In Milton, just northeast of Pensacola, the 10-mile Blackwater Heritage Trail is the rewarding result of a partnership between Florida's Departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Navy. Its northernmost 1.5 miles is officially dubbed the Military Heritage Trail.
Five convenient trailheads provide access, while a smooth asphalt surface promises an enjoyable ride through flat rural and urban areas. The Milton trailhead offers parking and restroom facilities, nearby restaurants and even a bicycle shop for last-minute gear and supplies.
The trail follows the route of the old Florida & Alabama Railroad, operated by the Bagdad Lumber Company and used to ship milled lumber from Bagdad to Whitley, Alabama. The railroad stopped running in 1939, but when America entered WWII, the rails were rebuilt and used to ship aviation fuel to Whiting Field Naval Air Station.
A mile up the trail, local citizens staff a visitor center and provide information about this and other area parks and attractions. As the route streaks north, the surroundings become increasingly rural. Telltale signs that you're leaving Milton behind include trailside pitcher plants and rabbit sightings.
By the time you reach the Munson Highway parking area, just under 3 miles along the trail, the rural setting dominates. Munson provides the only horse trailer parking, so expect to spot more equestrians on the adjacent trail and at the seven nearby shared stream crossings.
The trail ends abruptly at the gates of the Whiting Field Naval Air Station. Before September 2001, the trail continued west to an active airport runway, but national and local security precautions now prevent that. Shutterbugs take note: while the military embraces the trail, security officers at the base entrance may be uncomfortable with your snapping pictures of this area.
Parking and Trail Access
From I-10, take Route 87 toward Milton. The trailhead is on the northwest corner of the Route 87/US Highway 90 intersection. The trailside visitor center is at 5533 Alabama Street, 1 mile north of the Milton trailhead. Parking is available.
To reach the Munson Highway parking area and its equestrian parking, head north from Milton about 3 miles on Route 191 to the trail intersection.
The Whiting Field trailhead is a few miles north of the Route 87A/Route 191 intersection, just northeast of Milton.
Blackwater Heritage State Trail
5533 Alabama Street
Milton, FL 32564