The Little Big Econ State Forest may have a funny name, but it offers miles of beautiful hiking trails, including sections of the Florida National Scenic Trail (#FNST) and the Flagler Trail. There are trails for equestrians and cyclists, too. And since the Econlockhatchee River is the key feature of this forest, paddling is also popular.
From the Barr St. Trailhead* I followed the Florida Trail along the river, which is a designated Outstanding Florida Water, until I reached the Flagler Trail. The river bank drops off sharply along most of the path — it was maybe 10 – 12 feet down to the water in most places. There are, however, a number of places to easily get down to a sandy shoreline. A few prominent peninsulas provide beautiful little areas to explore along the way.
At the junction with the Flagler Trail (named after Henry Morrison Flagler) there is a bridge crossing the Econlockhatchee for those travelling south. Here the Flagler trail is multi-use, accommodating hikers, bikers and equestrians alike. There are remnants of a railroad trestle from Mr. Flagler’s heydays. This intersection is a popular spot and can be a beehive of activity.
Since I planned a loop hike, I turned north and crossed over a second, smaller bridge along the multi-use Flagler Trail. At the next junction I branched off onto a return section of the Florida Trail (FNST), forming the return loop. If you kept going north on the Flagler Trail, you could hook up with Geneva Wilderness Area and beyond. For that matter, you could follow the Florida National Scenic Trail for hundreds of miles in either direction.
The return loop runs through a variety of forest habitats, frequently changing. One minute there are pine needles underfoot and the next minute you’re hiking through grassy areas surrounded by palm trees, then great oaks adorned with Spanish moss and resurrection ferns take over. I really enjoyed the variety.
This was a very nice day hike, but you could spend a lot more time out here, including primitive camping by permit. This 9,500+ acre forest is also a designated Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail (#GFBWT) site. Alligators, bobcats, deer, eagles, egrets, foxes, otters, storks, turkeys, turtles and more can be found throughout the area.
Know Before You Go! Please check out the Photo Gallery and the WonderMap (below) — I think you’ll want to put this beautiful slice of Florida’s Natural Wonders on your Bucket List.
Below is the Little Big Econ State Forest Loop Hike WonderMap. Tip >> Click on the GPS waypoint flags for pictures taken at those locations.
Florida Forest Service
Little Big Econ State Forest
1350 Snow Hill Rd.
Geneva, FL 32732-9054
*Barr St. Trailhead, 840 Barr St, Geneva, FL 32732
Here is a photo of the Snow Hill Bike Trails from the Florida Forest Service: