Located on one of Northeast Florida's unique sea islands, Big Talbot Island State Park is primarily a natural preserve providing a premier location for nature study, bird-watching and photography.
Explore the diverse island habitats by hiking Blackrock Trail to the shoreline, Big Pine Trail to the marsh or Old Kings Highway and Jones Cut through the maritime forest.
Launch a boat from the north end of the island to fish and tour the salt marsh or rent a kayak and take a guided paddle tour with Kayak Amelia, 904-251-0016. Kayak tours require advanced reservation.
Visit The Bluffs and enjoy a picnic at one of the pavilions overlooking the water or take a quick stroll down the trail to Boneyard Beach. The unique beach is famous for the salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shore.
Bring a bicycle, in-line skates or a stroller and enjoy the 2.9-mile off road paved multi-use Timucuan Trail that runs parallel to A1A. Stop along the way to read about the park's natural and cultural resources at the interpretive panels.
Big Talbot is a bicyclist's paradise. Miles of paved and unpaved trails provide opportunities to take in the shady maritime hammock forests and stunning vistas of the salt marsh or bike from park to park. The newly completed paved multi-use path starts just north of Simpson's Creek at the Big Pine trailhead parking area and ends at the Spoonbill Pond boardwalk and viewing platforms at the Nassau Sound. This segment of the Timucuan Trail provides users with four miles of paved trail winding through maritime forest and overlooking wetlands. At the northern terminus of the trail, ride across the Nassau Sound using the A1A roadway shoulder to connect to the northern Amelia Island Trail that spans 6 miles and ends at Peters Point beach park, providing cyclists with 11 miles of paved trail. Be sure to stop and enjoy reading about the natural and cultural resources of the park at the interpretive signs along the way.
Off-road biking is also available on the western side of A1A on Kings Highway and Jones Cut trails through live oak forests. On the eastern side of A1A, off-road biking to salt marsh on Big Pine trail and to Big Talbot's beaches is possible via the Shoreline Trail or Black Rock Trail. Due to the many fallen trees and driftwood on the shore, biking on Big Talbot beach is possible but not advised.
Bicycles are available for hourly and daily rentals from nearby concessionaires. At Amelia Island State Park, visit the Kelly Seahorse Ranch, (904) 491-5166, and at Big Talbot Island State Park, visit Kayak Amelia, (904) 251-0016, for more details.
Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
Big Talbot Island State Park is a birder's paradise. Bring your binoculars, spotting scope or zoom lens camera and enjoy quiet study of the colorful wading birds and foraging shorebirds from a covered birding pavilion along the elevated boardwalk at Spoonbill Pond. This salty seep pond at the north end of the island is tidally inundated providing ample marine life for the birds to enjoy. Stroll the beach to see black skimmers, ospreys, piping plovers, terns (including the threatened least tern), and brown pelicans. In the marshes you might find the endangered wood stork, egrets, herons, ibis and osprey. Venturing inland you might find barred owls, painted buntings, doves and pileated woodpeckers. American bald eagles are often seen soaring along the shoreline and perched in the pines at Spoonbill Pond during the winter months.
Big Talbot Island is another premier site of the Great Florida Birding Trail. If you would like to know more about Florida's birding opportunities, visit Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, or pick up a park bird checklist from the Little Talbot Island State Park ranger station, (904) 251-2320.
Boating opportunities abound all around Big Talbot Island. Numerous tidal creeks along the Intracoastal Waterway including Simpson's Creek and Myrtle Creek are easily accessible via canoes and kayaks or power boats. Launch from the north end of the island at the Big Talbot boat ramp to access the Nassau Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Or hand-launch from the southern end at Kayak Amelia to explore the salt marsh of Simpson's Creek and Myrtle Creek. Explore the sand bars, fish in rich waters or soak up the scenery.
Practice responsible boating. The pristine areas you are enjoying are sensitive to disturbance and need your help to stay beautiful for generations to come. Pack out all trash, avoid unnecessarily disturbing wildlife, and keep off environmentally sensitive areas like oyster beds and dune bluffs. Remember, pets are not allowed on the shorelines in any state park area. Be sure to take only pictures and leave only footprints. Always have a float plan and bring the necessary safety and communications equipment.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Located between Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island, Kayak Amelia is Talbot Islands State Parks' canoe and kayak visitor service provider. Kayak Amelia offers everything from canoe and kayak rentals to special focus guided trips. The facility provides local information including maps, safety guidance, and possible routes. Inside the concession you will find snacks and drinks, restrooms, and souvenirs. If you have your own kayak you can use the hand-launch ramp located here for $1.00 per person. Please check in at the front desk before launching.
