Category Archives: Ochlocknee River

For paddlers: Tate’s Hell State Forest, camp guide

It is possible, if one is not adverse to going upriver, to do a half circle from the Ochlockonee River to Crooked River to Carrabelle River and end up on one of the campsites on the New River (or the reverse), camping along the way. This will take you through the deciduous lowlands, estuary/swamps and upper pineland areas of the second largest Florida state forest. Except at Womack Creek campground, there are no showers available. At Rock Landing Day Use Area on the Crooked River and Gully Branch Day Use Area vault toilets are available. However, consider this primitive camping all the way and bring your own water. You may be able to filter water at Womack Creek Campground and Gully Branch Campground where water is available, but not potable. We recommend you bring your own water for drinking and cooking.

The best time to be paddling and camping in Tate’s Hell is from mid-October through mid-May. After May some areas will have yellow flies, which, unlike mosquitoes and other flying insects, will follow you on the water and even enter your cockpit. Yellow flies are particularly bad in the summer at Gully Branch Recreation Area and Log Cabin Campground.

Here is a list of the paddling venues in Tate’s Hell State Forest and the campsites which may be accessible to paddlers. For specific camp site information, search by Campsite number of name on this site.

Ochlockonee River

  • Log cabin Campground *: Campsite #23 has the easiest access and is used by paddlers on the Ochlockonee as an overnight or a rest/lunch stop. Campsite 24 has access to the river, but better when the river is high or the tide is incoming. Campsite 25 and 26 have no easy access to the Ochlockonee, use campsite 23 access.
  • Womack Creek Campground/Day Use Area, CS #29-CS #40 *: There is gravel landing used by motorized boats and paddlers. There are tent and 3 RV/tent campsites here with 3 sites with electricity. Womack Creek Campground is the only campground in Tate’s Hell with showers. Campers from other sites, can use the showers by paying $2 day use fee. Water not potable, sulphurous.

Crooked River is affected by tides from Ochlockonee Bay to the east and the Gulf of Mexico via Carrabelle to the west. It goes under the CR 67 bridge and, at high water periods, may require portage across CR 67. There are a few short branches of this river which can be explored.

  • CS 28, Loop road, easy access
  • Rock Landing Campground/Day Use Area, campsite 41-43*:
  • Rock Landing has a concrete boat ramp, vault toilet, covered picnic tables. You will have to carry your boats to the landing. There is a grassy area on either side of the concrete ramp.
  • Crooked River #44, has a gravel landing used also by motorized boats. There is a grassy parking area for trailer parking. CS#45 is accessible to the Crooked River, but there is a drop when the water is low (or the tide is outgoing).
  • Sunday Rollaway, #46, good sandy landing.
  • Oxbow #47 a sloping, sandy hill, but there is sufficient flat sandy area near the water to be able to take-out horizontal to the land.
  • Warren Bluff #48, good sandy landing.

New River: the upper stretch from CS #1 to CS #17 can be a challenging paddle due to treefalls, strainers, smilax and may not be entirely navigable from April through the early winter. Where access is available on the New River campsites, care should be taken when the river is low, there are deep drops and one could loose one’s initial footing with the downriver current and get in over one’s leg stretch.

  • Sumatra, CS 1, generally easy unless the river is low, sharp drop into river
  • New River West, CS 3, accessible, but steep drop when water is low
  • Gully Branch tent only, CS 4, use Gully Branch Day Use area (will have to carry your boat there), concrete-sectioned landing used by motorized boats also. Vault toilet.
  • Dew Drop, CS 5, no easy access to river.
  • Parker Place CS 8, good access, watch sharp drop when water is low or tide is out.
  • Pope Place CS 9, good access
  • New River East, CS 13, yes with caution when water is low
  • New River East, CS 14, yes with caution when water is low
  • New River East, CS 15, yes with caution when water is low
  • New River East, CS 16, yes, use creek to access north of campsite and carry-up boats to camp level (incoming tide will fill up creek; if boat left in creek, should be tied loosely to accommodate rise in water level.)
  • New River East, CS 17, yes. one of the best camping sites for 8 tents if paddling the upper New River since the shuttle from FR 22 will take longer than most shuttles and you may not be able to get into the river till about 2.5 hours after meet-up.

Borrow Pits: CS 6 is on one borrow pit and close to another, CS 7 is on a different borrow pit, both ponds are small and suitable for children and beginners, easy access. There are fish in the borrow pits.

  • Borrow Pit CS 6, very large site, grassy, great for families because of the flat space available for children (and adults) to play games like bocce, croquet, football, soccer, petanque, etc. Road around the borrow pit enables short walks. Good visibility for easier surveillance of children. However, it is off West River Road and may have some traffic on that road.
  • Borrow Pit CS 7, is more isolated and less trafficked, but has similar characteristics as Barrow Pit CS 6.

Cash Creek on the west side of Tate’s Hell SF is off SR 65 and has access to the estuaries which will take one to other creeks and the Apalachicola River. Cash Creek upriver has about 12 miles of paddling options.

