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Ft. Pickens near Pensacola, FL
A nice day trip from Perdido Key


fort-pickins-lawn near Perdido Key

Two Worlds in one Day Trip
Ancient Fort and a Fabulous Beach

NOTE: Still a great place to visit...but you might need a boat !
One of our storms washed out the road, so call or check first before you plan to drive there. 

Located a couple of miles west of Pensacola Beach, Fort Pickens is an excellent excursion. The Fort Pickens area has approximately 10 miles of park land that includes beautiful beaches, nature trails, fishing, a campground, and of course, the fort. There is a fee of $8.00 per vehicle (in 2004), valid for one week, to enter the park, but the price is well worth it. The site is accessible to most any member of the family, but keep in mind that in the fort itself, care should be taken with strollers or wheelchairs. Due to age, the brick floor can be slightly uneven in places, so leaving the sidewalk may be a bumpy ride!

fort-pickins-flag near pensacola

The fort was named after the Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens and was completed and officially ready for troops on October 4, 1834. It is famous for being one of the few forts in the south that was never under Confederate control. In addition, Fort Pickens briefly held Chief Geronimo and several of his warriors and their families (1885-87). During the late 1890's and early 1900's, new gun batteries were constructed at Fort Pickens. In the mid 1900's, World War II brought the last era of coastal fortification in the United States. Most of these additions were finished late in the war, and were only manned for a brief period of time. New technology made coastal forts obsolete.



ft-pickens-arches historic landmarkThe entire fort became a highlight in the national park system in 1970 with the creation of the park known as Gulf Islands National Seashore. Such creatures as armadillos, raccoons, and birds are regularly seen. There are often caution signs on or near areas of roads and beaches in the park for the protection of birds and turtles that nest in the area. The barrier islands provide a crucial stop over spot for migrating birds coming from South America, and the Audubon Society monitors this activity annually. The pass is also a wonderful place to look for dolphins, so be sure to pack binoculars!

Langdon Beach stretches near the west end of the island, about 2 miles from Fort Pickens itself. One of the few that has life guards in season, this beach features modern bathroom facilities, outdoor showers, and nearby picnic areas. Across the road there is another beach on Santa Rosa Sound, with a small picnic shelter and bathrooms but no other facilities. If you want isolation, you can walk as far as you like along the shoreline and pick any spot you like. Since there is an entry fee to enter Fort Pickens, the beach is usually quieter and less crowded that other areas.

The two short hiking trails at Fort Pickens are the Dunes Nature Trail, across the road from Campground Loop A, and the Blackbird Marsh Trail, behind Loop A. The Florida National Seashore Trail also starts at Fort Pickens and proceeds about 28 miles along the Gulf of Mexico to Navarre Beach. There is also a 2.2 mile bike trail. You can bike down the National Scenic Trail, a historic route of the old 1900's railroad that starts at the Langdon beach area and goes all the way past Fort Pickens.

Fort Pickens Fishing Pier, at the western tip of the island, runs out into the Santa Rosa Sound. No fishing license is required on the Fort Pickens Fishing Pier. To use the pier after the park is closed, a night owl permit is required and available for purchase.

Ft. Pickens Campground is located about 7 miles from Pensacola Beach on the western end of Santa Rosa Island. The campground features paved parking pads, picnic tables, grills, water and electric hook-ups and is located around grassy meadows and groves of trees. Only one recreational vehicle, or two tents, with a maximum of six persons, is allowed per campsite Electric sites are $20.00 per night. There is a 50% discount for those presenting a Golden Age/Access Passport. Reservations can be made by calling the National Park Reservation System toll-free at 1-800-365-2267.

Fort Pickens Visitor Center opens daily 9:30am to 5:00 pm. They have many free pamphlets available, including maps and park information. They also sell books about the history of the area and about the local nature and wildlife. There is a daily tour of Fort Pickens at 2:00pm that lasts about 45 minutes. There is no cost for the tour, aside from the park entry fee. There are always special events planned for each month. For the latest events, call the Visitor's Center at (850) 934-2635.

fort pickens short drive from perdido key

fort pickins brick tunnel. historic landmark

fort-pickins on the beach florida

Spooky looking underground like tunnels !

 

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