Tagging the Florida Trail Northern Terminus

ECT Day 261&262

Day 261: 28 miles

This morning we were up and walking by 7:30am. We passed a gas station within the first few miles and stopped off for some breakfast. I got a maple chicken waffle sandwich and it was absolutely killer. Then we kept it moving.

The Blackwater Inn where we stayed last night.

We walked along the road for a couple of hours and then finally the trail ducked back into the woods. The trail was sandy and covered in pine. Lately every time we get off the road and pop into the woods it makes me so happy. My feet feel immediately better on the dirt and sand. We saw our first Florida trail orange blaze in this stretch too which was exciting.

Lovely views of a river from the road.

The first orange blaze we passed! I am officially on the Florida Trail now.

The trail continued on through the woods for a while. The time flew by because the walking was so much more comfortable and enjoyable. We passed by an old boat that was right off the trail in the woods. I don’t know how it got there, but it had been there for a while.

A boat in the middle of the woods just off the Florida Trail.

In the afternoon the trail connected back onto the road as we entered into Navarre. Then we road walked a couple miles before we passed by a brewery. Animal, a hiker who was on the AT this year, actually lives in Navarre. He reached out and said he’d come and meet us at the brewery to hangout.

Entering Navarre. The trail goes right through town.

When we got there he was already at the brewery. We dropped our packs and grabbed a drink. There was even a food truck outside to score a late lunch. The three of us hung out at the brewery for a while. Then Animal’s wife Melisa joined us as well. She was such a sweetheart.

We hung out at the brewery for a while with them. It was getting late though and we still had a handful more miles before calling it a night. We’re just hoping to be able to find a stealth site near Navarre beach. So after a while we said our goodbyes and headed on our way. We’ll see Animal again in a day or so when he picks us up in Pensacola and drives us back to the eastern portion of the trail where we veered off to head west.

Beer Run, Animal, and I at the brewery in Navarre.

The next few miles we walked through Navarre. We went past a bunch of stores and restaurants. Then eventually came to the bridge that you cross over to get to Pensacola. Luckily there was a sidewalk for us to cross the bridge. It had just gotten dark as we began to make our way across. The sunset over the ocean was breathtaking. I immediately was so happy with our choice to go all the way to Pensacola. It might add miles but is certainly going to be beautiful.

The sun setting over the ocean as we crossed from Navarre into Pensacola along the bridge.

Once we crossed the bridge we were officially in Pensacola! There were lots of hotels and restaurants there too. The first thing we did once we got over in Pensacola was to go down to the beach. We walked down onto the sand and sat there for a while. What an incredible way to end the day.

Views of Pensacola as the sun set.

We probably could have slept right there on the beach. But there wasn’t any sort of privacy there. So after a while we continued on to find a better spot to set up camp. Right across the street from a Marriott hotel and some other hotels was a big open area. We got off the road and walked through basically a wide open field to get to an area with some bushes and shrubs. They provided a bit of protection from the houses and hotels nearby. It was a nice, quiet, place and it didn’t seem like anyone would bother us. We got set up right there in the sand.

A bathroom selfie in the beach bathroom before we made camp.

Once my tent was set up I retreated inside. Then ate something and relaxed before calling it a night.

Day 262: 27 miles

This morning we made a point to pack up before the sun came up. We were a ways off the road but basically set up camp along the main strip in Pensacola. Though it turned out just fine for us.

We got moving and headed towards an area that was all houses. There was a ton of construction being done and most of the houses we passed were for rent or for sale. Because of the construction we were able to stop off and use a porta potty along the road. That was a nice surprise. Then we continued along the sidewalk past million dollar homes for a couple hours.

A house that looks like a spaceship in Pensacola.

A different house that also looked like a spaceship in Pensacola.

Eventually we came to the Gulf islands National seashore area and there were no more homes. Initially we got onto the beach and walked along it briefly. The water was so incredibly blue! Technically we could have walked along the beach for the next couple of hours. But walking in sand is exhausting. We’re already doing a pretty big day today. There was no need to make it any harder than it already had to be.

