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By Doug Alderson, Director of Outreach & Advocacy

When someone puts “Garden of Eden” in a name, that’s a lot to live up to. It conjures up images of an earthly paradise of beauty and innocence.

On a cool March afternoon, seven intrepid hikers donned more than fig leaves for a spring Apalachicola Riverkeeper outing on the Garden of Eden Trail near Bristol. The name is derived from the theories of the late E.E. Calloway, a Bristol preacher and one time nominee for governor who claimed the area was the original Garden of Eden. He wrote a book to support his theories, In the Beginning, now a rare, difficult-to-find volume.

The area is a Nature Conservancy preserve with steephead ravines and Florida’s largest geological outcropping, Alum Bluff. This time of year, it is also a place to see blooming silverbells, dogwoods, Florida anise, purple violets and wild azalea. So, besides testing climbing muscles, it is indeed a botanical Eden. And for some reason, it didn’t get walloped quite so hard by Hurricane Michael as did nearby Torreya State Park, so there are still some tree giants to admire.

If you are interested in exploring a bit of “Eden” in our backyard, check out the Garden of Eden Trail. Each season showcases different plants and trees. Round trip on the trail is about 4 miles and there are some steep descents and ascents through the ravines. It is best to allow at least 2-3 hours with time for a good break at the George Willson bench at the Alum Bluff overlook.

Thank you Explore Northwest Florida for supporting our Eco-Educational Outings Program!

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