Horseback Riding in the Tallahassee Area of Florida
Sue Noyes of the Southern Trailriders Association shares great horseback riding trails in the Tallahassee area of Florida for the Equitrekking 50 State Trail Riding Project.
Equestrians have many unique and amazing opportunities to ride a variety of trails in the Tallahassee area and to experience the southern charm and natural beauty of North Florida. Some trails are exclusively for equestrians and others are multiple use. Come and explore all Tallahassee has to offer. Below is a list of more than 100 miles of trails that can be enjoyed by equestrians visiting the Tallahassee area.
Horseback riding with the Southern Trailriders Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of equestrian trails.
Diverse scenery in the Fort Braden Tract of the Lake Talquin State Forest. Photo by Marti Miller, Florida Forest Service.
1. Phipps Park consists of 670 acres of pine and hardwood forests, fields and lake views. There are over 10 miles of trails and a marked 5-mile horse trail which is mostly on a multi-use trail; however, we do have some single track trails to enjoy. Phipps Park is home of the Red Hills Horse Trials.
2. Lake Overstreet Trail at Maclay Gardens State Park consists of 877 acres and has 5 miles of multi-use forest canopy trails that offer views of the lake and ravines. This trail is also accessible from Phipps Park through the Forest Meadows Athletic Center.
A resting spot on shoreline of Lake Overstreet. Photo by Arlen Egley.
3. Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway is a six mile long hardwood canopy trail and has 17 miles of trail in open pastures and the surrounding woodlands. There is a multiple use trail and several single track trails for equestrians to enjoy that include bridges to cross. Leon County is currently resurfacing the multiple use trails with a horse friendly crushed oyster shell.
4. J. R. Alford Greenway consists of 874 acres of open pasture and forested woodlands. There are 17.5 miles of multi-use trails and some single tracks that offer views of Lake Lafayette. The trails also follow an active railroad line on the west side.
5. Fort Braden Tract of Lake Talquin State Forest consists of 1,242 acres and contains 12 miles of mostly single track marked horse trails that offer a variety of terrain with many creek crossings, ravine slopes and views from high bluffs of Lake Talquin. This trail was voted the favorite in North Florida several years in a row.
A beautiful tree in the Fort Braden Tract. Photo by Marti Miller, Florida Forest Service.
6. Joe Budd Wildlife Management Area of Lake Talquin State Forest consists of 11,000 acres and provides 24 miles of wood roads through pine and hardwood stands. There are also some unmarked single track trails with creek crossings that give beautiful views of the Little River.
An organized Florida trail ride with the Southern Trailriders Association.
7. Rocky Comfort Wildlife Management Area of Lake Talquin State Forest is a 400-acre tract just west of Joe Budd (separated by Lake Talquin). It offers several miles of wood roads through pine and hardwood stands, creeks and ravines.
8. In Wakulla State Forest, the Double Springs Multi-use trail loop is 4.5 miles in length. Riders should expect an amazing trail that will include low water crossings, inclines, and winding trails. For riders who prefer exploring off the marked trails, nineteen miles of service roads closed to vehicles transect the forest.
9. Tallahassee-St. Marks Rail Trail is a 16-mile long trail that contains a separate horse trail that meanders near the multiple-use paved trail. It is canopied for most of the way and abuts the Apalachicola National Forest for the first five or six miles. There are no marked horse trails in the national forest, but horseback riding is allowed. The trail takes you through the community of Woodville and once you reach US98, the separate trail runs out because of wetlands and horses must travel next to the paved trail for about three miles to reach the town of St. Marks.
St. Marks Rail Trail. Photo credit Southern Trailriders Association.
10. St. Marks River Preserve State Park is a new park and has about 1,200 acres of uplands. They are creating beautiful multi-use trails. There is a river crossing and the terrain on the north side of the river is hilly and forested compared to the flat terrain on the south side.
11. Apalachicola National Forest contains about 550,000 acres and spans four counties but currently doesn't have an official horse trail system. Southern Trailriders Association is temporarily marking trails out of approved trailhead sites until a formalized trail system is developed. The trailheads are Rivers Road, Spring Hill Road and Aenon Church Road. The ones at Rivers Road are completed and consist of four trails of varying lengths. Marking trails in the other two trailheads are underway and will be completed soon.
12. Otter Creek Recreation Area of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge offers approximately 10 miles of multiple use trails through woodlands near the community of Panacea on the coast. There is a picnic area at the trailhead and water is available.
Florida on horseback with the Southern Trailriders Association.
13. St. Marks Lighthouse in Newport of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge offers 18 miles of multiple use trails through pine forests and levees. Sightings of deer, black bear, alligators, eagles, ospreys and more are frequent.
Overnight accommodations for equestrians are available at Mahan Farms. For a more primitive experience in the Lake Talquin State Forest, the Primitive Group Camp Site is accessible by vehicle with a Forestry Special Use Permit. The campsite can accommodate vehicles with or without trailers. The site includes three small paddocks for overnight equestrian camping. The campsite has no facilities or water access, just space and solitude. Maximum of three vehicles. Maximum stay is 14 days.
About the author: Sue Noyes is a member of the Southern Trailriders Association, a nonprofit organization that has been promoting and developing horse trails in the area for over 20 years. For more information on how you can join or learn of the projects that the STA is working on, please go to southerntrailriders.org.