National forests are renown for offering outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and—a favorite for motorcycle riders—scenic byways!
In this segment of On the Road, we’ll look at the Big Bend Scenic Byway, located in the Apalachicola National Forest, which is just west of Tallahassee, Fla. There are several scenic byways in the Apalachicola National Forest. The easiest to access from Tallahassee is the Big Bend Scenic Byway.
The Big Bend Scenic Byway has two unique designations that are used to identify different scenic sections. Taken together, the different parts of this scenic byway system total 220 miles. There are too many points of interest along the way to list here (check out the link above for further details on places to stop), which is a nice problem to have. Many riders can cover 200-plus miles in a day. But If you like to explore all the sights, and stop to take pictures, plan on spending two days to experience all of this byway.
The Forest Trail Byway exists as two separate sections. The western section runs along State Route 65 from the juncture with U.S. Route 98 on the coast. It travels north to connect with the Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway.
The eastern section begins and ends at two different points along U.S. Route 98. The southern end is at SummerCamp Beach and the northern end is in Newport. This is the longest section of the Forest Trail, and it’s also the closest to Tallahassee.
The Coastal Trail Byway’s southern terminus is in Apalachicola. It heads north along U.S. Route 98 to Newport. Along the southern section, there is a spur that connects at Eastpoint. It crosses the Bryant Patton Bridge and runs to the St. George Island State Park. Another spur in the northern section starts at the juncture of Florida State Road 363 and leads to St. Marks. The final spur leads from Newport on Lighthouse Road to the St. Marks Lighthouse.
This loop will take you on the eastern section of the Forest Trail Byway and part of the Coastal Trail Byway. It’s easy to pick up the eastern section of the Big Bend Scenic Forest Trail Byway by heading west out of Tallahassee on State Road 20.
When you reach the juncture with State Road 263, you’re on the byway. Continue riding west on State Road 20, and then turn south at the juncture of State Road 375 to head toward the town of Sopchoppy. There you will take U.S. Route 319 south to connect with U.S. Route 98 at SummerCamp Beach.
Ride east on U.S. Route 98, the Coastal Trail Byway, until you arrive in Newport. In Newport, you will head north on State Road 267, then turn right onto County Road 2203 in Hilliardville. When you reach the juncture of State Road 263, turn north. State Road 263 will take you past the Tallahassee Regional Airport and connect with State Road 20 to complete the loop.
Till next time, enjoy the forests and coast of Florida. And, as always, ride safe!