  • Cash Creek Campground/Day Use Area: concrete landing with sandy section for kayaks and canoes. Vault toilet, covered picnic table. CS 55, 56, 57 (walk in), are small, open sites suitable for 1 RV/trailer or tent. This is a popular motorized boat landing to launch boats down into the estuaries and the Apalachicola river.
  • Pidcock Road, CS 49, very nice high campsite over Cash Creek, but may be difficult to access boats into water, with possibility when the tide is in. Can accommodate 8 small tents.

Whiskey George Creek is part of the estuarine creeks which empty eventually into the Apalachicola River or East Bay of the Apalachicola River.

  • Dry Bridge, CS 51, has an accessible, grass on mud landing which is slippery when wet.

Doyle Creek is part of the estuarine/swamp creeks which empty eventually into the Apalachicola River or East Bay of the Apalachicola River.

  • Doyle Creek, CS 52, difficult access to water, muddy.

Deep Creek joins Graham Creek downriver which joins East River (to river right) to the Apalachicola River. It is navigable to Graham only when the water is high. When the water is very high, the campsite dry area is severely diminished.

  • Deep Creek CS 53, very secluded, cozy campsite, which when the water is high may have a section of the site under water. Good access to water, upstream and downstream to Graham Creek.

Womack Creek is a 3.75 mile creek (with additional shorter branches) which connects Womack Creek Campground landing to Nick’s Road campsite. For us, it’s a gem of a creek with flowering shrubs and understory plants. We have a separate blog site just on this creek, A Paddler’s Guide to the Flowering Plants of Womack Creek.

  • Nick’s Road CS 27, is a secluded, large campsite with easy paddle access on Womack Creek. Upcreek there are branches to explore (a family of otters live there) and downcreek there are additional branches to explore. There is hardly any upriver current, but tides influence the level of the creek waters. It is 3.75 miles downriver to Womack Creek Campground.
  • Womack Creek Campground/Day Use Area, CS #29-CS#40. This Day Use Area has a covered pavilion with 2 grills for day use users. $2 per person day user fee. Flush toilets, hot showers. No potable water. This is a good place to put-in for a round-trip on Womack Creek of not quite 8 miles. See , Paddler’s Guide to the Blooming Plants of Womack Creek for information on living things on Womack creek.

*The maximum number of adults allowable per site is 8, but many of the sites are suitable for group camping/paddling. These are indicated with an asterisk. If you are organizing a group camp/paddle, consult with Bin Wan, Recreation Coordinator Talquin District, Florida Forestry. He may be able able to help with planning and site selection. When using sites with strictly primitive camping, you may wish to consider rental of a portable toilet or bring several portable toilets with disposable, biodegradable toilet sacks.

A Rainy Paddle on the Ochlockonee 2-25-2018


Ten paddlers from the Apalachee Canoe and Kayak Club left the Woodlake landing on the east side of the Ochlockonee River (Apalachicola National Forest) to have lunch at Log Cabin Campground in Tate’s Hell at Tate’s Hell State Forest, paddle through the Sanborn cut and back up to the Woodlake Landing — a paddle of 12 miles, 4 miles upriver.

It rained soon after lunch and rained and rained and rained.  At the landing, the pumps and bailers were in use, justifying that extra tool in the boats.  But all paddlers were soaked, even quick-dry wicking clothes don’t dry when still raining.

Only one paddler had a skirt:  the others were either weather-deniers, or paddle-come-what-may optimists, but all considered this a worthy challenge to their skills and stamina.

The temperature, fortunately, had warmed up considerably from the previous weeks’ lows.  Wet, but not hypothermic.


In the rain, a field of golden clubs blooming in Tate’s Hell State Forest.


The paddle was led by David Morse, chief forester, Tate’s Hell State Forest.

Paddling to Loop Camp landing, Crooked River, Tate’s Hell – 3-18-2015

The afternoon Florida freshwater turtles presentation at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve was not until 2pm, so we knew we had time for a short paddle from Womack Creek Campground landing on the Ocklockonee River  to Loop Campsite landing on the Crooked River.  We had camped overnight at the Womack Creek Campground and paddled Womack Creek the day before.

At 8;35 AM, we have never paddled the Ocklocknee River when it was so calm.  For three miles on this beautiful blue-sky day, a tinge of coolness, but no wind.  Quiet.  Along the eastern bank of the Ocklockonee, the residents were not outside or were at work. We had the whole river to ourselves.




We passed the rest house at the Womack Creek campground where Mack recently repainted the sign, so passing boaters could see that this was a public campground.

Wild olive or Devilwood were blooming along the way, along with pinxter azaleas and blackberry.




At a bend in the Ocklockonee are pilings, remnants of a railway which carried turpentine across the river.  On river right of the Ocklockonee is McIntyre Landing.   The Crooked River is at this junction and continues west (crookedly) until it joins with the New River into the Carrabelle River.   This river has tidal flow from both ends.

At the mouth of the Crooked River is a little island.  This houseboat has been mired on its banks for at least 4 years.

The photo above shows how calm upriver Ocklockonee was from this junction.


This photo shows the Crooked River at the junction.  The tide was going out, but without wind and with still a crispness in the air, it was an easy paddle to Loop camp site.



We’ve heard more cardinals in Tate’s Hell recently.


