In Wild About Florida, North Florida (Global Authors Publications, copyright 2009) travel and nature writer Kathleen Walls takes the reader on a tour of both the wild and the not so wild places of the North and Northwest Florida back roads. Beginning with Marineland, the world’s first marine park and oceanarium, Walls guides us up the Northeast Florida Atlantic coast and across the state to Northwest Florida, stopping at zoos, state parks and nature areas along the way.
Organizing the tour east to west, county by county, Walls offers a brief description of what you’ll find there. She includes all of the Northwest Florida state parks, mentioning hiking and canoeing trails, and if there is camping available. She also presents a brief discussion of what makes each park so interesting.
Walls points out the wildlife in each area especially if there is something unusual to be found there. For instance, the white squirrels of Ochlockonee River State Park are a true mutation of gray squirrels and the Saint Andrew beach mouse is found almost solely in St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
Because Walls herself camps wherever she travels, she is careful to include camping information on all of the places she visits in the book. Both public and private campgrounds are mentioned and whether or not the place accommodates RVs and tents. A number of places have expanded their camping facilities in recent years, particularly Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park and Tops’l Hill Preserve State Park, so it’s best to call ahead for current camping information.
Wild About Florida features a lot of hiking trails and mentions the Florida National Scenic Trail as well as numerous trails within state parks and national forests. For instance, in looking for rare Torreya trees in Torreya State Park, Walls says a ranger told her of, “…a few wild ones that still remained on the Apalachicola River Bluff Trail, a National Recreational Trail following the river along a steep bluff.”
Wild About Florida, North Florida is full of useful information for eco-touring in the region. The negatives are that there is no index so you can’t quickly find that information, nor is there contact information for the places she features. All parks, trails, rivers and other places are in bold typeface so you can find them on the page, but you’ll have to go elsewhere for phone numbers and addresses.
However, as an accompaniment to any other Florida travel guide in your repertoire, this book offers some great ideas for off the beaten path places you won’t readily find listed elsewhere. Get ready, this book covers a lot of territory.
By Kathleen Walls and Martin Walls
Global Authors Publications, 2009, $12.99
This book is available in bookstores and through online book sellers, or click on the link above to order from Amazon.com.
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