Little Talbot Island State Park
Florida’s Little Talbot Island State Park is located 17 miles northeast of Jacksonville on the Atlantic Coast, less than an hour south of the Georgia border. The park offers both tent and RV camping. Campsites are nestled in mature, moss-draped shade trees. All 36 campsites offer water, electricity, picnic tables and grills. The maximum allowable RV is 30 feet. There are centralized showers and 3 separate bathroom facilities, all of which are ADA accessible. Little Talbot Island State Park also provides an RV dumping station. The park offers a myriad of experiences including bicycling, fishing, swimming, surfing, birding, hiking, kayaking, shelling and guided tours. They also host weddings.
Established as a state park in 1952, the 2,500-acre island remains largely pristine and undeveloped. The parking lots are set back 200 yards from the seashore to protect the dunes. Well-maintained boardwalks wind through wild sea oats and trailing railroad vines with their purple flowers to white sand beaches. The island supports a mature maritime forest of live oak, loblolly pine and sweet magnolia with palmetto, holly, cedar and bay trees thrown in. The island’s western side also boasts an undisturbed salt marsh. All this natural beauty is ringed by over five miles of beaches.
History of the Park
Though the British only maintained a loose control of Florida for a short period (1763-1783), in 1735 the British founder of the colony of Georgia, General James Oglethorpe, named the island in honor of Charles Baron Talbot, Lord High Chancellor of England. Little Talbot Island was perhaps inhabited, but most certainly utilized, by indigenous peoples (called Timucua by Europeans) for an extensive period beginning around or before 4,000 B.C. and ending sometime in the late 1700s. Scholars did not record what these peoples called the island. Because of the shifting nature of barrier islands, Little Talbot Island is now larger than neighboring Big Talbot Island.
Hikers, bikers and bird watchers can enjoy 7 miles of mixed-use trails and one ADA compliant boardwalk. The park’s 4-mile Dune Ridge Trail includes both forest and dune habitats. Though logged in the late 1800s, the maritime forest has the feel of an old-growth woods. You might even encounter a bobcat or marsh rabbit. Visitors in the spring and early summer could very possibly see one of the islands seasonal celebrity birds, the beautiful Painted Bunting, on the Little Talbot Hiking Trail on the northmost point of the island. Many shorebirds, including the federally protected Piping Plover, over-winter in the park. Other migratory birds include Least Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Dowitchers and Dunlins. The ranger station can provide a bird checklist.
Not to be outdone by terrestrial beauty, Little Talbot Island State Park’s waterways are equally stunning. You can launch non-motorized boats into either Simpson or Myrtle Creeks, which run parallel from north to south. Estuarine grasslands border the tranquil salt marshes, with not a condo in sight. Local outfitter, Kayak Amelia, rents kayaks and offers fully guided tours. Fishing is also permitted. You can find striped bass, redfish, flounder, mullet, bluefish, and sheepshead to name the most common catches. River otters also make an occasional appearance. The waters around Little Talbot Island are part of the National Park Service’s Timucuan Historic and Ecological Preserve.
Camping at Little Talbot Island
Theoretically, any of Little Talbot Island’s campsites could accommodate RV camping but the sites vary in size and ease of accessibility. There are several pull-through sites for those uncomfortable with backing into tight spaces. Another strategic consideration is the placement of water and electricity hookups. Some sites have these utilities conveniently located next to each other. While in other sites, they are on the opposite sides of designated RV parking. Rangers are on hand year-round to answer questions about campsites, whether they are about shade, proximity to restrooms and showers, location of hookups, or any other concern.
For more information, visit the Little Talbot Island State Park webpage on floridastateparks.org or call 904.251.2320.