A mile from the Ocklockonee, Loop camp site appears.   It is one of our favorite places to camp.   Last year while one of us was preparing dinner, the other, sipping tea, saw a big otter pop its head from the exposed roots in the water of a pine tree and quickly swim away.  When the Ocklockonee floods, this campsite can be covered with water.

P1130444Lots of room for tents, an RV or a trailer and lots of room for kids to play.


And a nice launching area.   When camping here, remember that paddlers who want to use the landing do have a right to do so and also to park their cars along the road.  There is more than enough space in this and other single primitive campsite in Tate’s Hell for several tents.  The rule applies to all Tate’s Hell Campsites:  on the New, on Crooked River, on Ocklockonee River.

On the way out, we received a beautiful farewell.

P1130447Titi are blooming everywhere in Tate’s Hell and beekeepers and bees are busy.


Map of Tate’s Hell State Forest

For rivers, creeks, campsites, roads and other references in the articles in Tate’s Hell State Forest see:

This is a forestry brochure for Tate’s Hell. The map is on screen 3.  Hit “view” on your toolbar then “rotate” to rotate map.  Adjust  % (magnification) on PDF top bar to enlarge or minimize.  (For computer literate:  we are placing these directions for people like us, who grew up on typewriters. Humor us.)

This map does not include a handful of newer campsites, including Pidcock Road camp, which is to the east of Cash Creek Day Use (CC) on the river.


Remember: Tate’s Hell is Florida’s second largest forest with 202,000 acres.  Blackwater River State Forest is the larges, with 220,000 acres.  This is why we wish to save these forests for the enjoyment and solace which wilderness can provide for future Floridians.

Tom Hahn Creek, Crooked River, Tate’s Hell State Forest

March 26, 2014


River view of Rock Landing with 3 campsite: large, medium and small, the smallest being the most private. Day use pavilion. Unisex vault toilet. No water, no sanitizer.









Site 1, the largest campsite (see stand-up grill, fire pit and table in back of lot), but close to public usage area.



Camp site 3, no stand-up grill, and smallest, but most private of 3 campsites.






Looking east on Crooked River where it meets the Ochlockonee about 4 miles. This is a favorite putting in place for motor boats.



Better putting-in place for paddlers west of concrete ramp.


First blue flag iris at Rock Landing, March 26, 2014.

Start at Rock Landing (3.5 miles west of loop campsite) on the Crooked River and paddle west.

Rock Landing is about  4 miles from the Ocklockonee River.  Crooked River has neither up-river nor down-river, tides come in through Ochlockonee River to the east  and from Carrabelle  River (New River) on the west.  It is an alternate trail  of the North Florida Circumnavigational trail.  Some paddlers go up two miles on the Ochlockonee  to Womack Creek Campground for a hot shower.

Tom Hahn Creek is 1 mile west of Rock Landing.   But before that,  .4 mile west of Rock Landing,  is a smaller .4 mile creek where we saw a yellow headed night heron.   There is more variety in plants and shrubs on Tom Hahn Creek, except there may be more open blooming iris and golden club patches on the first short branch.


Golden club, branch .4 miles west of Rock Landing.

About .4 of a mile upriver on  Tom Hahn Creek the creek forks.  The fork to the right is about 1/2 mile long before thickets and low water may deter you.  The one on the left is about 1.1 miles log before you encounter real obstacles (there are overhangs and snags in the river toward the end).


Spider lily near fork Tom Hahn Creek, Crooked River, March 26, 2014.








Right now on the right branch and the shorter other creek,  golden clubs are blooming.   There are more blooming native pinxter azaleas on the branch to the left, swamp jessamine, lots of blooming titi shrubs and blackberry blossoms, but we saw no honey bees.   Fetterbush were blooming in one large bush on the longer branch.


Titi all in bloom in both forks of Tom Hahn Creek.









Native pinxter azaleas in peak of bloom on left fork of Tom Hahn Creek, 3/26/14,


Fetterbush, March 26, 2014, Tom Hahn Creek.

Expect in a few weeks blue flag iris and spider lilies.



Parrotfeather or Brazilian watermilfoil on left branch of Tom Hahn Creek (in 3 places — this is the largest patch).  Non-native invasive plant.  Myriophyllum aquaticum.  








The longer branch is wide at the entrance and narrows about 3/4 miles.  We saw more alligators here than any other creek in the last 2 days — 5 alligators.

On the Crooked River,  you may have tides against you or the wind or both.  Keep to the shoreline and you may escape the full brunt of any wind.

Once leaving Rock Landing there is no easy place for a pit stop.   On the Crooked River, the land to the north is Tate’s Hell State Forest, opposite lands are in private ownership.

Tupelo, cypress, pines, Florida maples are some of the trees you will see on the crooked river.  On the way back to Loop campsite east of Rock Landing, we stopped for 15 minutes to try to photograph a beautifully golden-capped prothotonary warbler in a shrub.   We were unsuccessful.  It seemed undeterred by us, but kept itself under tight cover.


Back on the Crooked River, headed east to Rock Landing.

