The two trails that lead you to the water are the Black Rock and the Shoreline. The Shoreline trail starts at the north parking lot picnic area and takes you to a beach covered in uprooted live oaks that form sun-bleached driftwood forests along the shoreline, thus earning it the nickname 'Boneyard Beach'. The Black Rock trail leads to Black Rock beach (obviously) where the eroded dunes create bluffs that make the coastline appear rocky and there are sections of black mud that sit almost lava-like over the sand, wallowing out tide pools that are sure to be full of sealife during the warmer months. (Ellison and I couldn't believe how much it looked like Hawaii. No, for real, it was so surprising for a Florida beach.) We all had fun scoping out these pools to see if there were any minnows or crabs, but they were empty, minus a few limpets and barnacles. This area is truly unique and Ellison and I loved every bit of it. Ellison said her favorite part was being able to climb on the driftwood trees and look out into the ocean (although she later revealed that her most favorite part was being able to pet Mandy and Charlie's cat, Chloe).
If you want to get away from the beach, then you can take the Big Pine (less than a mile) or Jones Cut (about 1.5 miles) trails , both of which lead you through maritime hammocks and salt marshes. The Jones Cut trail is notoriously hard to find so be prepared to search around a bit for the trailhead. There is also the shady, paved Timucuan trail (around 4.5 miles) that connects Little and Big Talbot Islands. At the north end, it also links to the George Crady bridge, allowing for access to Amelia Island. Ellison and I really want to go back and walk or bike across the bridge and take the Amelia Island Trail. The trail is currently being extended with help from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and there are all sorts of awesome additions in the works. You can check out a map of the future plans for the Timucuan Trail multi-use pathway here and read more about the Timucuan Trails Park Foundation here. (There are so many great parks!)
Gratuitous beach pictures below mainly because the sky was the clearest blue and so beautiful and because Ellison and I couldn't agree on which ones to include so we included all the ones we liked. And because we wanted you to see just how black the sand really was and how we weren't even lying when we said it looks so much like Hawaii.
- Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park
- Amelia Island State Park
- Big Talbot Island State Park
- Little Talbot Island State Park
- Fort George Island Cultural State Park
- Yellow Bluff Fort Historical State Park
- George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park
I feel like I'm late to the Talbot Islands party. Has everyone been hanging out there forever without me? This whole area is so pretty that I think Ellison and I are going back for more hiking over Spring Break (less than two weeks to go!) and then possibly on down to St. Augustine for a few days. And then I think we'll be going back again and again. And probably even again.