Permanent Vanlife is still about one year away, so I decided to get a feel for it, by planning multiple one-week trips in the van, throughout the US Southeast.
Part of a 7-day trip to the Florida Panhandle in my Ford Transit Van Build. Day 2
Besides enjoyment, the goal of these multi-day journeys is also to get a sense of Vanlife and to add or change part of the setup in the van, if necessary.
Only a short drive from my overnight campsite, I arrive around 7AM to meet an empty parking lot. This is not a heavy frequented park with little more to do than watch the falls.
Immediately above the falls you’ll find the remains of Old Bellamy Road, the first major U.S. federal highway in early territorial Florida; migrants used this route into Florida, as early as the 1800’s. If you look closely, you can see where it continues, on the other side of the river.
Hagens Cove Park
A fairly remote park on the Gulf coast of Florida, offers great views of the Gulf and with low tide, extensive mud flats.
Hampton Sulphur Springs Resort
The site has been unattended for many years and vandalism occurred. If some minimal maintenance is not done, this lovely part of history may soon be gone. It is a small park, with the ruins and a walking bridge over the river and a short trail. The pool is clearly visible and the accompanying foul smell will undoubtedly stay with you for the rest of the day.
St. Marks NWR & Lighthouse
St. Marks NWR is a great place to hike and see birds. I arrived here on an early winter morning with a nice breeze and decided to concentrate on the lighthouse area. With only a few other visitors around me, it was still possible to find quiet places to walk or sit, without being disturbed and let the wind blow around me while watching a flock of American Coots.
Cathedral Palms Trail
I follow the blue blazes on the trees. It is a wide track and likely a former road through a fairly open forest.
My blue blazes change into orange and I am close to following the Florida trail.
After 2.5 miles a narrow, shabby boardwalk leads me to beautiful spring. The clear water and the flat surface can be enjoyed from a small bench, where I can relax for a few minutes and give some water to Joey.
Butcher Pen Landing campsite
I don’t like arriving at my campsite in the dark, but a long day and few daylight hours caught me at the highway turnoff when the night fell. And only five more, uncertain miles to go on a one-track, unpaved, rough road.
- Steinhatchee Falls ➜ 29.746170, -83.342604
- Hagens Cove Park ➜ 29.772461, -83.579447
- Hampton Sulphur Springs Resort ➜ 30.081828, -83.660314
- St.Marks NWR Lighthouse ➜ 30.073740, -84.179615
- Cathedral Palms TH ➜ 30.121119, -84.315110
- Butcher Pen Landing campsite ➜ 29.803387, -84.967016
CATHEDRAL PALMS TRAIL
5.25 mi – Out & Back
I returned when I got to a beautiful natural spring, but if you continue another 0.2 mi, you’ll reach a cathedral-like forest of sable palms.