stop and listen to “talking trees” describe the native trees and plants and animals by simply pushing a button. 

West of town via I-10. Take Exit 181 and head south on SR 267 for 4.8 miles to tract entrance on left.