Torreya State Park

Fall foliage growing out of limestone bluff on the Apalachicola River.

The Apalachicola River is an essential ecosystem for Florida's oysters and tree species. The geologic landscape in Bristol, Florida contains a lot of limestone. As the Apalachicola carves through the limestone, it exposes tall bluffs. In this unique landscape, a rare tree species thrives, the Florida Torreya (torreya taxifolia). Early residents coined these trees "stinking cedar" for their smell, but a botanist renamed the tree in the 1800s to what it is known as today. Also called the Florida Nutmeg, this tree is incredibly rare and only found here in Liberty County and in scattered sections of Eastern Asia. Keep an eye out for these evergreens on the trails throughout the park.

 

Tucked away from the bank, a historic house is open to the public. After Native Americans were driven out of this area, likely the Apalachee tribe, Jason Gregory had a plantation house built in the 1840s. The park offers daily tours giving a plethora of information about the way of life in 19th century Florida. Fun fact: this house used to reside on the other side of the river!

The fall foliage, hiking trails (with actual elevation change!), and seasonal weather make this state park unlike any other in Florida. Because of the cooler temperatures, this state park has some of the best camping Florida has to offer. Plus, Bristol is only an hour away from Tallahassee and can serve as the perfect weekend getaway. Pack up your warmest jacket (a cardigan should be fine) and hiking boots and head on over.