Tate’s Hell paddle trails


Photo by Branson Carlton

We prefer spending more time on water than shuttling from put-in to take-out in our car.   Tate’s Hell lets one camp in one site and paddle any number of rivers  suitable for a variety of skill levels with or without shuttles.  Shuttle distances are not long.  ( )

Womack Creek, forinstance, provides either a downstream paddle from Nick’s Road campsite (a short about 5 miles by car or bike) to Womack Creek campground — about 4 miles — or a usually easy upstream and back paddle for 8.  Crooked river at Loop camp site is about 2 miles from Womack Creek landing, depending on which road one takes.


Photo by Branson Carlton.

We have paddled almost all of Tate’s Hell rivers and creeks and will be writing reports on each as we revisit them.   Other paddling reports for those planning to paddle the Panhandle and are looking for paddling places is The Green Wave Forum.  For the past year and a half the number of reports have slowed down on that site , but the historic reports will still give you put-in and take-out locations (but not current  paddle conditions).


Womack Creek in February, 2014.

We have written reports about the New  River from FH 22 east of Sumatra to Tate’s Hell New River campsite 7.  From Camp Site 7 downstream, the river is usually open all year round and generally clear of debris because it is also use by jon boats.   Jon boat fishermen are usually very considerate of paddlers.  These are usually local folks who are out to anchor at their favorite fishing spots and will not be traversing the rivers at great speed.   We have gotten good information on good paddling spots from these fishermen.

The New River from camp site 7 downstream is subject to tides and is much wider than the upstream. There are a few on river campsites on both river right and left.    Beyond Gully Branch  (with several sites, vault toilets, and a constant water source which is not potable), Pope’s Place is a good take-out place on the east side of the river.  Downstream of  Gully Branch the river widens and will be more influenced by adverse winds.  Surrounding land is upland mainly pine forests, but there are stands of Atlantic White Cedar and deciduous trees along the river.    During hunting season, this area is hunted.


New River upriver from camp site 7 in late February, 2014.

Whiskey George and Deep Creek have also been reported on.  These are on the west side of Tate’s Hell, closer to Hway 65 and Eastpoint.   We have not yet camped in any of the west-side sites.  We had reserved Pidcock Road campsite in January, but didn’t show because of predicted temperatures in the high teens.   Deep Creek has a campsite right on river, but access to that campsite by river may be difficult when Deep Creek is low.  Like all Tate’s Hell campsites on water, all are reachable by car.  These sites have no water, toilet facilities but have a fire pit and picnic table and possibly a stand-up grill.


Cash Creek is another paddling spot on the west side and just a short drive off hway 65 with a covered picnic area and vault toilets. It is estuarine for about 1 mile upstream  and we do not recommend it during the summer unless you are a heat-lover.  Upstream beyond that the creek narrows and has a mix of hardwood and swamp brush and will provide shade.  There are large alligators on that creek if you want to get a photo of them — they are skittish of humans, as they should be, and will splash into the water first chance they know you are there.  Unless you want to photograph them, we suggest you occasionally tap your boat with your paddle before you go around a turn to warn the sunning alligators around the corner that you are there — a surprised alligator, particularly a large one, can create a big splash and can startle you.  This is good advice to give to fledgling paddlers in your group.


For those who want to do a multi-day paddle, one can paddle from Log Cabin campsite on the northeast corner of Tate’s Hell on the Ocklockonee River to Womack Creek campground for lunch (or rest stop, flush toilets)  to the Crooked River on river right (about 2 miles downstream of Womack Creek landing) to Loop campsite or Rock Landing (about 3.5 miles from Loop Campsite with 3 campsites and vault toilet).  The next overnight might be Campsite 2 or 1 on the opposite side of the Crooked River and the final day go under the Hway 67 bridge (which may require a portage across hway 67 if the river is running very high) to Pope’s Place (upriver New River) or to Trout Creek (landing not too far from confluence with New)  which is about a mile below Pope’s Place.  You can camp at Pope’s Place also.   You can also paddle upstream to Gully Branch (with vault toilet and campsites) to any of the campsites on the New River.  Or, you can take any segment for a shorter overnight paddle.    Unless indicated, all campsites are primitive (no water, no toilet facilities, usually a standing grill, fire pit and picnic table.)

On the east and middle campsites there is quiet from motorized noises, except the occasional boat motor.   This is not a military maneuvering area and commercial airplanes are too high to let their sounds intrude on your nature moments.  There may be a civilian small plane or two, but rarely.   We heard more jet sounds at Voyageur’s National Park in Minnesota than we do in Tate’s Hell.    On the west side of Tate’s Hell, around 10:30am and 2:30pm military jets do maneuvers in the Apalachicola National Forest and the sounds carry over.


There are any number of creeks one can explore from the following campsites:  Womack Creek campground (Womack Creek 8 miles up and back); between Loop campsite and Rock Landing (Brandy Creek, about 1-1.5 miles down and back); west of Rock Landing (two branches, one less than half a mile west — a short, small creek with shrubs and brushes under canopies of larger mixed swamp trees —  and further west about a mile west of Rock Landing, Tom Hahn Creek with 2 branches — the one on the left larger and twice as long –1.1 to .5 miles one way), off hway 67 west (Pine-log creek, depending on tide  1/2 to 1 mile one way, small creek, lots of wildlife and birds and for such a small creek lots of flowering plants.)


