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There are two distinct sections to the Ochlockonee Bay Trail. (1) From Sopchoppy FL, the trail is mostly alongside Surf Road running southeast through a forested section of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge to US Hwy 98 (about 10 miles). Then across US 98, (2) it becomes Mashes Sands Road, a short distance on-road before bridge onto Mash Island, where roadside again to boat ramp, then ending at Mashes Sands Beach (about 2.5 miles). On-road for short distance between boat ramp and beach, but very little if any traffic at this point. (Map link and photos below.)
Map... Ochlockonee Bay Trail
Location: Panacea (Wakulla County)
End Points: Sopchoppy to Mashes Sands Beach
Mileage: 12.5 miles
Nearby points of interest: Bald Point State Park, Ochlockonee River State Park
Starting in "downtown" Sopchoppy near the Dollar General store, the Ochlockonee Bay Trail runs roadside a few hundred feet east to Surf Road. Turning southeast on Surf Road, it soon enters a section of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Although closer to the roadway than we prefer, the traffic here is very light and the ride is mostly quiet and scenic, including some boardwalk. At about 7 miles, the trail turns more eastward, parallel to Ochlockonee Bay, but with only an occasional glimpse of the water. Reaching the intersection of US 98, a trailhead was under construction when we visited.
Crossing US 98, the trail goes on-road a short distance to the Tide Creek bridge, becoming a roadside trail again over the bridge on Mash Island. The trail along Mash Sands Road is scenic with marsh views on one side and glimpses of the Bay on the other, a negative is that it's right along the roadway with little or no buffer. The trail then enters Mashes Sands Park and runs to the boat ramp, where there's a large sandy lot with paid parking. Empty when we visited, but surely busy on weekends. Past the boat ramp, the trail goes on-road a short distance to the trailhead. Going past the trailhead, check out Mashes Sands Beach - a hidden gem we really enjoyed on this beautiful day.
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