Seven Hills to the Sea Bicycle Tour
Camping second night:
St. George Island State Park, PO Box 62, Eastpoint, FL 32328, (904) 927-2111. Reservations necessary January through Labor Day.
Most of the day's 47 miles are spent riding along the Gulf with spectacular views of the open water and off shore barrier islands. After 6 miles on US 319, the route travels on US 98 for 25 miles into Carrabelle and Eastpoint. Use special caution on holiday weekends or during vacation season. Note the sabal palms (Florida's state tree) planted in the median and the famous phone booth-sized police station in Carrabelle.
Carrabelle and Eastpoint are classic fishing villages, deriving most of their livelihood from the sea. A ferry from Carrabelle once a day is the only link to the mainland for many residents on Dog Island, and the one bed and breakfast inn which hosts visitors on this secluded spot.
Don't miss a visit to the State Forestry Division's Carrabelle Fire Tower on the east side of town. It affords one of the best views of the area. On the Gulf shore ride between Carrabelle and Eastpoint, the road cuts through dune country. Watch for sand on the road and dolphins playing in St. George Sound. 3 miles west of Carrabelle, Carrabelle Beach makes a great picnic stop with cement tables and pavilions and a small sandy beach.
Eastpoint is a town composed of fish and oyster houses strung along the roadside waterfront. Look for the oystermen with their flat skiffs and long handled double rakes working the oyster beds of the sound as you cross the bridge to St. George Island. The oyster harvest area is rotated each season to different beds allowing year round harvesting without depleting the population. The protected waters of St. George Sound contain more than 10,000 acres of oyster beds and produce the majority of Florida's annual yield.
St. George Island is a classic barrier island, long and narrow, paralleling the coast a few miles offshore. Shifting sands are everywhere, with pine trees on the leeward side and spectacular beaches and good shelling on the windward side. The state park is at the end of the road to the northeast. The ride to the end of the pavement in the park is a great "tour de dune" with an historical marker explaining pirate history in the area.
The park is very enjoyable, especially during the off season from October to March. On holidays and during spring and summer months, it becomes crowded.
The highways carry a moderate amount of traffic. Traffic volume increases on holiday weekends and during the summer season. Watch for logging trucks. The prevailing winds are from the southeast, and wind can be a big factor during a ride along the coast.
The bridge across the sound is 4.4 miles long with 10 foot lanes and no shoulder. The crossing is a trip in itself. Causeways are interspersed with bridge spans allowing boat passage through the sound. The climb over the highest span is 0.4 miles long and at the top affords a breath taking view of St. George Island. The toll for bicycles is $1.50 each round trip.
While riding near the dunes watch for sand spurs. These are tough little thorns growing near beaches and dunes that can puncture thin tires and bare feet.
Convenience stores and restaurants are located in Carrabelle, Eastpoint and on St. George Island. Carrabelle is the largest town encountered during the day with a full range of stores available: hardware, grocery, pharmacy, and motels. The few stores on St. George Island, just after crossing the bridge are the closest to the park;
But, as with any isolated resort area, prices are high. Lanark Village has a laundrymat and cafe. Motels are located along the Gulf.
Directions from Ochlockonee River State Park to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
0.0 From Ochlockonee River State Park turn left onto US 319.
0.7 Enter Franklin County at Ochlockonee River.
3.6 St. James Fire Tower.
6.1 Turn right onto US 98 & 319.
6.6 View of Gulf of Mexico.
10.7 Lanark Village.
11.1 View of Dog Island.
14.8 At the Carrabelle Fire Tower turn left onto SR 30A.
16.1 Enter Carrabelle.
16.5 Turn left on US 98.
17.4 Cross Carrabelle River Bridge.
19.0 Carrabelle Beach.
29.0 Pass SR 65.
32.2 Enter Eastpoint.
33.1 Turn left onto unmarked road at Suwannee Swifty Store for back road to St. George Island Bridge.
33.8 Turn left on unmarked road, bear left to bridge.
33.9 Toll booth.
38.4 St. George Island.
38.8 Turn left at sign for St. George Island State Park (first road to left after sign is the through road).
43.1 Entrance to St. George Island State Park.
Total Trip Mileage to date: 74.6
As well as these directions, you should bring along your own map, in case you miss a turn, get lost, a road changes, or for any of the other thousands of reasons that you may need to vary your route.
Many thanks to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for this tour description.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication