Historic Fort Clinch State Park lies along the Amelia River in Fernandina Beach, Florida, only 45 minutes north of Jacksonville. This picturesque Florida state park contains such habitats as beaches, sand dunes, maritime hammock and tidal marshland.
The unique 1864 historical site hosts reenactments and offers visitors an opportunity to explore a well-preserved fortress with many rooms and buildings. Guided tours, trails, swimming, fishing, camping, birdwatching and picnicking are popular activities at this beachside state park.
A visit to Fort Clinch State park is an opportunity to learn, discover and relax. Whether you plan to visit for a day or spend several nights you’ll find more than enough to keep you busy: Explore the fort; talk to a Civil War soldier; collect shells along the beach; camp next to the river or the ocean; hike or bike the miles of trails and so much more.
Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Fort Clinch State Park:
Historic Site at Fort Clinch State Park
The 19th century Fort Clinch is considered one of the best preserved in the entire country. The fort was built along St. Marys River to protect the port at Fernandina and restored during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
During restoration park roads, a museum and a campground were added. Today guests are offered a glimpse back to 1864 with a visit to this living historical site. The fort contains five bastions, a hospital, kitchens, guard rooms, a prison, barracks, a blacksmith shop, bakery, storehouses and galleries.
A small garden near the Fort Clinch Museum has plants and herbs that were used during the Civil War.
Boating at Fort Clinch State Park
Free public boat ramps are located adjacent to the park for those who wish to kayak or canoe during their visit to Fort Clinch State Park. Visitors should be aware of the strong currents in St. Mary’s Inlet before launching into those waters. Egans Creek has less currents and boat traffic.
Overnight guests of the park are allowed to launch from either campground.
Swimming at Fort Clinch State Park
Swim and surf in the beautiful waters of the Atlantic Ocean during your visit to Fort Clinch State Park. Swimming is allowed only in the designated area along Atlantic Beach as it may be dangerous in other areas along the coastline inside the park.
As there are no lifeguards, guests are encouraged to pay close attention to the warning flag system displayed at the park entrance that provides swimming conditions. Restrooms, changing rooms and outdoor showers are located along the boardwalk.
Hiking at Fort Clinch State Park
Discover the beauty inside and around Fort Clinch State Park: beaches, river, maritime hammock, sand dunes, salt and freshwater marshland, wildlife (even wild horses) and the majestic Amelia Island lighthouse.
Here are a couple of the trails at Fort Clinch State Park:
- Willows Pond Nature Trail – This easy 0.6 mile trail loops around several freshwater ponds and a chance for guests to see deer, alligators, and a variety of birds. Every Saturday the park offers guided nature walks along this trail.
- Hiking and Biking Trail – The park’s multi-use trail is a moderate 5.1 miles for hikers and cyclists to share. The trail begins near Fort Clinch and flows throughout the forest and ancient dunes.
Biking at Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park has 3.3 miles of paved road, a 6 mile wilderness trail and several miles along the beach that is ideal for bicycling. The 6 mile multi use trail provides a rugged ride along rolling hills and throughout the forest inside the park. Helmets are required for riders on the multi-use trail.
Fishing at Fort Clinch State Park
Pick up a Florida fishing license and bring your angling equipment for a relaxing day along the Atlantic shoreline or St. Marys Inlet. Catch flounder, mullet, redfish, black drum, whiting, sea trout, grouper and sheepshead. The visitor center carries limited supplies of tackle and bait.
Birding at Fort Clinch State Park
Bring your binoculars and spend some quality time bird watching at Fort Clinch State Park. The park is one of the first stops along The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail and offers excellent viewing opportunities for guests.
A variety of habitats attract native and migrating birds and more than 100 species have been sighted within the park. Egans Creek Overlook and the bird pavilion are especially popular with visitors and where you may see bald eagles, hawks, kestrels, owls, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, buntings and sandpipers.
Nature and Wildlife at Fort Clinch State Park
View nature and wildlife from the trails and along the boardwalk, beach and St. Marys River during your visit to Fort Clinch State Park. Viewing times are always best early in the morning or right before sunset.
Some you may see include deer, raccoons, wild horses, sea turtles, dolphins, alligators, pelicans, birds, and sometimes a bobcat.
Pets at Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park allows supervised and leashed pets along the trails, park drive and camping areas. Pets are not allowed inside park buildings or on the boardwalk or in the beach area.
Camping at Fort Clinch State Park
Park your RV at the Atlantic Beach Campground inside Fort Clinch State Park. This modern campground is just steps away from the ocean and has 21 RV sites and 6 tent only campsites.
Another 42 campsites are located at the Amelia Campground along the St. Mary’s River. These two unique campgrounds offer guests a choice – beach views or shady, Spanish moss-laden oaks along the riverside.
All campsites have electric hookups, potable water, a picnic table and fire ring. Heated bathrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities are also located at each campground.
The park’s primitive group campground has three large camping areas for groups of up to 75. Each site is surrounded by oaks and a short walk to Egans Creek Marsh. Group fire rings and restrooms are also available at these campsites.
Fort Clinch State Park
2601 Atlantic Ave
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Fort Clinch State Park:
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