The bright blue crystal clear water as we entered Gulf Islands National Seashore.

So happy to be on the beach in Pensacola!

The road was pretty quiet within the National seashore area. After another hour or so of walking we went past a ranger station and a picnic area with bathrooms. We stopped off there to sit down briefly before continuing on. The whole area was just lovely.

Entering into Gulf Islands National Seashore.

A nice picnic area that we stopped at briefly once we crossed into the National seashore.

From there we wound up walking continuously until around 1pm. There wasn’t really any place to stop off before then. We got to enjoy epic views of the ocean the whole way. Then as we got closer to the downtown area of Pensacola beach it got even nicer. All of the sudden we were walking by palm trees and ocean views.

Arriving at Pensacola Beach! Not far now to the Florida Trail Northern Terminus.

Around 1pm we were in Pensacola beach going past fancy hotels and more nice homes. It made for some great scenic walking. I really like to look at the nice houses along the way. By about this time we had walked 17-18 miles and were ready for a break. Once in town there were tons of places to stop off and eat. But Beer Run had looked up a place nearby which seemed great. So we pushed a bit further to get there for lunch.

As we got closer to Pensacola Beach it went from nothing around us to tons of big hotels and condos.

The restaurant was called Blue Fish Red Fish and was right on the water. Beer Run has been talking about how badly he wants to eat charbroiled oysters which this place had. He wound up ordering sautéed crab legs for an appetizer. They were so well seasoned and delicious. Then for my meal I got a grouper piccata. It was served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Hands down that was the most phenomenal meal I’ve had all year. Every bite was like heaven. The flavors all paired so well together. I devoured the whole plate in no time.

The charbroiled oysters that Beer Run got had jalapeño and bacon on them. I had a couple and they were amazing as well. I definitely want to experiment with more seafood along the florida trail. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have ordered a lot of those items. But everything was so good! I need to get more adventurous when the opportunity strikes.

Jalapeño bacon charbroiled oysters.

After we ate we continued along the road through town. We went to a gas station to fill up on drinks. Inside were some teenage kids who were asking me where I was going. One kid in particular was so curious about the whole thing. His eyes really lit up hearing it. He said that no one does anything like that anyone. It was a true adventure. I always hope that after a kid hears about such a trip that they hopefully will have an adventure of their own.

Walking along the road after that we continued to pass businesses and hotels. Then came to a holiday inn express which had been marked on Far Out. Apparently they give a discount to FT hikers so I figured I’d go in and ask. At this point we were still about 9 miles from the FT northern terminus by Fort Pickings. There isn’t going to be any place to camp there and the weather is going to be crummy this evening.

Views from the balcony at our hotel of Pensacola beach.

We wound up going inside and booking a room. Then we dropped our packs at the room and called an Uber to Fort Pickings. That way we can basically just slack pack back to the hotel. Otherwise we would have to walk all the way out there and then try to get a ride back. But it’s a pretty desolate area the whole rest of the way to Fort Pickings.

Beer Run at the first Florida Trail marker at Fort Pickins. Just before the actual northern terminus marker.

The whole plan worked out perfectly. The weather had also started to get pretty bad. So it will be nice not to have to carry our packs and get them wet. We got dropped off where we would have ended our day. Then began walking south back to the hotel. Along the way we got to tag the official Northern Terminus of the Florida Trail. Now when we finish in a Big Cyprus we can say that we hiked the whole entire Florida trail!

The florida trail northern terminus!

The Fort Pickings area was beautiful and quiet. There was a campground and we walked through the woods on a nice trail. I saw an armadillo! That’s my second one so far since being in Alabama and Florida. The bad weather held off for the first hour or so as we walked. Then just about the time that it got dark it began to rain.

Fort Pickings.

