Bald Point State Park

Just an hour south of Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, lies more than 4,000 acres of quiet, coastal wilderness at Bald Point State Park near Alligator Point. Swimming, windsurfing, and sunbathing are popular activities on the sandy beach shores or along the Apalachee Bay coastline from Sunrise Beach. Surf or wade out to oyster bars to catch a variety of saltwater fish in the brackish tidal waterway, including redfish, trout, flounder, and mackerel.

The park is positioned where Ochlockonee Bay meets Apalachee Bay, the easternmost point of what’s called the Forgotten Coast. Bald Point features a sandy shoreline, tidal marshes, maritime hammocks, pine and oak trees. The diverse landscape supports a wide range of wildlife including fish, crabs, deer, bear, raccoon, bobcats, coyotes, opossums and bird species from raptors to wrens.

The region was home to Native Americans as long as 3,500 years ago or more, hunting and fishing from settlements long before Spaniards invaded. In the 1800s it became a center of fishing and later turpentine production.

Florida most recently expanded the park in 2002 by purchasing almost 3,000 acres east of the Crooked River from the St. Joe Company, a land developer that has roots as a timber company.

There are some beach houses and small towns in the region near the park, but Bald Point is largely undeveloped. The park ended up largely unscathed from 2018’s Hurricane Michael, which lashed nearby communities, including homes on Alligator Point.

Things to do in Bald Point State Park

If you’re the kind of person who can’t sit still to sunbathe for hours on end, Bald Point offers plenty of options for activities on land or water. It’s a dream day trip for anyone in need of one-on-one time with nature — as long as you bring bug spray.

Beach

The beach here has never been crowded, in my experience. I even spent a Memorial Day weekend there one year and it was still quiet — nothing at all like the party atmosphere down at the other end of Alligator Point.

In the park you can get plenty of room between your beach towel and the next group of people! You’re more likely to see people fishing than a bunch of sunbathers.

There are two Apalachee Bay beach access points for swimming and sunbathing at Bald Point — North End and Sunrise. Both are accessible for wheelchairs and strollers with mobi-mats. A beach wheelchair is available to reserve by calling the park office.

Bald Point has picnic pavilions, restrooms and outdoor showers so you can comfortably spend the day at the beach.

Both beaches are narrow but provide plenty of room to put in an umbrella if you prefer a little shade with your sunbathing. The water’s mostly calm and usually warm, by North Florida standards, anyway.

The current picks up and the water gets more brackish as you get closer to the north end of the park where the bays meet. Depending on the tide level, you may be able to bring a beach chair out to a sandbar for a true moment of zen.

While it may be tempting to bring Fido wherever you go, keep in mind pets are not permitted on the beach. Your four-legged friend is welcome in other areas of the park, as long as it’s well-behaved and on a leash that’s no longer than six feet.

Despite thousands of years of human history in the area, Bald Point is still a sparsely developed nature lover’s paradise. No matter how you plan to spend your day at Bald Point, bring insect repellent. Mosquitoes and other biting bugs are always in season.

Fishing

The fishing pier at the north end of the park is a great spot to drop a line and try your luck at catching flounder, redfish, trout, mackerel or mullet. Surf-fishing or wading out to the oyster beds with your gear are also popular options.

Paddling

There are canoe and kayak launches for park visitors at Chaires Creek and at the north end of the park. If you’re planning to spend time in the Chaires Creek system, be sure to watch the tides so you don’t get stuck on an oyster bed or sandbar.

Hiking

Bald Point features nearly 20 miles of hiking trails. You can go your own way or schedule a tour with a ranger or park volunteer at least two weeks in advance.

Picnics and Parties

Bald Point offers accessible amenities including a boardwalk and observation deck, outdoor showers and picnic pavilions with grills (BYO charcoal). You could invite friends and family for a beachside party, but remember that Bald Point is known as a quiet escape.

Wildlife

You can hit the trails, beach or boardwalk for birding. You’ll have a good chance of seeing migrating hawks in the fall and horseshoe crab spawning in spring brings birds including red knots and marbled godwits. The boardwalk is overlooking the marsh on the North End.

Throughout the year, the park is home to more than 360 species of plants and 230 animal species. Wildflowers bloom along the beach and can be seen from the hiking trails.

Bald Point has a well-deserved reputation as a top spot on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, with fall and winter being best seasons for birders to visit. In addition to catching a glimpse of migrating birds in the fall, you’re likely to see monarch butterflies as they head south for the winter, as mentioned earlier.

Lodging

Lodging options are limited near Bald Point State Park. That lack of development is part of its charm.

CAMPING

If you’re aiming to stay in touch with nature day and night, there’s just one paddle/boat in primitive camping site in the park on Chaires Creek. Call the park office to reserve it.

More camping sites are available about 20 minutes away at Ochlockonee River State Park. The Holiday Campground RV park is just a 10-minute drive away.

HOME RENTAL

Alligator Point features some vacation rental homes if you’re looking for more creature comforts. Single family vacation home rentals at Bald Point (some not far outside the park entrance) and Alligator Point can be found through sites like Airbnb and VRBO. Some feature beach access while others at Bald Point are nestled in the pine forest just a short walk from the beach.

Hotels

The Magnuson Hotel Wildwood Inn and Best Western Wakulla Inn & Suites are about 30 minutes away from the park near Panacea, halfway between Tallahassee and Alligator Point.

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