Tate’s Hell has only one hiking trail off hway 98 (coastal road), the Coastal trail which runs just east of Eastpoint and west of Carrabelle with two parking areas.    It has beautiful stands of lush native lavender lupine which usually bloom in April.  Watch out for pygmy rattlesnakes on the path  — they like to sun there.  Birds seem to like that trail, also.


There are any number of sand packed roads for bicycling in Tate’s Hell, particularly between Hway 65 and 67.  In this section, some of the roads have been filled with gravel at the low spots to allow for natural water flow and after several days of rain may have as much as a foot or more of water coursing from one side to the other.   Tate’s Hell is being restored to its historic role as watershed of the Apalachicola River, that is, unless other uses which impact the land adversely are allowed.


Campsite 1, Rock Landing Campground. Largest of 3, but close to general public usage. Standup grill, fire pit, picnic table (see at back of lot). Vault toilet within short walking distance.

A week’s family or friends’  nature-based outing?  You betcha!



A cool, breezy paddle on Womack Creek, March 13, 2014


Looking upriver. Ocklockonee River on right, Womack Creek on left. 3/13/2014.

The eastern US is under another freezing front.  Here, it was in the low 50’s, the wind was blowing around 10mph, creating a few whitecaps on the Ochlockonee, but the sky was a cloudless blue.  What else to do but go paddling.

Properly attired with layers under our PFDs, we paddled up the creek.  The first unusual sight were blobs of white on trees in Womack Creek at the confluence.   Getting closer we saw 8 large great egrets, sheltered on the lee side of the wind.


These were the birds which were hunted to near extinction in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  Their plumage was much sought after for hats and other personal adornment.  A conservation movement to stop the killing of birds for their feathers was started in reaction, the National Audubon Society was formed.   Their symbol remains to this day the great egret (also called great white egret, American egret.)

When the wind ruffled their feathers, these birds in early breeding plummage — it was easy to see why their feathers were coveted.   We had never seen a colony of these birds on Womack Creek; it made our day.



We were hoping to see more pinxter azaleas in bloom, and there are one or two more bushes in bloom.  This year, however, will not rival 2011.  The big rains and high waters of the last two years have taken the large stands of pinxter azaleas which were on the riverbanks.   There were so many then, that the fragrance of the flowers was perceptible in the air.


Pinxter azalea, Womack Creek, March 13, 2014.

Walter’s viburnum, however, are now fully blooming throughout the creek — large stands both creekside and in the interior.


Demure yellow buttercups are still blooming on the forest floor.

The creek side trees are greening.  Sweet gum and hornbeam, their young leaves a delicate shade of green, a contrast with the forever dark leaves of the bays.


Hornbeam in early spring leaf, Womack Creek, March 13, 2014.

The turtles will catch any sunshine they can, regardless of ambient temperature.  This little one, not more than 4 inches long, reminded us of the Little Engine Who Could.


And, skulking (as that juvenile probably thought he was doing) the egrets was this little alligator, not quite 4 feet long, but totally unafraid of paddlers nearby.


Also taking advantage of the exposed shore was a little green heron, probably the same one we saw last week on Womack Creek.   Although not quick to flight as some birds, it was camouflaged so well in the greenery that it was hard to get a good shot of this bird.  An osprey was also flying near the confluence of the Ocklockonee.   And a robin and the sounds of any number of unidentified birds in the bush.

The river was so low we were able to see barnacles on the trunks which are normally under water.


On the way out, on Rock Landing road we stopped to take a photo of a blooming thistle and found several ti-ti bushes in bloom and willows with catkins.  Ti-ti is blooming all over Tate’s Hell as are Carolina jessamine.   Spring is here.





Primitive Camping in Tate’s Hell State Forest

The Tate’s Hell sites on Reserve America are a mish-mash and entered in several locations.  We have created what we hope is a helpful guide to find that campsite.  See posting of “How to Find Tate’s Hell SF Campsites on Reserve America”, posted on 12 February 2019.  Search by “How to find”.  Because Reserve America does not provide sufficient information to allow for good choices, we have also on this blog site, started to photograph and describe each campsite.  You should be able to access these posts by searching by “camping” or Tate’s Hell State Forest camping” or by the specific name of the campsite.  The individual campsite information also gives you the 911 addresses for each campsite. 


Pidcock Road site on Cash creek, a good fishing creek.

