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A Tour of Ft. Clinch State Park, FL with Video Tours
Ft. Clinch State Park is located near the northern tip of Amelia Island, the state’s northernmost Atlantic isle. The park is beautifully set among live oaks, towering sand dunes, dense maritime forest, tidal creeks, the Amelia River, the Cumberland Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a popular spot for day visitors and for overnight campers. You’ll find lots to do here!
The park has two campgrounds: on at the river and the other on the beach. Both campgrounds have full hookups, water, a dump station, fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, washers and dryers, and hot-water showers.
The River Campground provides more privacy and shade due to the abundance of large oak trees and native shrubs. During the “sand gnat season,” however, the Beach Campground is often preferred because the brush and foliage at the river site attract and hold the pesky “varmints.”
Saltwater angling at the park is superb! You have a wide choice of great fishing spots. You can fish in the river, in the sound, in the ocean, from the jetties, or from the half-mile-long concrete pier. Usual catches include flounder, redfish, seatrout, black drum, sharks, whiting, ladyfish, sheepshead, pompano, and the occasional tarpon.
Night gigging for flounder is also popular in the shallows of the river.
Hiking and nature trails
The park has several miles of nature trails. From the trails, you can see all kinds of native plants and wildlife, including whitetail deer, alligators, and squirrels. Many different bird species also call the park home, and numerous others are seasonal visitors.
Guided nature walks are also provided.
Off-road bicycles are allowed on the nature trails. There are also paved roads throughout the park, and cyclists are permitted on them. At low tide, biking on the beach is possible.
The wilderness of the park is a great habitat for wildlife. On your visit, you might see deer, gray squirrels, raccoons, opossums, foxes, snakes, box turtles, and a variety of lizards. On the way into the park, an alligator is often spotted in the creek that runs under the main road. At the river, dolphins, manatees, and horseshoe crabs are often seen.
There are numerous beaches at Ft. Clinch available for swimming and sunning. If you prefer waves, visit the beach past the pier-side jetties. If you prefer privacy, try the beach at the river, but don’t attempt swimming there. Wading and clamming are fine, but there are some wicked currents out from shore. In my opinion, the best beach in the park is the one at the sound, adjacent to the pier. The water is usually clear and very calm, and there are nearby bathrooms and showers.
Collecting shell along one of the beaches at Ft. Clinch Park is another popular activity. One of the most sought-after finds is fossilized sharks’ teeth. Because of fairly recent dredging of the channel, sharks’ teeth are pretty easy to locate on the beaches at the river, sound, and ocean.
Large whelk shells and a variety of other collectibles can be found at the park. The best time to search is at low tide.
The park is a paradise for shutter bugs. Some of the tallest sand dunes in the entire state of Florida are here, along with ancient oaks dressed in scarves of Spanish moss. On some of the beaches you’ll also find gnarled pieces of driftwood and other interesting objects to photograph. And, of course, there’s always the wildlife!
The brick fortress was begun by the Federal Government in 1847. At the beginning of the Civil War, Confederate troops used the fort, but General Robert E. Lee ordered them to withdraw in 1862. After that, the fort was occupied by Union forces. In 1898, the fort was reactivated for a short time for the Spanish-American War.
The old fort can be toured daily. Kids and the young at heart love travelling through the tunnels! You’ll also enjoy a nice view of Cumberland Sound from the top.
On the first Saturday of each month, except for December, candlelit tours of the fort are provided by park rangers and volunteers. The participants dress in period costumes and recreate what life was like at the fort during the Civil War. Live demonstrations take place at the blacksmith’s shop, the infirmary, the laundry, the kitchen, and the jail. Also, marching drills and artillery demonstrations are provided.
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