Kayak Amelia offers numerous types of guided paddles including: birding paddles, tai-chi paddles, stand up paddleboard yoga, sunset and full-moon paddles, as well as special focus paddles. All guided trips include instruction, snack, and interpretation. They also offer day camps for children during the summer months.
Kayak Amelia has a quaint gift shop which offers visitors earth friendly products including clothing made from organic cotton, hemp and bamboo, DEET free insect repellent, Fair trade necklaces, natural handmade soaps, and health conscious snacks and beverages. For more information on products offered contact Kayak Amelia.
Kayak Amelia is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm throughout the year; however, it is closed on Wednesdays, December through February. For additional information contact Kayak Amelia at (904) 251-0016 or the Talbot Islands Ranger Station at (904) 251-2320.
With the large tracts of saltwater marsh that surrounds Big Talbot Island, this is unquestionably a prime area for fishing. With a little luck and skill, whiting, flounder, redfish and speckled sea trout are just a cast away all year long. During the spring and fall, baitfish and shrimp can be caught in many of the creeks and along the shoreline using a cast net. A morning canoe trip through the marsh can easily result in an evening fish-fry. Fly fishing has become very popular throughout the islands as "tailing reds" venture onto the flats during the fall and spring flood tides. A popular fishing spot along A1A at the Simpson's Creek bridge can yield black drum. Or walk the half mile Blackrock trail to fish the shoreline for flounder and pompano at the point. A map of Big Talbot and its marshes or the lastest edition of The Fishing Connection can be obtained at the Little Talbot Island State Park Ranger Station, (904) 251-2320.
If you prefer to fish from a pier, access to the south end of the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier is available from the boat ramp parking lot. There is a $2 per person fee for pedestrians to fish from the bridge.
Fishing is permitted in accordance with Florida state law. Please go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to obtain the most current saltwater fishing regulations and to obtain a fishing license online. The park does not sell fishing licenses. All fishing within the park must conform to the regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season.
Explore the park in a new and challenging way. Experienced Geocachers have requested permission to hide caches containing trinkets, treasures, or information in various places around the park. Please check the Geocaching website for the most current and up-to-date information and clues to locate these caches.
Operation Recreation GeoTour
Big Talbot Island State Park has several trails to offer our visitors. A trails map may be picked up at the Little Talbot Island State Park Ranger Station, (904) 251-2320. The Shoreline Trail at the Bluffs picnic area starts at the north end of the parking area and provides access to the Nassau Sound and Boneyard Beach. Black Rock Trail (off A1A) meanders through the maritime hammock delivering you to a one of a kind beach that has black, rocklike outcroppings and fallen trees that have become bleached and weathered with time. Big Pine Trail (off A1A) is a short walk to the shoreline and salt marshes along Simpson Creek. Old Kings Highway Trail and Jones Cut Trail (both on the west side of A1A) are historic, unrefined trails that traverse through the heart of Big Talbot Island's lush maritime hammock and scrubby flatwoods. The paved multi-use Timucuan Trail runs for almost three miles and ambles through shady forests, providing a perfect place to take the family biking or push the kids in the stroller. Keep an eye out for wildlife including pileated woodpeckers, ospreys, gopher tortoises, white-tailed deer and raccoons as you explore the trails.
Big Talbot Islands is a great place to just enjoy an afternoon of fun in the sun or go exploring through the branches of time. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothing. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, bugspray and a snack. Pack your field guide and binoculars to help you identify plants and animals along the way.
The panoramic view of Nassau Sound as it opens to meet the Atlantic Ocean makes Big Talbot’s Bluffs a perfect setting for a picnic. The Bluffs picnic area is located on the east side of S.R. A1A. This picnic area has a $3.00 entrance fee per vehicle and offers park visitors covered picnic pavilions with grills and tables along with an absolutely gorgeous view of Nassau Sound.
The wayside picnic area is located at the southern end of Big Talbot on the west side of S.R. A1A just north of the Simpson's Creek bridge. It offers limited parking area with several picnic tables underneath shady oak trees. The views of the salt marsh and the creek to the south are phenomenal. There is no entry fee for this area.
Bring your rollerblades to Big Talbot and enjoy the three mile paved multi-use Timucuan Trail. Enjoy gentle curves through shady maritime forest as you skate. Park at the Bluffs picnic area, Blackrock trailhead or Big Pine trailhead for $3 per vehicle.