Hilariously enough both of us forgot to pack our headlamps for the slack packing! And when the sun set we had easily a whole other hour of walking to do. So we just did it in the dark and made an effort to get well off the road when cars went by. It wasn’t so bad. The weather though was pretty bad towards the end. It was raining a good bit and I just had my rain jacket. So my butt wound up getting wet from the run off. It definitely could have been worse though.

My foot was really bothering me along this stretch of road walking sadly. I was getting a pretty sharp burning sensation along the top of my foot. It was quite persistent and pretty bad. But I managed to continue along.

We got back into town around 6:30-7pm and stopped off for food. I was soaked so I didn’t want to sit down anywhere to eat. We just ordered food to go to bring back to the hotel. The place that we went to was called Peg Leg Petes. I obviously couldn’t resist going there. I was also really hoping that they would have a gift shop. A town shirt that said Peg Leg Pete’s would be iconic.

Both of us ordered food and I found an adorable short at the store next to the restaurant. I’m obsessed! It’s so humid here in Florida so it will be nice to have a shirt to wear every now and then. Especially when I’m far too sweaty to sleep in my hiking clothes.

Peg Leg Pete’s restaurant.

Once the food was ready we brought it back to the room and chilled out. I took a shower and then put my new shirt on. It was love at first sight! Then I laid in bed and ate the most delicious Alfredo pasta with garlic bread. Pasta is a personal favorite while on trail.

The rest of the night we just watched TV and chilled out. Tomorrow Animal is going to come and pick us up. We’ll either have him drop us off back at the trailhead or might take a zero day tomorrow. We will see!

Even on an overcast day the beach and ocean by Pensacola were beautiful.

Pensacola beach.

A stitch toy that I found along the road walk.

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Comments 9

  • Carole Hall : Nov 27th

    I’m really enjoying your posts. Thank you

  • Steve : Nov 27th

    Look for camel lake campground near Bristol. It’s a a shame St George Island is so far south from Bristol. It’s a really nice place with high sugar white dunes in the state park there. When approaching Panacea look for Angelo &Sons seafood restaurant at hwy 98 on the left just before the bridge. Have to check ahead for their hours during fall and winter. Hope bulldozers (Florida lobsters that they stuff with devilled crab) are in season.

    Enjoying your blog, wish you all the best in your hike.

    When you are done and heading north, Cumberland Island in St Mary’s Georgia is a nice stop offering camping, sandy beaches, live oakes and wild horses.

  • George : Nov 28th

    thank you for this excellent blog. The spaceship shaped houses at Pensacola are no doubt inspired by the Gulf Breeze UFO sightings wave & Ed Walters boof from the 1980’s….

    • BionicWoman : Nov 28th

      They’re built that way to deflect hurricane winds around them instead of through them

  • Gingerbreadman : Nov 28th

    Kudos to u’s guy’s…just heard story of the greatest thru hiker of all time…kind of a young grandma Gatewood. …in 1927, Lillian Alling left NYC walking across Canada to the Yukon where she took a row boat down to the ocean & supposedly a ferry back to her Siberian home. There’s even an opera about it. Probably mostly a road walk; she should have written a book!

  • Paul Workman : Nov 28th

    I hiked the Florida trail! It’s great to read about your adventure, I hope for the best!

  • Vince : Nov 28th

    If you go by Medart or Panacea, check out Hammanocker’s Barbecue. You won’t be disappointed.
    Vince, aka The Dude, SOBO, LASH, A/T, ’16, ’17, ’18, and hopefully ’24.

  • BionicWoman : Nov 28th

    FYI… It’s Fort Pickens not Fort Pickings. Glad you had a good time on the trail. Peg Leg Pete’s is a great place to eat.

  • JojoSmiley : Jan 10th

    Hello Pegleg,
    I hear you have finished your ECT. Congratulations! My friend Rascal sent me a note concerning your hike and I read a few of your posts and am reminded of my hike up there as well as in Florida. Good job! Enjoy your next adventure.
    Jojo Smiley AT99, ECT02, PCT08, CDT and a few others. Life is a grand adventure, Savor the Moments!


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