In Tate’s Hell there are three types of primitive camping sites:

Womack Creek Campground with bathrooms and showers

  • 9 sites for tents only (sand/dirt floor), 3 for RV’s, trailers and tents (gravel floor) with electricity.
  • Water not potable at bath house: smells of sulphur but smell can be removed by letting the water stand overnight in a partially open container.  It may still have a mineral taste.  Bring water filter or drinking and cooking water with you.
  • Bath house with hot showers in each bathroom, flush toilets.
  • Large covered pavilion (day users must be accommodated) and large porch overlooking the Ochlockonee River in bath house.
  • $10 per night per site for tent only sites; $15 for RV site plus reserve america fee.
  • Mack  Suggs has retired as host.  His service was exemplary.  The new hosts, a couple, keep the restrooms clean.  They have a large dog unleashed, friendly but which jumps on people.  If you have a small child or, if you have someone in your party who is unstable on their feet, please let the host know.  Also, look out for dog poop, and ask the host to up after their dog while you are there.   Please be aware that these are volunteers and they voluneer 20 hours weekly cleaning campsites and at Womack Creek campground, maintaining the cleanliness and supplies at that restroom facility.   Do not increase their weekly workload by making unnecessary demands and not cleaning up after yourselves.  Tate’s Hell SF asks you to pack it in and pack it out and leave no trace.  There may be trash receptables at campgrounds, but not campsites.  
  • No hunting zone and open for camping all year round
  • Because the banks along the Ochlockonee River are rapidly eroding, the restroom at this campground may be closed in the future.
  • Access to some campsites in wet periods may be difficult for passenger cars.  Roads in Tate’s Hell State Forest are sandy, with low areas filled with gravel with a depth marker for the deeper water pass throughs.
  • This is a forest which was acquired for restoration of the watershed for the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee River and is the primary reason for its acquisition by the state of Florida.  It is, by law, required to harvest timber in order to financially maintain itself.


Sunset as seen from Womack Creek Campground rest house veranda, 2012. Photo by Branson Carlton.





Womack Creek campground may be available for a whole group. Call Tate’s Hell SF office in Carrabelle. This was taken of a weekend event of the “Good ole’ boys”, retired and active Florida peace officers, March 2-4, 2018.

Campgrounds with vault toilets and covered picnic tables

  • Cash Creek (3, with 2 reservable), OHV and Rock Landing (3, with 2 reservable)
  • Gully Branch Tent only site at Gully Branch Day Use area

Campground with no vault toilet

  •  Log cabin campsites (4 sites)

Single primitive camp sites

  • Each site  usually contains a standing grill, a fire pit with grill, a picnic table.
  • The individual sites are usually much larger than the sites in the multi-site campgrounds and most will accomodate RV’s and trailers (see post for each campsite).
  • Certain sites are not available during hunting season which dates change from year to year, consult current hunting season dates.
  • Camping here is whatever nature offers, with few amenities (except Womack Creek Campground).  Biting flies and mosquitoes can be expected from May through October.  Non spraying of area protects the natural ecology — insects are essential to fish, reptiles, amphibians and other creatures in the forest.  It therefore offers a better wilderness experience.
  • These sites are reservable on Reserve America.  Each site is $10 per night plus reserve america fee.   Your permit should be posted at the entrance post identifying your campsite.


Rock Landing campground – 3 camp sites, vault toilet. This shows how high the flood waters of July 2012 reached — the day use picnic area — see end of fence line marking normal river’s edge. The 3 campsites were neverthless dry.  Photo by Branson Carleton.


Loop Landing campsite on Crooked River. For those who like a quiet spot to re-create, this is one of the best sites. Large site. A pair of river otters used to have a burrow on the river bank. If they’re still there and if you’re quiet, they’ll appear around dusk. Closest Crooked River campsite to Ochlockonee River to east.  Photo by Branson Carleton.


Landing at Log Cabin Primitive Camp site on the Ochlockonee River, 2012.


New River campsite 17. Group of 14 paddlers camped overnight on March 2017 while doing 21 miles of New River. Put-in off FR 22, 10 miles east of Sumatra to Pope’s Place Campsite on New River. Portable toilet rental highly recommended (may now be required) for groups this size — root structures in forests are hard to penetrate if digging potty holes. New River about 1 mile upriver from this site may not be navigable at certain times of the year — you may be hiking more than paddling. Paddling the upper river can be a challenge, depending on season and level of water (higher water, greater current around bends with possible strainers. tree-falls, scoot-overs, portages, limbo logs, no road access between Campsite 1 on New River and Campsite 17.)  Photo by David Brashears.



  • All of Tate’s Hell Forestry facilities are “Pack it in, pack it out”.
  • Plan your food menus, personal use, accordingly and bring sufficient amount of bags/receptables to take everything out.
  • Do not use or plan to use firepits to burn your non-burnable trash.  (Metals do not burn, garbage does not burn, plastic will leave residue or may not completely burn.)  Leave the firepit clean after you leave. There are bears in Tate’s Hell State Forest, food thrash left in fire pits will tend to attract bears to the pits.  A wild bear will avoid you, a food habituated bear may not.
  • Dish washing should be minimized. (Use biodegradable detergent, throw waste water 200 feet away from rivers and away from sleeping areas.  Do not clean dishes and cooking utensils in river.  Do not leave residues from washing near sleeping area.)
  • Use a sanitizer instead of water to “wash” your hands.


  • Tate’s Hell is fortunate to have lots of wild animals, including black bears, which may be attracted to food or garbage.
  • Store ALL food and garbage in car or in hanging caches at least 10 feet high if no one will be at campsite during the day or at night.
  • Even latched coolers may not be as animal-proof as you think. Kayak hatches used as food storage have been known to be destroyed by bears.
  • Do not keep any food or any fragrant items in tents.
  • Let any food residue on the grill burn off, if possible.
  • Do not throw any vegetable wastes in the woods (yes, they are biodegradable, but think about the next camper,  and certain items such as peels take a long time to degrade, and they attract animals near the campsite.)
  • If you are planning to camp for more than a few days, consider going to Carrabelle or Eastpoint to deposit your garbage.


