Seven Hills to the Sea Bicycle Tour
Camping fifth night:
Torreya State Park, Route 2, Box 70, Bristol, FL 32321, (904) 643-2674
Even though this day's mileage is a bit less, an early start is a good idea. Such a departure allows completion of the more heavily trafficked miles on SR 71 earlier in the day when traffic is lighter.
The route passes through rural farmland on this day's travel. From Bristol north, the topography changes dramatically with the approach of the red clay hills of the Piedmont. Vistas emerge on the bluff tops, and speedy descents down hills are the rewards of the uphill grades.
At the end of the ride, Torreya State Park is one of Florida's most scenic and distinctive parks. Set on high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River, the park has a plantation house built in 1849. It was relocated to this site from the opposite shore of the river by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) crews in the 1950s.
The steep hills climb more than 150 feet above the river, a great rise in elevation by Florida standards. Deep ravines cut through the bedrock. These shady, cool pockets provide a unique habitat, which maintains many types of hardwoods and other types of plant and animal life that are more common in the Appalachian Mountains. The park takes its name from the rare Torreya trees that grow on the bluffs, one of the few places in the world where they are found.
Rougher pavement conditions exist on quite a few miles of the route, especially on C-69 enroute to Blountstown and north of Bristol on the back roads into Torreya State Park. Expect increased traffic on SR 71. The bridge over Apalachicola River between Blountstown and Bristol is very narrow and carries heavy car and truck traffic. However, cyclists can share a dedicated pedestrian span to avoid the heavier vehicular traffic. The pavement on C-275 and C-69 tends to be rough, however the surface improves by mile 22. Watch for the cattle guard just before the entrance of the park. Be sure to slow down and cross cautiously but purposefully at right angles to the rails in the guard.
Convenience stores are located along miles 7, 13, 29 (in Blountstown), and 32 (Bristol). Be sure to stock up in Blountstown or Bristol before heading north to Torreya. You will pass no stores enroute to the state park after leaving Bristol.
Directions from Dead Lakes State Park to Torreya State Park
0.5 Turn right onto SR 71.
4.8 Enter Calhoun County.
7.5 Continue straight on SR 71 at SR 73 intersection.
13.0 Chipola River.
15.1 Turn right onto CR C-275.
17.5 Turn left onto CR C-69.
26.3 Calhoun Correctional Institution.
27.6 Turn right onto SR 71.
29.0 In Blountstown turn right onto SR 20 (East Central Ave).
30.6 Begin 1.6 mile bridge over Apalachicola River.
32.2 Enter Liberty County.
32.9 Enter Bristol.
33.5 Turn left onto SR 12.
36.5 Enter Robert Brent Wildlife Management Area.
37.4 Turn left onto CR 270.
45.4 Turn left onto S-270 at "T" intersection.
46.5 Entrance to Torreya State Park. Caution - cattle guard.
Total Trip Mileage to date:
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