It was time to drive across the Florida panhandle from Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to Sopchoppy. We love to take the back roads to see the real America so off we went north on the non-toll bridge in Santa Rosa over the Choctawatchee Bay and on to Highway 20 to drive east across the panhandle. We could have driven on up to I-10 to drive the interstate but we find the back roads (usually) much more pleasant. This route did not disappoint us. Most of the drive is quiet, nice quality roads through forested areas including the Apalachicola National Forest. It was beautiful and a great drive and before long we arrived in Sopchoppy. What a cute little town. Be sure to not miss the Sopchoppy Opry!!
The beautiful Ochlockonee River State Park is south of Sophchoppy and nestled in the pine flatwoods. The campground is along the Ochlockonee River and has 30 sites.
Campground: Ochlockonee River State Park
Location: Sopchoppy, Florida
Site: 16 (Loop A)
Services: E/W (50AMP)
Comments: We love this park, we love this part of the Florida panhandle, and we loved our site. The river is just behind our site and along the river trail which made for easy access. It was quiet and peaceful and lots of stars at night. We did not want to leave. The weather was a bit chilly which made it perfect to have campfires both in the morning and in the evening.
Ochlockonee (Hitchiti Indian language) means “yellow waters” and the Ochlockonee River is a mix of brackish, tidal surge, and fresh water that flows into the Gulf of Mexico and has drained the yellow and red clay soils of the upland area (the famous Georgia red clay). The views of the river at the state park show raw nature and untouched by humans (for the most part). It is fabulous.
The trails through the flatwoods are lovely with deer running around and lots of evidence of pig damage. The wild pigs have caused extensive damage to land including agricultural land and residential land. There are an estimated 500,000 wild pigs in Florida. They love acorns but will forage on any agricultural crop of livestock feed and also love tree seeds and seedlings. We saw extensive damage in the forest as we hiked the trails. They had torn up the trails and with the recent rains it had turned to mud. Some areas were a bit difficult to get through without walking through tall grass. It is still a beautiful area and nice hikes.
The campground has lots of squirrels, I mean LOTS of squirrels. They are even known for white morph squirrels (not albinos). There were white squirrels in our site daily and constantly being chased by the brown squirrels. The white squirrel would hang from the side of the tree with his/her back claws holding on to the bark and the front claws dangling in the air. Why? We don’t know but we read it was to help them stretch. Hmmm… They were fun to watch and just hope they didn’t do any damage to our vehicle wiring!!!
With out site being right next to the river it meant it was easy to go out by the river and catch glimpses of sunrise, sunset, and the night stars. It was so beautiful and so quiet. I love this place.