|Gulf Islands National Seashore - Brackenridge Nature Trail
|Gulf Islands National Seashore is in Florida and Mississippi and both districts are south of Interstate 10. In Mississippi use Exit 57 or 50 to US Highway 90 to Ocean Springs. In Florida use Exit 12 to I-110 or Exit 22 to the Garcon Point Bridge to US Highway 98.
|Total Hike Distance:
|Roundtrip, Loop Hike
|Brackenridge Nature Trail
|Backcountry Water Sources:
|National Park Service
|Gulf Islands National Seashore
1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway
Gulf Breeze, FL 32563
|Winter, Spring, Fall
|Primary Paved Roads, Secondary Paved Roads
|Gulf Islands National Seashore has a long history of settlement, conflict, and abandonment. When Europeans first visited the northern Gulf of Mexico in the early 1500s, they found Native American settlements that were populous and thriving.
In 1559, Spain quickly gained control over the natives and the country established a settlement here on Pensacola Bay. The site was soon abandoned, however, and eventually lost to the French in 1719. The Spanish regained the territory by treaty in 1722, ceded it to the English in 1763, and repossessed it by force in 1781.
By the 1800's, the park had changed hands again and was controled by the U.S. government. It served as a tree farm to grow and harvest timber for the ship industry which was building for a young U.S. Navy. Oak trees were a major source of wood for these vessels and slaves played a major role in the processing of this material.
This hike along the Brackenridge Nature Trail starts at the visitor's center and makes a mile loop through a forest that still hosts some of these massive and tangled oak trees. Many are covered in Spanish moss, and the trail takes you right through some remaining strands near the water. The Santa Rosa Sound can be seen from a platform that looks out to Pensacola Beach and out to the busy condos across the waterway. If you are looking for a break from the beach, this is a great way to spend a few hours.