The Best Day Hike You Can Take With Your Dog In Florida

Gap Point Nature Trail
St. George Island State Park • St. George Island

You can just about count the number of Florida panhandle Gulf of Mexico beaches that welcome dogs on one paw. St. George Island, a narrow 22-mile strip of land that creates oyster-rich Apalachicola Bay, is one of those places so you can be sure many dog owners will want to make their way across the Bryant G. Patton Bridge to the park where nine miles of beaches and dunes have been spared from development.

As a bonus for canine hikers who want more than a long walk on a sparkling white unspoiled beach the Gap Point Nature Trail offers a 2.5-mile ribbon of sand road through slash pine forests and hearty coastal scrub. In days gone by turpentiners made their way to this island four miles offshore to tap the large pines for naval stores. Many “cat-face” scars can still be seen in tree trunks on this canine hike.

Elevation change will be minimal, save for the occasional dune, but the sugar sands will take their toll on weary legs. As you close in on Gap Point at the end of the peninsula opportunities for Seaman to jump into the friendly waters of Apalachicola Bay will come in a flurry. The bayside beach is studded with photogenic ghost trees and a few surviving arboreal warriors still waging the good fight at land’s end. All provide perches for a variety of seabirds and ample ammunition for a game of fetch in the Gulf of Mexico before retracing the sandy pawprints to the trailhead.

HIKING TIME: 2-3 hours

(from the book 300 Day Hikes To Take With Your Dog Before He Tires You Out: Trails where you won’t be able to wipe the wag off your dog’s tail)

 

National Parks with Hiking

Big Cypress National Preserve
Dogs are allowed on the trails but not in the backcountry

Canaveral National Seashore
Dogs are not allowed beyond the parking lot

Everglades National Park
Dogs are not allowed on the developed trails or in the backcountry

Fort Caroline National Memorial

Gulf Island National Seashore
Dogs are not allowed on the beach in this park

Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve
Dogs are allowed throughout this park

State Parks With Hiking

Florida State Parks
Dogs are excluded from the following places in Florida state parks: food-service areas, designated camping areas, cabins, bathing and swimming areas including land and water portions, park buildings, playgrounds, and other designated areas. 
Some parks permit dogs in campgrounds - proof of rabies vaccination is required.

Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens State Park
Bahia Honda State Park
Big Lagoon State Park
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Blackwater River State Park
Bulow Creek State Park
Caladesi Island State Park
Cayo Costa State Park 
Collier-Seminole State Park
Dead Lakes State Park
Deer Lake State Park 
Econfina River State Park 
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
Falling Waters State Park 
Florida Caverns State Park 
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
Grayton Beach State Park 
Henderson Beach State Park 
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
John D. Mac Arthur Beach State Park
Koreshan State Historic Site 
Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
Lake Talquin State Park 
Little Manatee River State Park
Long Key State Park  
Manatee Springs State Park
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
Myakka River State Park 
O'Leno State Park  
Ochlocknee River State Park
Oscar Scherer State Park 
Oteta River State Park 
Paynes Creek Historic State Park 
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
Ravine Gardens State Park
Rocky Bayou State Park
San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park 
St. Andrews State Park 
St. George Island State Park 
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park 
Suwannee River State Park 
Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad Trail State Park
Three Rivers State Park 
Tomoka State Park  
Torreya State Park  
Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park
Wakulla Springs State Park

 

Hiking With Your Dog In Florida