The series on region parks continued



Ed. note: This is the second in a series of four day trips from Port St. Joe, each covering a visit to a coastal Florida State Park on the eastern Panhandle. You can do all four in one trip with the furthest east being about a two-hour drive. Or, if time permits and you’re of an exploratory, out-doorsy nature, then you might consider one park per trip, or two trips of two each. There’s plenty to do in each park. Whichever combo you choose, we wish you happy and safe travels.

The remote and out-of-the mainstream Econfina State Park is a hidden gem, especially for those who enjoy some time out on the water, be it for fishing, rowing, birding or just plain sightseeing.

If you head east on US 98 (following signs to Perry all the way), in a little more than 100 miles (108 to be somewhat precise) and about two hours, you’ll come to the turn off south to Econfina. That’ll be State Road 14. After about 5 miles or so on SR14 you’ll enter the park. Admission is free!

For reference, check out the accompanying map.

The first thing you’ll see upon entering the park area, is a lovely lake on your right, on the far shore of which is situated a picture-perfect, wooded RV park and campground. This is not part of the park, per se, but it might as well be. We’re told there’s 75 RV sites. It’s certainly an isolated and idyllic spot.

Continuing on, you’ll next pass a general store on the right and a few scattered cabins for rent on the left. At the very end of the short drive within the park you’ll come to a quite large parking area which is part of, and adjacent to, the modern boat launching ramp. Here is where the real attraction of the park begins. Upon launching your craft, be it canoe, kayak or motor vessel, and heading south on the Econfina River, in just two short and scenic miles, meandering through flatwoods, oaks, pines and palms, you’ll come to a broad expanse of salt marsh where the river opens into the Gulf of Mexico. We hear this fishing is fantastic!!

In an interview with Econfina’s head Park Ranger and he was asked: “If you only had an hour or two to spend in the park, what would you do?” His answer: “I would take my kayak and I would launch and go in either direction. Either upstream on the river, where we have high bluffs and rocky outcroppings, or head down river to the Gulf.”

And if you don’t have a boat, again, the trail system within the park is diverse and easy to manage for folks of all ages.

Enjoy Econfina River State Park. We sure did!