Seven Hills to the Sea Bicycle Tour
Wakulla Springs State Park, One Spring Drive, Wakulla Springs, FL 32305, (805) 922-3633. No camping here, but there is a lodge. Call (805) 224-5950 for reservations.
Camping first night:
Ochlockonee River State Park, P.O. Box 5, Sopchoppy, FL 32358, (805) 962-2771
A short ride of 28 miles on the first day allows plenty of time to explore Wakulla Springs before leaving. The spring is one of the largest and deepest in Florida with as much as 12,000 gallons per second flowing from the underground cavern. Glass bottom and "jungle" boat cruises introduce the spring and the abundance of wildlife living along the spring run. Birdlife is everywhere including anhingas (snake birds), bald eagles, osprey, herons, purple gallinules and the rare limpkins. Watch for alligators, turtles sunning on logs and snakes in the tree branches. The park has no campground, but a quaint, Spanish style hotel furnishes overnight accommodations with dining room and soda fountain. Swimming in the spring water is wonderfully refreshing on a hot day.
10 miles south of Wakulla is another spectacular spring, just 2 miles off the route at Spring Creek. Here a huge submarine cavern, 30 feet in diameter and 20 feet offshore pumps even more fresh water into the Gulf than flows from the mighty Wakulla. The immediate shoreline actually has 8 to 14 springs discharging so much water that the Gulf is 80 % fresh water even out one mile. The spring "boil" can be readily seen at low tide and is great for swimming. It is located at the end of the road, 75 yards from Spring Creek Restaurant.
22 miles from Wakulla Springs is the small rural town of Sopchoppy. It is appropriately named with the local Indian word for red oak, since timbering has been this area's main source of revenue for many years.
The route skirts the boundary of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge until arriving at Ochlockonee River State Park. The focal point of this park is the river, famous for its fish ... bass, bream and perch. The campgrounds are nestled in scenic pine flatwoods and a swimming area is available.
From Wakulla Springs the route goes south over quiet rural roads until it meets larger highways. A short, 1.4 mile stretch on US 98, the Gulf Coast Highway, carries more traffic, but the lanes are wide. US 319 is less traveled. Watch for log trucks on both US 98 and US 319. The terrain of the route is very flat.
A few convenience stores are located along the route at miles 9, 16, 22 and 23. The grocery stores in Sopchoppy are the last ones before reaching Ochlockonee River State Park.
Directions from Wakulla Springs State Park to Ochlockonee River State Park
0.0 From Wakulla Springs State Park turn left onto SR 267.
0.1 Cross SR 61.
1.0 Turn left onto CR 365 (Old Shell Point). First paved road on the left after crossing SR 61.
4.9 Jog left then right across SR 61 to continue on "Old Shell Point".
9.0 Cross US 98 to continue on "C-365".
10.2 Bear right at "Y" intersection to stay on CR 365 (C-367 goes left to Shell Point).
11.7 Turn right onto CR 375 (Jack Crum Rd).
15.4 Turn left onto US 98.
16.3 Enter Medart.
16.8 Turn right onto US 319 when road forks.
22.5 Enter Sopchoppy, stay on US 319.
23.2 Bear left at intersection with CR 375 to stay on US 319.
25.9 Cross Sopchoppy River.
27.5 Entrance to Ochlockonee River State Park.
Total Trip Mileage to date: 27.5
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