Located on the Forgotten Coast near Carrabelle in Northwest Florida, Tate's Hell State Forest covers more than 200,000 acres and boasts a staggering number of major habitats, which include wet flatwoods, wet prairie, seepage slope, baygall, floodplain forest, floodplain swamp, basin swamp, upland hardwood forest, sandhill, pine ridges, dense titi thickets and scrub.

This is an incredibly wild place that's surrounded by other incredibly wild places. If you're looking to get seriously into the thick of things, Tate's Hell State Forest is where you want to be.

Or perhaps you just want a peek into Tate's Hell State Forest and see what it's all about. That's where the High Bluff Coastal Hiking Trail comes in handy -- it's a four-mile, well-marked walk into coastal scrub and flatwoods habitats. It's a linear hike, meaning you'll need to plan to tack on four miles for the return trip if you do the whole thing.

The trail is easy to find, with two trailheads (east and west) located right on U.S. 98. Look for the large brown forestry signs near the entrances. The High Bluff Hiking Trail is also part of Florida's State Forest Trailwalker Program.

The Legend of Tate's Hell

A story that's been passed down through the generations explains how Tate's Hell Swamp acquired its moniker. Local legend recounts that a farmer by the name of Cebe Tate, armed with only a shotgun and with the company of his hunting dogs traveled into the swamp to try to find a panther that was killing his livestock. Although there are multiple varieties of the tale, the most usual one describes Tate being lost in the swamp for seven days and nights, bitten by a snake, and supping from the questionable, muddy waters to curb his thirst. When he arrived at a clearing close to Carrabelle, he survived only long enough to whisper the words, "My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell." Cebe Tate's adventure took place in 1875 and ever since, it's been called Tate's Hell, the epic, forbidden swamp.


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