  • Dig your personal waste holes 200 feet away from the water, 6-8 inches deep.  A trowel will not penetrate that deep because of tree roots; bring a collapsible (military issue) shovel or other shovel.
  • If you prefer, bring your own camp toilet.  Biodegradable and treated bags allow you to deposit your toilet waste in regular garbage cans.
  • Use biodegradable toilet tissue, or, if unavailable, bring plastic zip bags to deposit your used toilet tissues and pack it out to dispose of properly.


  • The rule of thumb for water while camp-paddling or backpacking is 1 gallon per person a day.  Bring your own drinking and cooking water.
  • If engaged in rigorous activity in hot weather, add electrolyte tabs (preferable, sugarless option available) or Gatorade or similar sports drink (which has a lot of extra sugar).  Drink before one gets thirsty to prevent dehydration (this is particularly advisable during cool days when one may not think to drink as much water as one’s body needs.)
  • It it rains, consider it a gift.  Catch any rain from canopies or tarps and use for washing or, if short of drinking water, filter it and/or boil for 5 minutes before using it for drink or cooking.
  • Water from the rivers or pond, even if filtered, may not be safe to drink.


  • If  river water is clean enough to swim, this may be sufficient to make you feel clean.  Soaps should not be used in any of the rivers or pond.
  • Specially treated wash clothes may be adequate, unless the day is humid and sticky.
  • You can bring your own camp shower, or give yourself a hospital bath.  Any wash water should be strewn 200 feet away from the rivers or pond.
  • If you really need to bath, the showers at the Womack Creek Campground are available for $2 per person (day use fee), pay at the iron ranger.


  • LED camp lights, some solar powered, some with crank operation, are good to have in food preparation and clean-up areas.
  • Each camper should have a head lamp or tiny flashlight (headlamps are preferable because it’s not as easy to lose in the dark; let them dangle around your neck when ot in use.)
  • If you have night waker-uppers, illuminate the area around the tent chords.  We use LED tea-candles which casts a sufficient glow to ID the chords, but not that much to disturb our sleep.  Reflective tent chords are available through most camping supply sources.


  • You should not bring your own wood. The IGA in Carrabelle or service stations may have fire wood.
  • You may be able to scavenge fallen wood, bring a small saw.
  • Douse your fires completely when you leave the area for the day or after breaking camp.  Sudden gusts of wind can easily take live embers into pine straw around the camp site.


  • Tent mesh should be small enough to keep out no-see-ums which are prevalent in most all wilderness and beach areas in Florida.  We have been more than satisfied with our REI half-dome plus which has seen over 5 years of heavy use through gully washers, heavy winds (used all tent loops to anchor the tent), heavy frost and north Florida no-see-ums.  We also have a kingdom four and a quarter dome which allow more space for sitting and higher headspace.
  • If car camping, tent size can be determined by what your car can carry and what you need.  If kayak-camping consider back packing standards — 40 pounds of gear may be all your hatches can carry, particularly if you’re carrying 8 pounds of water (1 gallon) per person per day.
  • A properly fitted footprint (under the tent) will keep your tent dry in a deluge and will not require you to ditch around your tent.  One which is larger than your tent will catch the rain and only compound the dampness.  One well known published outdoors expert suggests also placing a footprint inside the tent as an extra precaution.
  • Florida is wetter than many state; consider the rain fly extensions if you do not have a waterproof canopy in the event of rain.
  • Forty degree sleeping bags is sufficient for Florida, however this means it is comfortable when temperatures fall no less than 50 degrees.  In the winter, north Florida night temperatures can fall to below 40 degrees.  Rather than purchase a 20 degree sleeping bag (twice as heavy and not as usable during most of the year), get merino wool under clothes (top and bottom)  which will also help with keeping you warm during the colder days and can be a foundation sleeping outfit.  A compact thermal ground cloth (some with reflective coating which presumably reflects heat back, some with flannel on one side) may also be a good layer over the sleeping bag.  Down filling, while considerably lighter for the warmth, is not recommended for kayakers — if  wet it takes longer to dry than synthetic materials.
  • An insulated air mattress will protect you from cold ground in winter months and tree roots which are more common than gravel or rocks in Tate’s Hell.  You have more mattress choices if you are car camping.  Do not scrimp on a comfortable mattress.  This, above all of your equipment, will make a difference in your camping enjoyment.  Try it out before purchasing — put rock-like or root-like items under the inflated mattresses while trying it out.
  • For car camping,  a regular fold up canopy to place over the picnic table and cooking area is standard equipment — it protects non-food items from rain and saves us from having to put everything into the car when we are paddling all day and rain is forecast.   We have side flaps so one of our canopies is totally enclosable from driving rains.
  • For kayak/canoe camping where space & weight is a consideration, lightweight nylon tarp, around 1 pound and which folds very tightly is good to have.  For kayak paddling/camping we use a 10 x 10 feet tarp with a collapsible middle pole — total weight a little over 2 pounds and with loops sewn all around the edges, allows for any number of shelter configurations.  Available from Piragis (Boundary Waters) Catalog (at the end of the season, rental tarps which are still in excellent shape are sold at discount.)  This has protected us and gear from being soaked while kayak camping, our tent being a small 2 person backpacker’s tent with storage rain fly.