Shelling is a favorite pastime of many visitors and the beaches of Big Talbot Island are a great place to find them. Collectors can find a multitude of species, including clam, scallop, oyster, and periwinkle. Plan your shelling around the low phase of the tide, which exposes the most beach area. Search in the "shell line" where the highest waves stop as they come upon the beach and deposit groups of shells.
Please remember that driftwood is a protected feature of the park and its collection is strictly prohibited.
Ranger-led guided hikes are available by request at Big Talbot Island State Park. Call Park Services Specialists at (904) 251-2811 to request a tour for your group.
Kayak Amelia offers guided kayak tours through the salt marsh creeks of Big Talbot Island. Call (904) 251-0016.
Experiencing Big Talbot usually includes catching a glimpse of some of the awesome wildlife that live here. Here are some tips on when and where to see park residents.
Look for ospreys in the oak trees fishing the shoreline at the Bluffs picnic area and trail. Visit Spoonbill bond, on the east side of A1A across from the boat ramp parking area, to see wading birds like roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets and the occasional white pelican. Check out the large black and yellow argiope spiders that build webs above the trail in the warm summer months. At dawn and dusk, keep an eye out for white tailed deer, bobcats, oppossums and raccoons along the wooded trails. Watch the tidal creek waters and ocean shorelines for the curved dorsal fins of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. From November to March, the characteristic V-shaped spray of the Northern Atlantic Right Whales may be seen from the coast. Look for gopher tortoises grazing alongside trails on roads on warm sunny days.
The best way to view wildlife is to move slowly and quietly through the park. Avoid bright clothing and scented perfumes or lotions that might deter animals. Bring binoculars and a camera for long distance viewing. Be patient and enjoy the scenery as you search. Make sure and give wildlife plenty of space. Do not feed or harass wildlife or go off of designated trails. Share your viewing experiences and tips with others.
Big Talbot Island today is a great place to go fishing, kayaking, boating or strolling along the undisturbed trails and beaches. Thousands of years ago, however, the island was home to Florida's most ancient people, the Timucua. By the time Europeans arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Timucua people populated the island. Unfortunately, by the late 18th century, most of the Timucua had perished. Evidence of their civilization can be seen in shell middens, ancient trash piles of oyster shell and food refuse found throughout the island. The Talbot Islands, named for Charles Baron Talbot, Lord High Chancellor of England, were converted into lucrative plantations by the Europeans who settled here. The Spicer plantation was located on the north end of the island and the Houston plantation was at the south. Today, the island is a refuge for wildlife and visitors, providing ideal habitat and recreational opportunities.
Parking is available at several locations throughout Big Talbot Island State Park. At the north end, pay $2.00 per person at the Boat Ramp parking area or $4.00 with a boat trailer to access the fishing bridge or north shoreline. Restroom facilities are also located here. Or park at the Bluffs picnic area, Blackrock trailhead or Big Pine trailhead on the eastern side of S.R. A1A for $3.00 per vehicle. On the south end of the island, parking is available at wayside picnic area or at the Kayak Amelia facilities.
The Florida Park Service Mission is to provide a delicate balance between high quality recreational experiences for our valued guests, including their pets, as well as the protection of our natural and cultural resources to ensure their preservation for future generations to enjoy.
In order to accomplish this, our goal is to allow pets in areas where there are minimal impacts to these natural and cultural resources. Big Talbot has several areas that are sensitive to potential pet disturbances, such as the park shoreline and beaches where endangered nesting and resting shorebirds or turtles can easily be disturbed, causing them to vacate. The park works hard to minimize these impacts by providing signage in designated locations where pets are not permitted.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Big Talbot Island State Park on all nature trails, hiking trails and picnic areas. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times and cannot be left unattended. For more information, please see the Official Pet Policy. Pets are not permitted in buildings, boardwalks or on the beach.
The Bluffs picnic area provides three covered picnic pavilions with picnic tables and grills. Pavilions are nonreserveable and are first-come, first-served. Bring your friends and family for a barbeque and enjoy breathtaking views of the Nassau Sound. Or pack a picnic basket and blanket and dine on Boneyard Beach among the fallen trees.
Restroom facilities are located at the boat ramp parking area and at The Bluffs picnic area.
For fishing and boating enthusiasts, Big Talbot's boat ramp is the gateway to bountiful fishing grounds. The deep-water ramp has a floating dock that provides easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway, Nassau Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The ramp is located on the north end of Big Talbot. There is a $4.00 launch fee per boat. Remember to file a float plan and ALWAYS carry proper communication and safety equipment!