Talbot Island State Parks

photo: Will Dickey

Many park enthusiasts consider the Talbot Island State Parks as the premier park experience in Northeast Florida-rare undeveloped barrier islands on the edge of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Our land’s ancestors-Native American, French, Spanish, British-all knew this area well.

The Talbot Islands are surrounded by natural beauty and exciting wildlife – marsh birds swarm over the wetlands, redfish tails break the Intracoastal Waterway and creek waters, crabs skitter over the pristine beach, ospreys soar across the landscape with watchful eyes. Explore the diverse island habitats by hiking Blackrock Trail to the shoreline, Big Pine Trail to the marsh or Old Kings Highway and Jones Cut through the maritime forest.

Approximately 17 miles northeast of downtown Jacksonville, the parks are located on A1A inside Jacksonville’s city limits and continue right up to the border of Nassau County, marked by the fabulous George Crady fishing bridge.

History: Archaeologists and historians tell us Native Americans lived here as early as 4000 BC, and in the hundreds of years prior to arrival by Europeans in the 1560s, research reveals the Native Americans led an active, sophisticated-trade life in this area. The French arrived in 1562 at nearby Fort Caroline and the Spanish soon followed. Native Americans and Spanish Franciscan friars developed relationships in this area. English loyalists escaped American fervor during the revolution, staying on the islands. In 1735, James Ogelthorpe named the islands after Charles Baron Talbot, the Lord High Chancellor of England.

Activities: Photography opportunities abound-wildlife is everywhere, there is great fishing at both the parks, even a boat ramp at Big Talbot Island, and local surfers love the north end of Little Talbot which contains five miles of pristine beach unadorned by houses or structures. There is a short nature walking loop and a wonderful four-mile trail on Little Talbot. If you want to camp on Little Talbot, call the ranger station well ahead of time-it is one of our most popular camping areas.

Notable: At least one peak visual experience awaits you at the Talbot Islands. Park in the Big Talbot lot on the east side of A1A just before getting to the bridge going into Nassau County. Walk out to the bluffs in the observation area: gaze out over the almost indescribable beauty of Nassau Sound, eyeing Bird Island to the south, connecting with the Atlantic Ocean. Below the bluffs on the beach are old bleached-out driftwood trees which accumulate due to natural erosion-fondly called “bone yard beach” by the locals.

The Talbot Islands are managed by the Florida Park Service.

LTI duneLittle Talbot Island State Park

12157 Heckscher Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Hours: 8:00 a.m. until sundown, all year round

Fees: $5.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.

$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle.

$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

Camping Fee:

$24.00 per night, plus tax. Includes water and electricity. Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older or who hold a social security disability award certificate or a 100 percent disability award certificate from the Federal Government are permitted to receive a 50 percent discount on current base campsite fees.

For more information, visit:

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Little-Talbot-Island

http://timucuantrailparksfoundation.org/Parks/little-talbot-island-state-park.html

BTI_forestBig Talbot Island State Park

State Road A1A North, Jacksonville, Florida 32226

Hours: 8:00 a.m. until sundown, all year round

Fees: Please use the honor box to pay fees. Correct change is required. Limit 8 people per vehicle.

$2.00 per person to access the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier.

$3.00 per vehicle entrance fee to access the Bluffs picnic area.

$4.00 to use the boat launch.

Located on one of Northeast Florida’s unique sea islands, Big Talbot Island State Park is primarily a natural preserve providing a premier location for nature study, bird-watching, and photography. Launch a boat from the north end of the island to fish and tour the salt marsh or rent a kayak and take a guided paddle tour with Kayak Amelia, (888) 30-KAYAK (305-2925). Kayak tours require advanced reservation.

For more information, visit:

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Big-Talbot-Island

http://timucuantrailparksfoundation.org/Parks/big-talbot-island.html

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