  • There are biting flies, mosquitoes, no-see-ums in Tate’s Hell.  Along the New River, as soon as the weather warms, mosquitoes are prevalent.  Bring appropriate repellents.
  • We have found that smoke from a pit fire will discourage mosquitoes at dusk and early morning in the cooler months of the year.


  • Boaters can put-in and take-out at your camp site.  Hopefully, you can arrange a reasonable accommodation for their parking spaces.  Individual sites are large enough to accommodate additional cars and the multi-site campgrounds have other parking areas.


  • If you have an emergency and require an emergency vehicle to go to your site, the address of the site is given on the back of your copy of the permit.  Emergency vehicles will not know how to get to your site without a specific address.   If you cannot find your permit, it is also on the back of the permit you posted at the campsite entrance.


  • Make sure all fires are completely doused.
  • Walk the campsite and make sure you have not left a single trace (candy wrappers, torn off tops of drinks,  tissue, tent stakes) of your presence.
  • If you find the campsite looking better than when you arrived and with no sign that you’ve been there, you’ll feel better that you’ve left it in a good condition for the next camper.


  • Think minimalist and leave no trace.
  • You can provide yourself a well balanced meal without heavy packaging and with few cooking utensils. (Packaged meals have lots of salt, justified because it’s made for backpackers.  Some brands are coming up less salt.)
  • Since you will not have electricity, plan accordingly.  A cooked at home frozen meal can be used for the first meal, but depending on temperature, probably not recommended for the second day.  Ice is available in Carrabelle (hway 67)  or Eastpoint (hway 65), if needed.
  • A single dish providing all your nutritional needs is preferable to several courses (and cooking utensils).
  • Select foods which can be eaten without leaving any bones or inedible residues.
  • Minimize items which must be washed.  Wash ahead of time and pack in clean (burnable or easily packed out) sacks or containers.
  • Prepackage any condiments you feel absolutely necessary and bring only as much as you need.
  • Do not bring any more food than can be eaten; waste translates into excess garbage which must be packed out.
  • The process and preparation will get easier the more you primitive camp.
  • Bring large plastic bags to dispose of your food and other wastes and carry them out with you.  Don’t do as some campers did in April 2018.  The camp host at Womack (a volunteer post) has all the campsites to clean and having to pick up trash littered around and in the fire-pit does does not make his/her job any easier.


We recently paddle/camped for 6 days in Central Florida on the Withlacoochee River and were dismayed by the encroachment of large homes with manicured and landscaped lawns on the waterways, large docks jutting out into the waterways  and motorized sounds throughout our trip.   Tate’s Hell State Forest still provides wilderness experiences free from houses, barking dogs and noises, including the sounds of air traffic.*

The residents of Franklin County in 1994 were asked whether they would accept the idea of the state purchasing over 50% of the county’s land to be used to restore the watershed for East Bay, the nursery of Apalachicola Bay.  They approved this purchase, which effectively meant that 50% of the total lands in the county were not going to be taxed.   This acquisition is Tate’s Hell, 210,000 acres of wilderness, with streams and creeks throughout the forest for everyone’s enjoyment.

This acquisition is part of the Florida Forever lands which the voters of Florida have supported as a way of restoring, conserving and maintaining our natural areas.  The forest is an essential watershed for both the Apalachicola and the Ochlockonee rivers. Some of the old lumber roads in the forest are being restored back to natural drainage and concrete culverts have been replaced with gravel in lower areas to allow for more natural drainage.  Some roads will have high water (markers indicate how high) and before you have to detour and complain, consider that this is one way we can keep our wild Florida lands and allow all of us to enjoy the remaining parcels of old Florida.

Because this land is not taxed, you can show your appreciation to the citizens of Franklin county by eating out at least once in Carrabelle, Eastpoint, or Apalachicola — seafood their specialty — and/or buying your camping supplies, grocery and gas from the stores in these towns.

* Lately we experienced while on one of the creeks on the west side of Tate’s Hell, jet planes in battle simulations over the Apalachicola National Forest.  The sounds intruded into that section of Tate’s Hell.


Hauling up the boats for the night, camp site 6 (now CS 16), New River, March 2011. Camp site 16 has a little creek which is affected by tidal flow — do not leave boats on the creek when the tide it out, haul it to the camp area. This camp site has better located trees for hammock tenters.

Tate's Hell

Womack Creek at Nick’s Road Primitive Camp Site. This is on Womack Creek, 3.75 miles from Womack Creek Campground landing,  by road about 7 miles. It is a large site.   Currently there is a resident hawk in these forests. When entering the road, go slowly over the gravelly areas — there are some bigger than gravel rocks which can be thrown against the underside of your car if you go too fast.    This is one of the most secluded of Tate’s Hell’s campsites.  Can accommodate several large tents.                            Photo by Tina Murphy.