Pine Log State Forest
Along an old firebreak at Pine Log State Forest
Pine Log State Forest is a 7,003-acre property that straddles the line between Bay and Washington Counties. Acquired in 1936, Pine Log State Forest was Florida's first state forest. Pine Log State Forest is located along State Road 79 about 14 miles north of Panama City and just south of Ebro. The forest is crossed by several paved and forest roads, nearly all of them open to vehicular travel.
The forest is mostly composed of the sandhill, titi swamp, cypress pond and pine flatwoods natural communities. There are three named streams (Ditch Branch, Pine Log Creek and Little Crooked Creek) plus several small lakes and ponds on the property. The forest on Pine Log is quite healthy and timber sales over the last twenty years have netted the state more than $1 million.
As the original Florida State Forest, Pine Log has been well developed with twenty campsites (complete with electric and water hookups) at the Pine Log State Forest Recreation Area. The campground also offers central restrooms and shower facilities and a central RV dump station. Campsites are available first come, first served only. There is also a youth camping group site available (also first come, first served). Fees are due at the self-service pay station near the campground entrance after you have chosen your site. The campground also offers three primitive campsites (max of five people each). Adjacent to the campground is the picnic area and picnic pavilion (reservable for group events). Swimming is allowed in East Lake, adjacent to the recreation area but no lifeguards are present and keep your eyes out for the occasional alligator.
There are more than 13 miles of hiking-only trails on Pine Log State Forest, including an eight-mile segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail that crosses the north side of the forest east/west. For mountain bikes there are more than 13 miles of multi-use trail available, most of it being the Crooked Creek Trail on the east side of SR 79. The parking area is about one mile south of the Pine Log State Forest Recreation Area entrance on the south side of Little Crooked Creek. Because there are extremely soft soil conditions on a lot of Pine Log State Forest, horses are limited to existing open roads, closed roads and existing firebreaks. All the various routes/trails are well-signed, especially in regard to their particular uses.
Pine Log Wildlife Management Area covers almost 7,000 acres of Pine Log State Forest, all of it outside the designated Pine Log State Forest Recreation Area. Recreational visitors who aren't out for the hunt might want to check the hunting season schedule before visiting.
One of the ponds at Pine Log State Forest
Pine Log State Forest map
Map courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission